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We Could All Use A Laugh Right Now!

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By Gini Rainey

One Hairy Knee – Amy Arndt

The feeling I kept getting while reading Ms. Arndt’s book was “this could have been written by a modern-day Erma Bombeck if she had been dropped smooth into East Texas or Austin as a Generation X’er or perhaps as Millenial.” I’m not ashamed to say I seriously laughed out loud while reading Amy’s first book that is based on her crazy and zany, yet at times poignant and heart-felt, life.  I also am not ashamed to say that as unique as her saga is, there was a whole lot to which I could relate.  What I’m saying here is that I think anyone of us would be able to relate to some of the madcap situations in which Amy found herself – while trying to become the best Amy ever.

Ms. Arndt, while at times a bit self-deprecating, strikes a wonderful balance between that and the strengths she developed to face some of life’s most challenging moments.  From her parents’ divorce when she was young, to truly loving and appreciating her new step-parents, from becoming a step-parent herself to over-coming postpartum depression, from dealing with head lice to knowing what a good marriage she has, Amy doesn’t pull any punches.

If raw feelings, sometimes blunt descriptions, and challenges to theological beliefs offend you, this book is not for you. If reading about someone who tackles life head on without a helmet and stands back with her hands on her hips and laughs boldly at life while encouraging you to laugh along, well, let me ask you – what are you waiting for?  This book is pretty much for you and who couldn’t use a few well-placed laughs right now!

5 of 5

Copyright 2020 – Pigeon Girl Press

 

On the Healing Road: Through the Eyes of An Adoptee – The Poet Dena

And now for something completely different. Written as therapeutic poetry, the Poet Dena tells of her struggle to unite the splintered children of her past that live within her. Given up as a baby, she was placed in a foster under the care of her second mother, until she was adopted by her third mother.  With all the anger and pain suppressed pain from feelings of abandonment, Dena managed to struggle through her life until finally, because of years of therapy and self-discovery, she was finally able to merge all of her inner children into an accepting and peaceful adult.

This book, though not terribly long, nor wordy, is not an easy read. In fact, at times it is quite painful.  Dena’s hope is by writing and sharing how she was able to accept and move on she might be able to help other adoptees to explore their own adoptions and resolve any inner struggles they be experiencing.

4 of 5

Copyright 2018 – authorHOUSE

 

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Books

Day Two of Our Stay At Home Order

By Gini Rainey

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’m so glad I have nearly five hundred cookbooks in my arsenal, although most of them won’t do me any good a time like this, which is why I’m so glad that I picked up this little cookbook about a month ago. Yes, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars might just make a difference in my life (or not) when our food supplies begin to run out.  Fortunately, our household has plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, and food (if you think I’m going to tell you my address – think again), but should we run short, it’s good to know that, not only do I have about a week’s supply of ramen to fall back on, but also a cookbook with some fairly awful recipes and in-mates stories to fall back on. 

Written by Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote, Star Trek, and West World, among others) and Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez (inmate extraordinaire) and printed in 2015 by Workman Publishing, this off-beat cookbook attempts to elevate the lowly ramen noodle to a higher level.  I never knew there were so many ways to “cook” ramen, although a lot of times, the recipes mostly call for just soaking in tepid tap water, depending on the availability of water temperature in the chef’s cell. 

Not the least bit tongue-in-cheek, the recipes, along with accompanying stories that have been included, are contributed by various inmates (past and present) of jails/prisons in the California penal system and show a lot of creative imagination on the part of the inmates.  Using whatever commissary items available, they have been able to create everything from a PB&J and a ramen tamale to Hit Man Burritos and Trejo’s Machete Ramen.  You remember Danny Trejo, don’t you? Before he became known for playing the anti-hero in dozens of movies and TV series, he was a drug counselor. Seems he also served a little bit of time. 

Trejo isn’t the only “celebrity” who contributed. Tarryn Manning (Orange is the New Black), Shia Labeouf (Man Down), David Anthony Fausino (Married…with Children), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), and Slash (Guns and Roses) also shared their recipes and stories in this book. 

I can hear all of you now, shouting at your screen “But, what about a recipe?” Let me tell you, right now, we should all be thankful that we aren’t really incarcerated and hopefully these mandated, life-saving orders aren’t life sentences, because I’m pretty sure we really won’t need to fall back on any desperate measures for food. However, if you insist, one of the least stomach challenging recipes is for “Butt-Naked Ramen Soup,” which is pretty much your basic ramen.  If you should choose to be a bit more adventuresome, you could always up your game and make “Frankie’s Soup in the Hole,” which adds one chopped Slim Jim to “Butt-Naked Ramen Soup.” 

So, let me leave you this thought: we’re all in this together and we will survive.  Be thankful for your family, be thankful for the health care professionals and be thankful you live in America. Stay healthy and happy and appreciate the smaller things in life, like sun shining, birds singing and life living. 

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Books

Give the Girl a Sammich!

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By Gini Rainey

Right now, considering all that is going on in our world, the KISS method would seem to be the best way to go with everything.  You know, Keep It Simple Silly!  I bought some new and weird cookbooks recently on ebay and I thought this might be a good time to share one of them with any of you out there that might still check periodically to see if I’m still around. Which, by the way, is probably an excellent thing for all of us to be doing right now. Give a call to some of the folks (or all of the folks) in your life who are important to you today. Our lives have all change dramatically in the past few weeks and it’s never too late to let people you love know you care. 

I was chatting with my sister a little bit ago and I reminded her of the time that I had the Asian Flu.  I checked with Google earlier to determine when that pandemic made its way around and discovered it was in 1957 – when I was nine years old. I was sick with it around Halloween time and what’s the worst possible thing that can happen to a kid when they’re nine and sick around Halloween?  Right! They can’t go Trick or Treating! My sister, who is eight years older than I and was in high school, offered to take a grocery sack around the neighborhood to collect candy for her poor little sister who was stuck at home, bedded down on the couch, with a raging fever. 

My dad, whose creativity knew no bounds, drug a six-foot ladder up out of the basement and dressed it in his overcoat.  He put our jack o lantern on the very top of the ladder, ran a string through the sleeve of the coat, and over to me on the couch.  When the doorbell rang, some poor unsuspecting, candy-hungry kid was greeted by the door slowly being opened by a ghoulish giant of a pumpkin-headed man swinging his arm maniacally at them. 

I’m sure mom made sandwiches that evening, just to keep things simple. (nice segue, huh!?!) It’s too bad she didn’t have had a copy of Scanwiches in her cookbook arsenal. This book, written by Jon Chonda and published by PowerHouse Books in 2011, is definitely one of a kind. It features amazing cross-section scans of sandwiches, along with the ingredients, place of origin, and bits of trivia. The range of sandwiches go from the super simple and humble grilled cheese sandwich all the way to a seven-layer Dagwood. From the strictly home-grown Elvis favorite of peanut butter and banana to the French Pan Bagnat and the Chinese Rou Jia Mo.  We’ve all eaten sandwiches, but the beautifully high definition scanned cross section photos of the sandwiches included in this book puts a whole new spin on the humble sandwich. Speaking of dinner, just looking through this book will give you a king-sized hunger for something yummy to eat! 

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Books

A Little Mystery for February

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By Gini Rainey

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

An instant #1 New York Times Best Seller in 2019, this second novel by the same authors of The Wife Between Us, is a creepy, scary, psychological thriller.  Placed in Manhattan, the story centers around a young girl with a troubled past who gets sucked into an ethics study devised by a psychiatrist wanting to expose her cheating husband.

After being manipulated, lied to, and being presented with a skewed morality, the main character, Jessica, finds herself deep in a situation where the lines between the study and life become blurred and paranoia begins to sink its teeth in.

A page-turner? Oh, my, yes!  This is one book that starts off a bit slow, but gains speed the further in you get.  Easy to figure out the ending?  Not on your life.  The twists and turns the plot keeps taking will have you on the edge of your seat and not quite sure who to root for.

On my recommendation, grab a glass of wine, sit in your comfy chair, and get ready for a great literary ride through the psychosis of the deranged mind of this wife.  You will not regret it!  (you might want to bring the whole bottle of wine along for the ride!)

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – St. Martins Press

 

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

This charming little book, translated from Swedish to English by Marlaine Delargy, is a collection of five delightfully macabre short stories centering around the main character, Maud, and her dastardly deeds.  Maud is an unassuming, frail-appearing, little 88 year old lady who takes it upon herself to take out individuals who, for one reason or another, have fatally entered Maud’s life.

While taking on the persona of an innocent, helpless old woman with the help of canes, walkers, and hearing aids, Maud is anything but helpless as she cleverly plots the murder of an individual in each of the five different short stories.

This is an easy read and provides a bit of humor to those of us who know the elderly, are related to the elderly, or are the elderly!  I just wish it had been longer, I was really beginning to enjoy the conniving antics of this charming, yet dastardly, lady.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – SoHo Press

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