Archive | March 2022

Book Review: Deception Point

Deception Point, by Dan Brown

I hadn’t read Dan Brown since I read the DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons almost 20 years ago, but this was among my parents audiobooks.

Deception Point is a political thriller, with plenty of action, deception (hence the title) and murder…

Deception Point

Rachel Sexton works in the National Security Office of the President, writing briefs for the President on various topics of national security.  Until one day she receives a call from her boss, letting her know that she’s been summoned by the President.  She is taken in a White House helicopter to begin the most bizarre and dangerous 24 hours of her life.

As it turns out, NASA has discovered a meteorite, buried deep within the ice of the Milne Ice Shelf in the Arctic.  It’s incredible all on its own, but then she learns that this meteorite has the potential to be the biggest scientific discovery NASA has ever made…  But why has Rachel been summoned to see a mysterious meteorite in the Arctic?

Like other Dan Brown novels, this one is fast-paced, leading the reader down multiple twists and turns, and barely letting you catch your breath before the next plot twist comes along. 

It held my interest, and I appreciated the scientific discussion that is present throughout the book, but it didn’t have the same allure as the DaVinci Code.  My biggest disappointment was that I found myself not being satisfied with the motive of the villain in the end; it wasn’t clear why that character was the one behind it all…

That being said, I still found it to be an easy, interesting read. 

3 stars. 


Circus Trip 2018: Historical Museum of Bay County

Day 67, Thursday, September 20, 2018
Bay City, Michigan

The Historical Museum of Bay County is operated by the non-profit Bay County Historical Society, and is located in Bay City, Michigan.  My Dad grew up in Bay County, living in Munger, a tiny little town that is no longer incorporated.  He attended high school in Bay City because the Catholic School in Munger didn’t go past 8th grade.

The Bay County Historical Society was first created in 1919, and is located within the former National Guard Armory building, that was built in 1910.  The building itself is a beautiful historic structure.

But Mom and I had a different interest in visiting the museum that day.  My grandfather, served in World War I in the Ambulance Corps.  Yes, you read that correctly.  World War ONE.  You see, my grandfather was already well into middle age when he married my grandmother at the age of 48; he was born in 1887.  And when he was serving, they were still using horse and mule drawn ambulances.  My grandfather, having grown up on a farm that used horse drawn plows, would have been a hot commodity on a horse drawn ambulance crew.  

My Grandfather, Circa 1918 in World War I

The Historical Museum of Bay County happens to have a World War I ambulance among their collection that was from my grandfather’s unit.  It was so cool to see!  This ambulance is a motorized one, and we aren’t sure if my grandfather ever used it, as the end of the war was a period of transition from horse drawn to motorized vehicles.  So it might not have been an ambulance that my grandfather used, but wouldn’t that be neat if it was! 

Either way, it felt like a step back in time to experience just a tiny bit of what my grandfather would have experienced when he was in the War.  He also was stationed in France for nine months after the Armistice, as the wounded were still being treated and evacuated back to their home countries.  There was a lot of work to do for a soldier in the Ambulance Corps even after the war ended.  

We checked out the other exhibits at the museum, including Bay County’s history in the logging industry, historic nursing uniforms and the history of the fire service.  We only had a limited amount of time, and there was way more that we didn’t get to!  It was a worthwhile stop, and there is no charge to see it!


I never met my grandfather, as he died in 1960, long before I was born, and I never got to hear any of his stories.  It was nice to have some small connection to him. 

Book Review: Edge

Edge, by Jeffrey Deaver

Officer Corte is in an interesting line of work. He works as a “shepherd,” a term created by those who work in his under-the-radar government organization. He is charged with protecting people whose lives are at risk due to being targeted by a “lifter” or “hitter.” Euphemisms that essentially mean people who are hired to kidnap people in order to extract information, or kill them.


Corte has been assigned to guard the Kessler family, consisting of a police officer, his stay-at-home wife, their daughter and the wife’s sister.

The book contains a series of plot twists, and the reader never quite knows who is being targeted and by whom. The bad guys go to huge lengths to get their target, including kidnapping and torturing innocent bystanders to make them do the dirty work.

I have never led a life that would lead me to needing protection by these agents, but I found myself fascinated by the intricate dance they do to move people to safety and make sure they are still alive to get to their depositions, or court dates, or whatever other thing is so important that they not attend.

Nobody in this family is who they seem, and the plot progresses as Corte tries to discover who wants the Kesslers, and why.  The book has its share of gunfire, explosions and other things that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat until the very end…  I listened to the audio version, and the narrator, Skip Sudduth, was excellent!

4 stars.

Circus Trip 2018: East-side Michigan

Days 66 – 69, Wednesday – Saturday, September 19 – 22, 2018

I had reached Michigan for a stay with my family. At this point, I had been on the road for more than two months. I had driven from Washington State to Maine, down to Washington, D.C., and back to Michigan. Most of the those over 60 nights on the road were spent in campgrounds, with three in hotels and seven spent with friends and family.

So how was I feeling? Pretty good! I was really enjoying being out on the road! I could set my own pace, I could go where I wanted and stay as long as I wanted.  The problem I was running into was that I wanted to stay longer at each place, and worried that I wouldn’t make it all the way around the country before I ended up having to head home.  I could relax and decompress when I needed to after a very rough couple of years.  I suppose that is a good problem to have, and looking back on this time, I recognize what an amazing experience this was, and how it helped me heal.  After another rough couple of years, I’m ready for this again.

I found myself finding so many things to do in each local area I visited.  In addition to googling things, I asked people what was around, stumbled upon activities, followed informational road signs, and headed down back roads to see what I could find.  GPS is truly a Godsend.

I arrived in Michigan a few days ahead of my cousin’s wedding, and had some time to hang out with my parents who flew in, my aunts and uncles and cousins.  It was great to have the family time.  And sadly it was the last time I really had a vacation with my Dad, but of course I didn’t know that at the time… 

Wednesday I slept in and had a lazy day, and caught up with my parents, since I hadn’t seen them for two months!  That evening I went out for dessert with my cousins and the bride’s friends; cheesecake and Sauvignon Blanc.

We decorated the hall for the wedding on Thursday, making flower arrangements with twinkle lights inside, and hanging photos.  It was fun to help.  On the way home, my mom and I visited the Bay County Historical Society Museum.  I’ll post about that separately!  


My mom and I went to the Christmas store in Frankenmuth on Friday.  It’s called Bronner’s and if you have never been there, you are in for a surprise.  It is a gigantic store, filled with every imaginable Christmas item.  Ornaments galore, garlands, nativities, trees, and more.  They will also personalize ornaments with names or phrases for free!  I always love visiting there when I am in Michigan.  I also went to the Black Star Farms tasting room and did a tasting and got a few bottles of bubbles and a Riesling for mom.  I had their wines several years before when I was in Michigan and I was so excited to have them again! 

Friday night was the wedding.  It was beautiful and sweet, and I loved watching my uncle walk my cousin down the aisle; his first granddaughter to get married…  It was fun to catch up with lots of my family members who came in for the wedding.

Saturday at lunch we all met up at Krzyziak’s Polish Buffet.  There were 19 of us and that is just my Dad’s side!  Yea, I have a big family when we all get together.  The Pacific Northwest doesn’t really have many Polish restaurants (or perhaps none), so I always enjoy getting back to my roots on my Michigan trips!  I also loved seeing my Dad so happy, surrounded by his sisters and all my cousins.  Family meant so much to him and he lit up when we visited.  I miss that.



Looking back those days meant a lot to me.  There weren’t really visits to places to blog about, but spending time with my family that I don’t get to see often enough (and then COVID) was truly precious. 

Me and Dad – September 2018

The next day I was off with my parents to spend a few days with my mom’s side of the family too!



Daily Musings: The Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March, they say. Yes, I know I’m a couple days off, but stay with me here…

Two of my friends have posted in the last two days about the trials of mid-March.  Both found themselves in past years facing a broken marriage, and painful divorce in the middle of March.  Both have found a more joyful, satisfying life in the years since.  These are both strong, beautiful, successful women who I have known since childhood, and admired for their tenacity, spunk, intelligence and drive.  It makes me happy that they have found partnerships where they feel valued and appreciated.

My own marriage came to an end on this day in 2016.  My husband agreed to marriage counseling, only so he wouldn’t have to tell me by himself that he didn’t want to be married anymore.  He had no interest in working on our marriage.  He merely pretended.  Afterwards, I went home alone to a corned beef brisket dinner in the crockpot, and started my next chapter.

Me feeling pensive at the Streetsboro KOA

In the years since, I’ve been through a roller coaster of grief, losing many loved ones and other traumas.  I’ve had some very dark days.  It’s been ugly, and messy and hard. I didn’t really talk about it for a long time.  Why is that we don’t talk about it?  Why are we women so hell bent on protecting those who didn’t protect us? 

But I’ve also had joy.  Moments where I felt fully at peace with my choices and my life.  I have learned that life is far too short to stay with what (or who) doesn’t bring you joy.  And God has a way of showing you over and over, as many times as you need, that you best be moving along and seeking something better for yourself.  Maybe you aren’t sure it is a sign, or a message, or maybe you think things will change for the better.  Maybe they will.  But how many chances do you give before you honor yourself? 

At any rate, St. Patrick’s Day was the day it finally sunk in.  He just said it first.  My husband wouldn’t change.  He didn’t want to.  He didn’t care.  And I was tired of doing the caring for both of us. 

God has been sending me those messages lately.  Just as I start to settle back into the routine, there is a jolt.  That uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, just underneath your sternum (at least that’s where it is for me).  That place where your body reacts when something just isn’t sitting well in your heart.  Sometimes I’m not the best listener.  I’m stubborn.  I don’t necessarily want to do the work.  I’ve been learning to listen to it, knowing that if I don’t, there will be another jolt coming in a few days or a week.  That feeling that says, don’t settle in.  Don’t get too comfortable.  This is no longer for you… 

Good changes are coming.  I have to work for it and not get complacent.

I just hope that my story, the story of another strong, beautiful and successful woman, will inspire someone the way that others have for me.

COVID Diaries: Day 723

Hopefully, with any luck, this is the final post in the COVID Diaries series!  Tomorrow is Ditch Your Mask Day here in Washington, and I can’t wait to see everybody’s bare faces!  We have been through a lot this last two years, and I’m ready to move forward.

Spring is creeping up on us in the Pacific Northwest, the robins are arriving, and the birds are singing their morning songs.  My morning commute on days I’m in the office is finally not mostly in the dark.  The early spring flowers are popping up.  And we are getting some sunny days between the cloudy and rainy ones.  New life and the signs of winter fading away do so much for my spirits!

I had planned to get up early this morning on my Friday off and head down south a bit to check out a new beach – I want to do some agate hunting!  But my car had other ideas.  It started having some issues with the door locks last weekend, and the CD player, so I dropped it off at the shop on Tuesday morning hoping they could do some quick diagnostics and figure out what the problem is.  Unfortunately, they are backed up, just like every other business, so here it is Friday and they still haven’t had a chance to look at it.  Sigh…  Hopefully today will be the day.

Thankfully I was easily able to just work an extra day from home this week, so I really didn’t need my car for much.  My mom took me over to the chiropractor yesterday.  Seeing that I’m stuck around home for another day, I’ll try to make the most of it and get into another day of purging and cleaning. 

Wish me luck!  It’s hard to stay motivated, but when you have an end goal in mind, I guess it gets a little easier. 

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

COVID Diaries: Day 718

It was a beautiful weekend here!  It was sunny and warm, and the first time this year that I tied my sweatshirt around my waist during a late morning walk!

It was also a weekend of chores.  Yesterday, between a long walk with girlfriends, and an hour of yard work, I hit 20,000 steps for the day!

I have committed to work on purging the house for 5 hours per week.  My purge-weeks go from Saturday to Friday and so far I’m at 3.25 hours.  That doesn’t seem like a lot but it is!  There’s plenty to go through, but hopefully I can keep up my motivation.  I went through a bunch of old travel brochures, greeting cards from my wedding (don’t need those!), a couple of random drawers, part of the pantry and a little bit of the garage.  I probably should stick to a room at a time, but my brain doesn’t really stay engaged that way.  I’m more a root around and see what I find type of person.

The real challenge will be when I get to the books.  Because books “bring me joy”!  But I know I need to pass along some. I’ve been doing well passing along audiobooks that I’ve already listened to, but with actual physical books it will be harder.  And the clutter in the garage.  UGH.  Wish me luck.  

Our Governor bumped up “Ditch your Mask Day”, so we only have one more week of this.  Yay!

I hope you all have a great work week!

Book Review: History Decoded

History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, by Brad Meltzer

Have you ever wondered about the famous events of our history and whether there are conspiracy theories associated with these events?

History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time

Author Brad Meltzer has long held a curiosity about conspiracy theories and reached out to readers to compile a list of the ones that most interested them.  And boy did they deliver!  His book goes into detail on ten different historical events and their associated conspiracy theories, including some that I had never heard of. 

It was really interesting and I learned about the Georgia Guidestones and the mystery surrounding their construction.  What happened to the money from the Confederate treasury at the end of the Civil War?  I also learned about the missing cornerstones from the White House and the Capitol Building and the alleged connection to the Freemasons. 

Other tales included were historical conspiracies that I had heard and read about, including two of the most famous in U.S. history.

Did John Wilkes Booth survive and escape after the assassination of President Lincoln? 

The assassination of President Kennedy is one of the most investigated and documented events in history.  And it is rife with conspiracy theories.  Did JFK’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, really act alone?  And did Jack Ruby, who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald a few days later, act independently or was it part of a larger plan?

Overall, I felt this book was a fascinating deep dive into this less explained area of history.  Meltzer did a great job of dissecting each conspiracy theory, presenting the evidence, and discussing where the evidence fell short.  In reality, these are all theories, but who knows, maybe one or more of them will be proven true. 

4 stars. 


Irreconcilable Differences

“Irretrievably broken.”  A phrase intended to describe a relationship that cannot be repaired.  But the thing is, it sometimes takes only one party to a relationship to send it down this path.  Sure, it can be a romantic relationship, and I’ve had my fair share of those.  But every relationship requires nurturing and care.  Professional relationships.  Family ties.  Friendships.  Even acquaintanceships. 

The last two years have seen so, so many examples of irretrievably broken.  People shouting at strangers in the supermarket.  Violent workplace interactions.  People attacking others in the street.  Don’t get me started on politics.  It takes so little to treat someone with kindness and respect, so why is this a dying art form?  Is it really so difficult to not be a jerk to someone whose opinion is different than yours?  Because if you think you are right, I’ve got something to share with you.  In my 21 years of Human Resources work, I’ve learned the truth is ALWAYS somewhere in the middle. 

But it doesn’t have to be so dramatic.  It can be simple neglect.  It can be death by a thousand cuts.  It can be the snarky comments, the constant interruptions. It can be dismissing someone’s advice or expertise.  It can be digging in when really, maybe you ought to just apologize. 

A little advice for you if you find yourself on this path.  Stop talking.  Start listening.  Ask genuine questions.  And by genuine, no fair trying to bait the other person; that’s just juvenile.  Consider that maybe you aren’t right after all.  Consider that someone may have another perspective.  It may not fix things, because there is always the other party who might still be intent on napalming the bridge.  But at least you can rest easier knowing that you did what you could… 

As for me, I feel I’m on a path of irretrievably broken, despite my best efforts.  And no, I’m not talking about a romantic relationship.  I’m a Virgo, and damn I’m stubborn, so I haven’t wanted to admit defeat.  But I find myself feeling like there’s not much more I can do.  It makes me sad, and frustrated, and more than a little bit tired (that stupid insomnia certainly doesn’t help).  I don’t feel like listening.  I feel like shouting.  But in the end, my own behavior is the only thing I can control.  So I try not to do something rash (maybe no promises).  And I wish I still had some of my mentors to talk through it with. 

In the end, I feel that things are gaining momentum, but who knows which way it will go.  Thanks for listening.