Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Adversary, by Michael Crummey ~ A Book Review

 The Adversary by Canadian Author Michael Crummey, is not an easy read. I’d not read any of his works prior to being afforded the opportunity to read a pre-publication galley courtesy of and the US publisher, Doubleday Books, in exchange for an honest review. 

The grim, dark, brutal story takes place in perhaps early 19th Century Mockbeggar, with the primary business being salted cod fisheries, on the northern coast of Newfoundland. The book follows the hatred and competition for control of the fisheries and related mercantile businesses between two siblings: Abe Strapp and the Widow. 

The author employs the unique colorful language of the settlers and populates of  Mockbeggar and nearby Nonsuch with the Beadle, Matterface, Old Soot, the Duke of Limbs, Heater, and the Jerseyman all featuring prominently. 

Despite the presence of the Church of England and a society of Quakers,  most of the characters  are corrupt, soulless, conniving and mean-spirited. Because I love historical fiction and an author that uses words artfully in telling a tale, I am giving this book four stars. But, there is little positivity in The Adversary. Plague, amputations, scourging, retribution, piracy, graft, audaciously unsavory language, creative terms for body parts, a bit of unconsenting sodomy, more plague, death, death and more death. 

While I did enjoy a great deal about the book, it was  certainly not an uplifting book for the holiday season. Or a beach read. 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023 ~ A Year Filled With Challenges, New Experiences, Acceptance & Gratitude


At the beginning of each new year, I like to consider with gratitude the fact that I’ve lived a blessed life with experiences I could not have fathomed during my childhood in Logansport, Indiana. The journey has been enlightening, glorious, at times painful & sorrowful,  joyful, interesting, and given me tools of resilience, learning my self worth, and a realization that I’ve earned certain good fortune and privileges.

I am filled with gratitude that my 91 year old father is still among us, that my brother left a happy life in Texas and moved back to  Indiana to look him, and that whiskey and cigars have kept them mostly peaceful.

My husband and I celebrated the anniversary of the day we met in February at the incomparable Inn at Little Washington, a destination on our bucket lists that fulfilled all expectations. 

Then, I discovered my Lasik surgery had not failed after several years. Instead, I was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts. Despite the realization that my health insurance would not pay for the laser treatment that brings the most favorable outcomes, I decided it would be worth the expense to undergo the laser surgery with artificial lens implants. The results have been astounding. My vision is back to where it was 15 years ago. A true miracle of modern medicine. 

My delightful spousal unit convinced me to hire a personal style consultant to help me fine tune my wardrobe, eliminate items that did not serve me well, and curate a closet full of YES! I retained Lani & Kyle with Real Life Style in Washington, DC. The process was exciting, and resulted in 17 bags of donations, a virtual closet with outfits put together for me, a style profile, a guide to my power colors, and the suggestion to avoid buying anymore shoes. Well, I bought FEWER shoes in 2023. 

We adopted our orange Siberian kitty, Milo, on Mother’s Day. We’d been without an orange boy for a couple of years. Life is just better with an orange cat. How could anyone resist that sweet face!

The summer arrived with my having a frightening accident on the Pennsylvania turnpike, followed by two unsettling bacterial infections and the need to replace our entire HVAC system during the hottest weeks of July and August. But I am grateful that no other vehicles were involved in the auto accident and that modern medicine and strong antibiotics saved me from the infection that could have resulted in sepsis. Not to mention, I was able to replace the Honda Pilot with a car I love! We are fortunate that our hard work over the years have provided the financial resources to weather these challenges. 

And we finally, thanks to Elon Musk and Starlink, have reasonably priced internet service that allows us to stream video and move into the 21st century. Thanks to his ingenuity, we have Starlink, PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla. He’s earned his billions. 

The deteriorating health of my beloved in-laws has caused sadness. Todd and I are making frequent trips to Michigan and Indiana, generally separately because of our individual needs to give honor to the parents that raised us. But we are both grateful to have them still in our lives and want them to feel appreciated while they are alive rather than having regrets later. 

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is not always easy. But it does help me to keep things in perspective.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023


Merry Christmas 2023! How can it be that I am celebrating Christmas in my 64th year! How did this happen? Rhetorical, of course. The trajectory of life takes us down different paths. Life has its own ideas. It is impossible to predict where the path will take us. But, we can accept what is. 

Today, Christmas 2023, brings a multitude of feelings. My mom has been gone nearly 7 years. My heart still aches for this loss. But I celebrate the fact that my dad is still among us, a bit addled, mostly cognizant, generally positive, appreciative of friends, at times lonely. I am grateful.

My partner and I tend to eschew decorating, buying into the commercialism of Christmas, purchasing gifts that people would prefer to exchange for cash, pondering the meaning of life or considering the less than optimal choices we’ve made. Whatever!

I celebrate the best choices I’ve made, accept the less than optimal decisions I’ve made and aspire to make better decisions in the future. But, I will not give in to ideology that doesn’t resonate. Maybe it just doesn’t matter. But, I  think it does. 

 It does. HH





Sunday, December 17, 2023

Family Estrangement & Siblings


I love the family photographs from my childhood, when we were happy, innocent and unaware of the vicissitudes of life that would cause we siblings to become estranged. I love my brother and sister. Generally, at least two of us are amenable at a time. But, there have been lengthy periods when separation has been the best course of action.

Throughout adulthood my most fraught relationship involved my younger sister. At times it feels as if we were raised by different parents in different households. Our memories of childhood are so dissimilar that it feels as if we lived in alternative universes. 

Additionally, our political , real world and social views are diametrically opposed. 

She inhabits the ivory towers of academia, which I loathe with every fiber of my being. It is an ambiance of DEI, participation trophies, helicopter parenting and pandering to woke ideology that I believe has threatened western society. 

Despite my years of soft skills training, in a family environment, I failed to resist the devil on my left shoulder and share my opinions a bit too freely. Dare I admit, I addressed the pink elephant in the center of the room. Yes, I’ve said what I think, which exacerbated the schism.

Occasionally, I have regrets. I love my sister. She can be delightful, funny, inspiring, smart, feisty, and resilient. But, it is better for me to maintain my distance, protect my sanity, avoid being drawn into the morass, communicate by text once in a blue moon, and focus on my peace & serenity. I’ve fought hard to get here. I am content. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

Sandra Day O’Connor, The Icons of My Youth Keep Falling


Sandra Day O’Connor departed this world today, in the same week another icon of my youth, Henry Kissinger, left us for the great beyond.

Ronald Reagan appointed Ms. Day O’Connor  to the Supreme Court at a time when women were still pressing against a glass ceiling that has still not been shattered more than 30 years later. To a young woman coming of age at the time of her appointment, she was a lioness. 

Instead of trying to blaze a judicial trail of activism, she instead sought the middle ground, conservative, consistent, true to the Constitution, fair, equitable, considerate of precedent, unwilling to crash the Apple cart, aware of history. 

To a young woman that had to fight for equality in my own industry, standing stoic and refusing to be marginalized in the Midwest of the 1980s and early 1990’s, who endured sexism, harassment, ridicule, marginalization, discrimination and disdain for daring to take a job at what had been previously a man’s world, I understand to a limited degree the flaming hoops she had to leap through and navigate merely because she was a brilliant, educated woman.

She is a shining example of women who have braved the storm, fought the good fight, tread where no woman had gone before, and made us proud, empowered and aware of our agency. 

Rest in peace my icon. Thank you for what you endured to pave the way for future generations. Without Sandra Day O’Connor there would be no Ruth Badger Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Amy Barrett, or Elena Kagan. She broke the mold. 

Now, in 2023, we have four women on the court of nine justices! Just WOW!