Almost that Time! #Blogging Break Approaching and a Tip!

Just a short note to let you know this will be my last post here until mid-March. As our winter escape to Mexico draws nearer, there are so many loose ends to tie up, not to mention – packing! As some of you who have read my little travel book, Have Bags, Will Travel, you can appreciate that getting ready to travel for me is a temporary full-time job, lol. First I pick all the things I want to take (just about everything except the kitchen sink) then I get out the old scales and start purging backwards what won’t fit in the weight allowance. It’s a science and an art I tell ya!


Don’t even get me started with the new Coronavirus .

There isn’t a mask left for sale in the city! We always wear masks when we travel without this new global threat, after contracting Influenza on the plane ride home from Arizona 4 years ago. I had one left in my carryon from last year’s trip and went on a mad hunt to no avail – until I tried my local independent pharmacy nearby where I have a good rapport with the owner, after scouting out several big pharmacies and Walmart. My friendly pharmacist told me he held back one box of surgical masks to sell them individually to those who were in desperate need of a mask – the sick and those traveling on airplanes. He generously sold me 4! No doubts I’ll have lots of travel stories to share upon my return!

This vacation is going to be a luxurious, well-needed busy getaway. We have lots of visitors coming and going to stay with us and many regular snowbird friends who rent in the same complex to socialize with. Plus, I’ve been checking out the real estate market in beautiful Puerto Vallarta where we are contemplating purchasing a condo for ourselves to possibly rent out and possibly even move to in the future, so I will undoubtedly be a busy bee having some look and sees and the lay of the land.

So for those of you who are used to seeing my gravatar around the blogosphere and social media, I won’t be doing my regular visits, but may pop by occasionally when time permits. I also won’t be posting here till I’m back settled because I don’t like to leave comments unanswered. So don’t forget me!

Before signing off here I’m going to leave you all with an important tip when taking out travel health insurance – Do your homework!!! If you’re traveling, never go away without travel health coverage, and never take the first quote!

If your country isn’t offering a good price, check into global travel health insurance companies, where you can search for your best rate. I learned this year how much the insurance company we’ve been using for years ‘exclusive’ members only from our bank was ripping us off – well my husband’s insurance for sure! It’s a fact once seniors turn 80 rates are considerably higher for travel insurance – especially with pre-existing conditions. I trusted my bank for too long. I went on a 2 day comparison search before insuring my husband and much to my delight, I found that our Canadian Blue Cross  gave a fair and just rate in my comparisons. How much of a difference? Are you sitting down? My bank wanted $2500.00 to insure my husband. Thank you Blue Cross. I have never been happier to fork over $720 FOR THE EXACT SAME COVERAGE!!! One third of the price!!! So don’t be fooled for ‘exclusively for you’ bullshit!

So take care everyone. Keep writing and stay safe as I plan on doing both. Adios!





Sunday Book Review – The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

My last Sunday Book Review until March when I will return to blogging from my winter blogging break. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. The Dutch house where Danny and Maeve grew up in Pennsylvania is the center of this story, what the house symbolized, the people who lived in it before and after, and the compulsion these siblings shared for not being able to make sense of the past that haunts them throughout their present.





A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

From the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder, comes Ann Patchett’s most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are.

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.


My 3 Star Review:

The story is told in 3 parts, narrated by Danny, the youngest of the 2 Conroy siblings who are essentially each other’s lifeline in this what reads as a broken fairy tale.

The Dutch House spans 3 generations and 5 decades, and in the beginning we are introduced to siblings Danny and Maeve who grew up in the Dutch House, named for the first owners of the home before them in 1922 by the Vanhoebeeks. The children’s mother abandoned them when they were just 10 and 4 years old shortly after moving in. Raised by their father Cyril who came from poor beginnings and managed to save enough money to start his life in the real estate/landlord business, Cyril purchased the Dutch House to raise his family, and not long after his wife Elna decides to take off and abandon her family.

Maeve and Danny are everything to each other – as children and through adult life. Their cook and housekeepers Sandy, Fluffy and Jocelyn become more of mothers to them than they’ve ever had. Eventually, Cyril remarries a mean-spirited younger woman – we don’t learn why he married her, but we’re made to understand Andrea loves money and nice things and was determined to move into the Dutch house. Andrea comes with 2 daughters, the elder of the 2, Norma, takes over Maeve’s bedroom. There is is a new distance in the home and a few years later, when the kids find out that Cyril left everything to Andrea after he died of a heart attack, Maeve finds out from the family lawyer the only funds available are for an education trust. Maeve and Danny plot that Danny will go to medical school to eat up a good chunk of the fund before Andrea’s kids can use it up. Danny goes off to medical school while Maeve gets her own apartment and they leave the Dutch House – but their hearts never leave. They spend the years getting together visiting the house by pulling up near it and revisiting their lives while sitting in the car unseen.

Danny becomes a doctor and doesn’t want to be one. He wants to be a landlord like his father, and that’s exactly what he does after becoming a doctor. He marries Celeste and has 2 children, while Maeve never marries and despite Danny’s marriage, it appears more like Danny and Maeve are married as their unshakeable bond never dissipates.

Late in the story, Elna reappears and enters back in their lives. This is where I start to feel the story a bit far-fetched. Life is a circle and often the past revisits us, but, after initially learning very little about Elna -especially why she’d leave her children, I felt very detached from the story. I kept reading the book from early on waiting and waiting to learn about the big secret why Elna left her children, but there wasn’t much mentioned other than she wanted to go help the poor. I felt it was a lame excuse for her to leave her children as there are plenty of ways to be charitable without having to leave your family without a word, just disappearing.

The story has rich characters and complicated relationships born from this dysfunctional family. It’s a tale about siblings left to fend for themselves, inheritance, and a lot of jumping back in forth in time. I felt when I first got into the book that the story was building to ‘what happened to Elna?’ but was abandoned and became secondary and then finally disappointing when she re-enters her children’s lives too far near the end of the book, unsatisfactory reasons for leaving after all the mystery throughout the book, no meat in discussions of the long gone mother finally seeing her kids again, and an unsatisfying ending with a pertinent happening out of the blue that killed it for me. (No spoilers).


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Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge – #Senryu

I couldn’t resist sneaking in a Senryu for this week’s Poetry Challenge at Colleen Chesebro’s blog. This week’s prompt is a phrase: The Circle of Life. Short  poem with a big message.



This week for our poetry challenge, I chose the theme, “the circle of life.” On Monday, I’ll reblog someone’s poem and offer them the opportunity to choose the theme for next month. I like the idea of more participation and choice by the challenge participants. This should be fun!



We haven’t talked about Senryu for a long time. Remember, they are the sister or brother to Haiku, but instead of being nature related, they are often humorous or filled with irony.

The same rules apply to this form as they do in Haiku. Traditional Senryu is 5/7/5, current Senryu is 3/5/3, or 2/3/2.


You can visit Colleen’s Challenge and learn the rules and hop on!


The Circle of Life


What you give you get.

Karma, she never forgets.

Written agenda.