Puerto Vallarta, #Mexico Part 3, Fun, Sun, Shopping and Friends

Welcome to Part 3 of my winter away in Puerto Vallarta. Today I’m going to share more photos and a few video clips to give you the vibe and describe a bit more about interesting facts and observations about vacationing in PV.

Bartering

I’ll start with shopping. In stores, the price is the price. But when visiting outdoor markets or buying from beach vendors, don’t forget to bargain or I promise you’ll be paying too much. Typically, when a beach or market vendor offers you prices for their wares, I’ve discovered that they will usually double the actual price of what they will eventually accept. They are crafty sellers and they know there are many new tourists who they can snag in at too high prices, often not taking into account the many repeat visitors who know the game.

Often the vendors that peddle their wares along the beach aren’t always selling their own hand-crafted goods, but they are selling for other people’s stores. They have a price they must get to both, pay for those goods and make a small profit. I know this game well, especially as a seasoned shopper. I may not always be buying, but I look and always check prices. Let’s say someone is selling beach covers on the beach. Typically, if you go downtown to markets and such you will see these same covers going for $250 to $400 Pesos (range of $12-$25 US dollars) but you can be sure if you ask ‘Pedro’ on the beach, how much, he’ll ask you for $800 Pesos. That’s when I laugh and joke around and say things like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And I’d say I can get the same thing downtown for ‘x’ amount. Then the negotiations begin as ‘Pedro’ will rebutt with asking how much would I be willing to pay. It’s just the way the game goes. I know that if they are asking $800, it’s really valued around half. If I want the item I’ll offer $400, usually never accepted right away. He’ll come back at around $600 and I’ll say I don’t need it that bad for $600 but I’ll take it for $400. After all is said and bartered, I’ll walk away with the item for $450, $500 max. I get what I want, and I know he got to make some profit without ripping me off.

Le hat

Above is the perfect demonstration of waiting for the right price. I saw this unique hat downtown in an over-priced store near the beginning of my trip and fell in love with it. It came in various colors and the brim was all hand embroidered. When I first saw this hat, the store wanted $60 US dollars for it! And they didn’t even care to bargain so I left it and kept my eye out for it in my many travels, but everywhere I did manage to find this style I found it too over-priced. Until I went out for the day with my friends Jamie and Pat to Bucerias and we walked through the market, and there they were again. The goods were cheaper up there than downtown PV. I didn’t even bargain when I found this beauty, the young girl was so sweet sitting outside her little kiosk in the sun. I asked how much and she told me $380 Pesos – equivalent of about $25 Canadian dollars. Sold!

My friend Shelley and I went on a few shopping jaunts together, but we also went grocery shopping together a few times too. I can tell you that grocery prices have gone up there like everywhere else. The food in PV is delicious and freshly made in restaurants, and to my knowledge and taste buds – without preservatives, a refreshing change from North America. I felt my grocery bill had gone up about ten percent since 2020, and definitely noticed the upcharges in restaurants and bar drinks. I used to be able to eat a dinner out for $12 that became $15, and sometimes upwards of $20, depending on where I went out to eat at. Fish is relatively cheap in PV and brought in fresh daily to many restaurants. Shrimps are cheap and plentiful on every menu and marlin, mahi mahi and snapper are always on menus.

Shelley took this at the upscale supermarket – La Comer. In this section they make fresh tortillas daily

This is a glimpse of this huge, well appointed supermarket, fresh meat and fish section

The bar drinks went up quite a bit too, considering alcohol is relatively cheap to buy there. Drink prices almost doubled for the most part in most restaurants and at the pool. Beers were typically a dollar, now three dollars. Mixed drinks that used to cost about three dollars became six, seven and eight, depending where you went. I used to like to order the odd Pina Colada at the pool in the afternoon (a little easier to handle during the day than margaritas), until they doubled the price while I was there. Instead of paying eight dollars for a drink I decided to replenish my own bar in my condo and bought a bottle of rum, crema de coconut and pineapple juice, all for under $18 and made myself many afternoon drinks for less than a dollar.

Best Pina Colada with authentic recipe. Malibu Rum, Crema de Coconut, Pineapple Juice and a splash of lime

Shelley and I went downtown to the factory where they sell all the beautiful blown drinking glasses and accessories. I wanted to buy so many things but wound up only buying two giant martini glasses and two shot glasses because the glass is heavy and I had no room to spare in my carryon bag. The margarita glasses weighed more than the martini glasses. They do the safe wrapping there too. The only danger were the rows and rows of shelving full of glassware we’d walk up and down through the aisles looking at. I had my big beach shopping bag slung over my shoulder and had to hold it close to avoid being a bull in a china shop.

Beautiful blown glass

Of course we had to stop for a libation in between shopping.

Me and Shelley (Shelster) stopping in a watering hole

This a photo of the famous ‘Our Lady Of Guadalupe’ church near the center square down by the boardwalk/malecon. Many church-going folk tourists go there for Sunday morning service, and it is often referred to as a meeting point when people make plans to meet downtown.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Below is a short veryyy amateur video I took of me, Shelley and our new girlfriends from Alberta, Carol and Sharon. The four of us were crazy together and somehow we had created alias names for ourselves. Carol became Pat McGuilicutty, Sharon was Marge Simpson (because she piled her massive hair two feet high on her head most days at pool, except it wasn’t blue. I dubbed Shelley, Shirley Shelster, and I was named Sheila Tequila. We went downtown for Happy Hour and a pub crawl.

Pub crawl in PV

Here’s a small sampling of downtown Malecon. Me, Shelley and John spent the day downtown one day, walking, shopping and of course a few drink pit stops.

Downtown boardwalk

Here’s an interesting picture I took while we were at a red light on the way back from downtown. You never know what you will see in PV for a hand out.

Guy on a unicycle right in front of our cab

They come in all shapes and sizes there, geckos, lizards and salamanders

This guy was hanging out near the pool steps to lobby

On my last night in PV, Shelley and John, Wendy and Jerry, had already left the day before. Brenda and Saul were already home. Thankfully, Jamie (Ukranie) and Pat were leaving the next day also, we were the last of the diehards left and we went downtown for dinner. Jamie left early because he had to attend to a Zoom conference, leaving me and Patty Girl to our own devices. So we walked over to the Margarita Grill our favorite landing spot when going downtown for a good margarita.

Margarita Grill

Last night in PV drinking our medium sized margaritas

After margaritas and a tequila shot, Patty and I walked across the street to the always busy Dolce Vita restaurant and sat down at the bar and finished off our night with Spanish Coffees before heading home.

This vacation started off as a slow burn as I was apprehensive in going solo, discovered friends who I thought were friends, weren’t really, then ultimately, meeting some fantastic new friends who made my time in PV very special. These are not just PV friends, these are all new good friends that I keep in touch with and will not only be meeting up with again next winter, but I plan on taking Patty and Jamie up on their offer to visit them in Vancouver this summer, as well as my pals Shel, and John because they live right here in Ontario about an hour and half away. I will also be visiting them this summer. A great gang of people and blessed to make all their acquaintenances.

My Winnipeg girls, Wendy and Brenda

Dakotas
My North Dakota Girls Jackie and Kathie

Sharon, me, Carol and Shel

Wendy and Jerry (the artist)

Shelley and John

Bobbie and Shawn also from Ontario

Me, Patty, Jamie, Shelley and John

Thank you all my new wonderful friends for making my trip so much fun!

I hope you all enjoyed reading and watching slices of my winter escape to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

©DGKaye2022

Halloween Musings – Photos, Friends and Silliness

Time to share a few photos and friends here for some Halloween Musings. Let me preface this post by saying that as usual, my techie world still doesn’t wish to comply with my needs. Hence, some of the video clips may not surface for a long time. I spent two hours making a guess mess of the one clip I did try to edit – too bad I couldn’t edit the gum right out of my mouth too. LOL. So please excuse my amateur camera work, confirming I should just stick to writing.

 

Our first girl get-together earlier last week with our ‘gang of girls’, took place at Sanja’s niece’s home downtown in the city. As always, it was like years never passed, and a good forty of them we’ve all been friends. This picture below shows how we all look – pre our Halloween costumes on the weekend.

 

girl's nite

From the top left: Anna, Marg, Me, bottom left: Sanja, Al, Kokie

 

 

A rare sighting, I snapped up this photo fast of my two besties together, Anna and Sanja

 

My two besties

 

 

It was Halloween weekend and with my bestie Sanja in town from the UK, she wanted to have a Halloween party up at her sister Kokie’s house in our great white north – cottage country where she lives.

Alyson and Marg picked me up as we headed the journey up north with our many bags – food, costumes and libations. We had many a laugh as the day into night progressed. Marg dressed as an old woman in a housedress and a wig that came complete with a babushka kerchief and glasses that looked like something that ‘Flo’ from the old TV show, Alice, would wear. Pre-party, Marg demonstrated her Halloween look and insisted each of us try on her get up. I tried to refuse, but there’s no such thing as refusing around this gang.

 

Margaret's headgear

Margaret’s head garb

 

Sanja in Marg's wig

Sanja looking full on Flo

 

Alyson

Alyson looking hilarious

 

DG Kaye in wig

Yup, here I am as I couldn’t escape the clutches of Marg

 

And for good measure, there’s a side profile look too

Halloween me

 

Me asa some kind of She Devil

My She Devil costume

 

Sanja and Marg

Sanja and Marg acting like their normal selves

 

Kokie's turn

Kokie’s turn

 

friends

Me, San, Kokie, Al

 

We danced, we ate, we drank, we laughed. And we sang. In between the good music – courtesy of Spotify, Kokie’s friend Patrick played guitar and we had some hilarious sing-a-longs. As I was busy flitting around I caught quite a few music interlude snippets on video and wanted to share them here, unfortunately, my techie madness continues and somehow my laptop wants nothing to do with downloading videos from my phone. Below is a feeble attempt at a video I tried to edit (not well), and this is what I got:

 

Please know there was alcohol involved in this performance 😁🤣😍🎃💄

 

 

Apparently, I lost the dance Marg and I were doing and some off-tune singing, so clearly, video editing is not my thing.

 

It was a fun weekend with just a dozen of us eating, dancing, singing, ping ponging, and most of all, laughing up in our Canadian great white north which isn’t yet white, but based on the temps outside now and my wearing furry socks and lounge wear indoors, I’d say the’ white stuff’ is soon on its way.

 

©DGKaye2021

 

 

Smorgasbord Coffee Morning – Bring a Guest – Meet My Best Friend San by D.G. Kaye | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I was thrilled to be over at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord for her #Influencer – Coffee Morning, Bring a Friend series. In this post, I’m unmasking Zan (San) one of my oldest best friends, and our relationship that has survived the distance and decades.

 

Smorgasbord Coffee Morning – Bring a Guest – Meet My Best Friend San by D.G. Kaye

 

 

Today a story of friendship that has thrived despite distance and pandemics for over forty years Debby Gies brings her best friend Sanja to coffee.

 

Meet My Best Friend San by D.G. Kaye

 

Today I’d like to introduce you all to my best friend Sanja, a.k.a., Zan, who you may recognize her name from some of my books. Sanja, pronounced – like ‘S’ plus ‘on’, plus ‘yaw’. I call her San (sounding like sand without the ‘d’) and when I call her by her full name, I pronounce it as San Ja, as in ‘jaw’. You will learn later how we love to make up new words.

 

We’ve been friends since we were both nineteen years old. That’s a long time, but then again, never enough. I met San when I moved away from home and worked part time in the building I was living in at the Recreation Center. I was the receptionist and gatekeeper of law and order of the gym, and San was a part time lifeguard up at the pool. After a few shifts together and one very quiet day at the Center, I buzzed up to the pool to ask her a question, and we blabbed away most of our shift. That was the beginning of our lifelong friendship.

 

 

Me and San

This photo is us in our early twenties. Me with my blond hair streaked more blond and San with her natural hair color – until we changed our colors.

 

I should actually write a book about us and our shenanigans through the decades together, and most likely I will, but for now I’ll talk about how San became my ‘person’ in life through thick and thin, and how even an ocean that has separated us geographically for the last twenty-eight years never hindered our connection.

 

I grew up in a world of ‘colorful’ characters in my mother’s circles and with very conservative Orthodox Jews on my father’s side, despite my father never living his life as a conservative Jew. So that spectrum of my life was a total oxymoron when it came to family. I was a precocious, inquisitive, clever and street-wise child from a young age.

 

Because my mother was a social butterfly, barely home, we spent way too much time at our paternal grandparents’ growing up, a good ‘dump off’ spot for my mother. There was nothing Jewish about our family other than we were, and we went to synagogue with our dad and grandparents on all the high holidays out of respect for my dominating grandparents. Back at home we ate bacon and pork (although I personally no longer eat pork, as a choice, not religion) and my dad (when he was ever living with us), loved to order in Chinese Food or Pizza. I look back and it isn’t difficult to see how dysfunctional my family always was. And the funniest part was my, not even fully Jewish mother, who never had time to mother, had made it clear to me that I could only date Jewish guys. LMAO.

 

Okay, maybe I digressed here, but I had to set the setting to how my friend San turned my life into a 180.

 

Where I grew up, I only ever knew Jewish people. Exceptions were some of those ‘colorful’ characters I mentioned earlier in my mother’s gambling and racetrack circles. Heck, even my high school was 99 point something percent Jewish. After my tumultuous homelife and my parents’ many break ups, they finally divorced when I was sixteen. Two years later, my dad decided to sell our family home. My Aunty Sherry (my mother’s sister, and more my mother to me than my own mother), who happened to be a rental agent for a popular apartment complex mid-town in the city, hatched a plan with my father, to set me up on my own, to set me free from my mother’s rule, and allow me to experience life. My aunt got me a primo apartment and my dad paid my rent for two years until I could get myself sorted in what I wanted to do or be in life.

 

Enter San. There was an instant connection with us that first day we yacked for hours together at work. San, too, came from a somewhat dysfunctional family life, and that may have been the first thing we bonded over. Despite us being the same age (I’m actually 5 months older), I always look up to her like an older sister, sometimes even as a mother. I remember always feeling safe with her, safe to say anything, and protected. San was and is very nurturing and tactile, she’s warm and loving to everyone. When she enters a room, there’s a light that just puts her right in it. Despite the fact she’s physically beautiful, her heart and soul are equally beautiful, and she can often be the loudest one in the room. I warn, put us together and you will have a party. Until I met San, I’d grown up afraid of my mother, afraid to ask questions (I’d seek them out in other ways), zero talking about birds and bees, and the words “I love you” were not common practice anywhere in my life.

 

San introduced me to a whole new world of friends, and of living. And she taught me what unconditional love meant and taught me it was okay to tell people I loved them – something which felt most difficult to say all my life. She had/has many pet names for me and would often hug me and tell me she loved me. Oh, it felt so weird in the beginning, and of course, I felt so comfortable talking to her like I never had with anyone in my life until that point – not even my Aunty Sherry. I couldn’t tell my aunt my deepest feelings, for fear her allegiance to my mother would have her share anything noteworthy.

 

Friends

This photo was taken at one of girl get-togethers we do when Sanja comes home, about four years ago. This is my tribe. From left to right is me, Al, San, and my other bestie Anna, better known in my books as Bri.

 

San brought me into her world of close friends, who ultimately became my tribe of friends too. And as we grew and had various jobs, we’d both meet new people we’d introduce to each other, and our circle of friends grew. Only two people were Jewish in my wonderful new circle of multi-cultural friends, and I was loving and enjoying life. My first real best friend San is from the formerly known – Yugoslavia, now known as Croatia, and I fell in love with dating Italian men. I was introduced to a new world of diversity and I was never so happy.

 

I’d taken the opportunity to go back to university while my dad was helping me out and San was going to ‘beauty school’ to become an aesthetician. We remained working at the Rec Center a few more years, part time and Saturdays. And she made a damn fine aesthetician at that career, and magically, I had my own personal manicurist. San also taught me how to apply eye-shadow – PROPERLY. And she gave me the big thumbs down one time she caught me experimenting with BLUE eyeshadow. She still reminds me about that decades later. So, my best friend, sister/mother, social director, teacher of love was the pinnacle of my new life.

 

Through the years in our twenties, both San and I had active social lives, together, and in our own other various groups of friends. Her then fiancé and eventual first husband Jake lived in my building at the time with his parents while they were dating. Needless to say, San and Jake pretty much hung out at my place in our early years, as I was the one with my own place and they both still lived at home.

 

Our lives were full and exciting, and despite how busy our lives were, we were always together for everything that mattered. I had lost my father, both my grandparents and my Aunty Sherry in that first decade on my own, and besides always being by my side for life’s up and down’s, nursing me back to mental health on several occasions, San was always there to put me back together.

 

 

Best friends

This photo was taken in the late eighties, just before I turned into a redhead. We were at a party.

 

The years passed and nothing separated us, not even San’s first two marriages. Husbands knew I was an appendage to San, and we still remained besties and there for each other always. Until that fateful day when San was going through some hardship of her own, she serendipitously met her soon to be third husband, only, he was visiting Toronto on business, and he lived in the U.K. In a whirlwind love affair, and after only a few short months of serious dating – flying back and forth to the U.K., among other amazing trips Tray took San on to some exotic places in the world, San announced she’s selling her house and moving to the U.K. with Tray. If I didn’t know heartache yet, and I had had plenty by then, I knew what a broken heart felt like way back then, but the pain of feeling your losing your best friend, confidante, mother, sister, all rolled in one, was almost too much to bear. After almost fifteen years of being attached to my best friend, she was leaving me, or so I thought, because that’s how it felt. . . Please continue reading at Sally’s blog to find out how our friendship survived the miles.

 

 

Original Source: Smorgasbord Coffee Morning – Bring a Guest – Meet My Best Friend San by D.G. Kaye | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

 

©DGKaye2021

 

Updates – Moving On and Best Friends

 

 

Wow! It’s been so long since I posted a personal update here for you. I don’t know where the time has gotten to, but considering my last post a few weeks ago, talking about my brutal move and hearing Johnny Cash on the radio, and the post prior, talking about my moving in July and my BFF coming from the U.K., ya, well, that didn’t happen. But a few things have. And so I’ll fill you in.

 

My bestie from U.K. did not get here because our airports wouldn’t allow non-essential visitors without having to quarantine in a hotel at her own expense, for fourteen days. Heck, so many people can’t even afford to stay that long, so why would they want to spend it alone in quarantine? They only began allowing Canadian residents to come back home, in late June. And now it’s September 7th supposedly, where leisure air travelers will be welcome, as long as they’ve been double vaxxed and Covid tested prior to flight then no quarantine required.

 

Well this new time frame threw a wrench into my U.K. plans. And in the meantime, my friend Zan has sold her house again and will soon be moving to a rental home in a few weeks and she and her hubby will begin a new house project from scratch on the land they’ve purchased. So now, until she gets moved in and her and her hub take a private getaway for a week or so to Italy after their move, their first holiday since Covid struck, she will probably be here in late September. So it’s looking like some time in October I’ll be flying back with her to the U.K. It’s a tough wait, but probably better for time to pass as the summer crowds should be more tame, easier for traveling – maybe a jaunt to France, maybe to Italy, but definitely to Spain, and hopefully more time for the Covid to simmer down. Heck! I may even stay through Christmas, come back, and pack up for Mexico. All I know is I must get out of this constant space and spread my wings and breathe. I have no clue what I’m doing the rest of my life, but I sure as hell know I won’t find out by sitting on a couch with a computer. Nobody is going to come banging my door down with opportunity. I have to get back out into the world.

 

The last week of July, I took a little trip with my girlfriend Alison. We both needed to get out of our four walls, so we rented a hotel room up north here in cottage country for a few days. But, as it turned out, Zan’s sister lived twenty minutes from where we were staying and once Zan told her sister we were there, she swiftly invited us to stay with her instead. So, we stayed the one night at the hotel and off to Kokie’s beautiful home for almost a week! It was a slice of heaven to be in the fresh air and steal a few days at the beach when the usual rainy weather would let up. We had lots of fun yacking, Netflixing, walking, shopping vintage stores and playing Mexican Train Dominoes – a fun variation of Dominoes.

 

It was a lovely mini getaway and I look forward to Zan’s visit here so we can go back up to her sister’s house once she ever arrives here.

 

Coming back to my new abode felt a bit strange and back to reality. I am trying to establish somewhat of a new routine for myself without my husband and now, four months after his passing, everything still feels strange and out of sorts for me without a comforting familiarity.

 

And then something wonderful happened in the midst of my sadness and loneliness, I got a condolence message from my other BFF Bri. We had a falling out a few years back, and sadly, stubbornness had kept that distance hanging. I was elated to hear from her. She adored my husband, and I had wondered why I hadn’t heard from her, thinking she’d have heard the news, but she hadn’t. When she found out, she sent me a message. I replied, and the next thing I knew, we were gabbing on the phone for hours. A few days later, we met at my husband’s grave and spent a few hours together there sitting on the grass, filling each other in on our lives while apart. The day turned into night after picking up some food and killing a bottle of wine together on my balcony at home.

 

The reunion was just what my heart needed, and both of us said to each other that it was my husband who subtly found a way to inform her about his demise and he knew we had to get back together. We both felt that. The whole thing was divine intervention how it all came about, and the fact that I’m pretty much family-less now (a book for another time),  there is no comfort like a best friend who has been in my life for 37 years. She knows all the ghosts, good and bad, and understands my loss better than any family could ever imagine what I’m living.

 

God and the universe certainly do work in mysterious ways. Everything has its time and place. Yes, Zan never got here for my turbulent move, but had she come and the lockdowns coming and going, turns out, Canadians too are being made to quarantine right now still going to U.K. and I wouldn’t be interested in doing that either. Not to mention the new wave the U.K. has been experiencing much of July. Then there’s Zan’s sudden house sale and getting ready to move later this month. Suffice it to say, divine timing is looking much better for the fall than the summer. And in my deep and dark moments, waiting once again for this U.K. connection to happen, my husband and the angels were at work bringing me back together with Bri.

 

In the meantime, I am getting my feet deeper back into blogland. I do hope to get the mental energy up to get back to my MS I completed last fall and get that off to the editor by September. Lots of things up in the air, but definitely some good things to look forward to. I feel uplifted when I have something to look forward to, despite my loneliness and ache for my beloved husband that follows me wherever I may go, making plans and friendships are what keeps me out of ‘the dark’.

 

©DGKaye2021

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – February 2021 – Online Dating – Staying Safe | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Today I’m sharing my monthly article on Realms of Relationships, I write for Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Blog magazine. For February edition, I’m speaking about safety and vetting for online dating.

 

Welcome back to my Realms of Relationships Column at the Smorgasbord. In last month’s edition I talked about Online Communications regarding scam emails and how to beware of them. In this issue, I’m going to talk more about Online Romantic Relationships and what to look for when vetting potential mates.

 

Face to face

 

Back in the day, meeting potential love interests entailed going out and meeting people and mingling. Now this could happen anywhere, but in my heydays, going dancing at clubs two-three times a week afforded me the chance to meet many potential dates, despite my policy ‘never to go out with anyone I met in a bar or club’, and I stuck to that. But I sure had my share of romantic relationships – often with the wrong types as I lived and learned, and many of those relationships began with people I met at the workplace.

In those ancient times, like modern times, we dated and rated our suitors through the time we spent in those relationships. Sure, socially active people out in public still do meet their significant others, but with the advent of technology, many more are going to dating sites in search of someone to fill their emptiness, looking for love. And meeting a potential suitor on the internet comes with its own set of rules – because we are getting to know someone online – sight unseen, going on the information we receive from them. But what if they’re lying about who they are? How do we vet these unknown strangers we may become attracted to, to help verify if they are who they say they are?

 

online dating

 

Let’s dig in!

We’ve come a long way from the days of getting all dressed and looking our best to go out on the town, hoping to make a connection when looking for love. Sure, it still happens, but not as much as internet dating sites and social media apps are common ground now for those searching for a mate.

As a person who studies people for a hobby, I’ve learned to adjust my sails when trying to figure out the validity of online people. I can say with authority, that there are a lot of lurkers on social media who try to hit on women. I have no doubts, that there are just as many women who prey on men too. I’m speaking as a woman who gets stalked occasionally – especially on Facebook, as do quite a few of my colleagues.

I’m going to attribute my vetting experience to being an avid watcher of police procedurals for many years – part of my fascination with studying people, curious to learn what spurs their criminal tendencies.

 

First up: What to beware of:

 

Fast Eddies – This is my name for suitors that haven’t spent enough chat time getting to know each other and who go gung-ho for setting up a live meet. Just no! There’s a lot more vetting to do before you should get to that part.

 

No photo – Anyone who won’t post a photo, in my books, doesn’t have good intentions, or has something to hide. And if they do post a photo, make sure you use an app like Tineye. This app allows you to plug in any photo, whether downloaded or using copy and paste, and checks the origins of the image.

Please continue reading at Sally’s blog.

 

Source: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – February 2021 – Online Dating – Staying Safe | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

©DGKaye2021

bitmo live laugh love

P.S. Thank you WordPress for putting out my Tuesday post  on Sunday. Not.

Sunday Book Review – Little Tea by Claire Fullerton

My Sunday Book Review is for Claire Fullerton’s Little Tea. Claire writes fine southern fiction with stellar prose that takes us right into the south alongside her. Three best friends reunite twenty some years later to catch up on their lives through reminiscing the past.

 

 

 

Blurb:

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

 

My 5 Star Review:

A tale that encompasses several topics of life – family, friendship, racism, mental health, and tragedy. Southern fiction at its best. We’re introduced to the triangular friendship between Celia, Renny and Ava, friends from childhood, in a reunion visit up to Renny’s lakehouse where the girls recant stories, memories, and unresolved issues from their pasts, introducing the many characters who played parts in their lives.

Celia managed to leave the deep south and is happily married now living in California, but the girlfriend reunion brings up some painful memories that Celia Wakefield finds herself now having to put closure on, including her ex-fiance Tate whose deep south family wasn’t too accepting of Celia’s close friendship with ‘black people’, – mainly her oldest best friend Little Tea and her family. And once tragedy struck within the plantation, a silent slithering away of Tate occurred.

The story goes back and forth through time – current day at Renny’s lake house in Arkansas where the reunion takes place and back in the 1980s when they were younger girls where we’re taken into Celia’s younger life with her family living in Mississippi on their cotton plantation and the black hired help living on that land in a cottage, becoming closer than most with their white bosses in the still divided south. Thelonius and Elvita and their daughter Little Tea who becomes Celia’s best friend, and ultimately, the love interest of Celia’s brother Hayward – still in a dangerous time for mixed races to show themselves publicly, but accepted within the family – except for Celia’s eldest brother John who comes off racist.

In this story, the past comes back to haunt as it does in real life. Celia must find closure, Ava must choose her happiness between two men, and Renny is the host where everyone meets up at her place to mull over their pasts and solidfy their futures. Renny is the group organizer. And nobody knows the deep dark secrets better than the three girls.

Some wonderful prose to quote from this book. Here are just two:

Little Tea and Celia discussing Tea’s plans after graduating high school: “I know times have changed for people of color, but there’s a residue that’ll stick around forever.”

Celia talking to her brother Hayward about their grandmother’s racism, trying to figure why as someone who came from poverty and now riches, why she didn’t have compassion: “People attack what they fear.” “People always have to have something to look down on.”

 

©DGKaye2020

bitmo live laugh love

 

#AuthorChat Q & A With D.G. Kaye is Featuring Claire Fullerton and Little Tea

Welcome to the second of my June interviews at my #AuthorChat – Q & A with D.G. Kaye. Today I’m excited to be featuring author Claire Fullerton with her new release, Little Tea.  Claire writes beautiful women’s fiction with a touch of southern charm, and I’m thrilled to have here with us today to talk about her new book, which I can’t wait to sink my eyes into!

 

author Claire Fullerton

 

About Claire:

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Little Tea, the August selection of The Pulpwood Queens Book Club. Claire is the author of 5-time award winning, Mourning Dove; Dancing to an Irish Reel; and A Portal in Time. Her novella, Through an Autumn Window, is included in the book, A Southern Season. Her work has appeared in Celtic Life International, Southern Writers Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern
Literature, and others. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency.

 

 

Blurb:

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

 

So let’s get into some Q & A and get to know more about Claire and what fuels her writing!

 

 

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?

I have written four published novels and one novella, all traditionally
published. I have recently completed a manuscript, which I will revisit soon.

D.G. – Wow Claire, you are on fire girl!

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

I have a few! I’ll mention Ron Rash, for his spare, poetic use of regional
language; Billy O’Callaghan for his stream of consciousness sentences, and Pat
Conroy for his fearlessness, stellar vocabulary, and lyrical sentences.

D.G. – Now, Pat Conroy, oh ya – The Prince of Tides 🙂

 

Do you watch TV? If so, what is your favorite show and why?

I love the British detective series: Foyle’s War, Inspector George Gently,
Endeavour, Shetland, all those intelligent, well-written shows filmed on
location.

D.G, – I can’t say I’ve ever heard of any of those, so thanks for sharing these shows.

 

What is the best money you’ve spent with regard to your writing?

Flying to Jefferson, Texas to be a featured author at The Pulpwood
Queens Girlfriend Weekend. The Pulpwood Queens is a book club with 785
chapters, and each January, a three-day book festival unites authors and
readers.

D.G. – Wow that sounds amazing!!!

 

Your recent release, Little Tea, is set in the Deep South. Why do you like the South as a setting?

The South, as a culture, seems to me the last romantic region in America.
It has a storied past and a rich tradition of storytelling, which makes for
engaging, effusive characters. There is a sultriness to the climate, and most
Southerners are tied to the land. Family is important in the South and stories
are passed down. In the South, the past is never really past!

D.G. – You make it sound so intriguing! On my bucket list to get to some big author convention someday.

 

Claire is sharing one of the new reviews for Little Tea:

P. Woodland
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Tea
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2020

This might be the best book I’ve read so far this year. I don’t tend to read friendship type books like this but something about the synopsis called to me so I took a chance and I’m so glad I did. The book is not long at 252 pages but it packs in a lot of emotional storytelling. Three friends, Celia, Ava and Renny gather for a weekend at a lake house in Arkansas ostensibly to help Ava but this is Celia’s story. She is the daughter of the Old South, having grown up on “the farm” but what was a Plantation. Her best friend is a black girl called Little Tea, the daughter of a family that has been “working” for her family for generations. Obviously the arrangements for that work are vastly different in the 1980s than they were in the 1800s.

Not everyone in her immediate social circle agree with her family’s feelings about race relations, nor do the people in Little Tea’s world. When a family tragedy strikes it shows Celia exactly who her friends really are. She ends up leaving the South and moving to California where she finds a whole new life but can she really leave her Southern roots behind. This is a very powerful book about friendship, family, hate, bigotry and ultimately redemption. Ms. Fullerton is never flowery or excessive in her descriptions as one might expect given the topics but her writing is lyrical, spare and so on point you have a hard time putting the book down. I am only sorry that I started it in the evening and was having a bad day and simply could not keep my eyes open so I had to go to sleep. I finished it the following morning and the ending simply blew me away. I did not see it coming.

This is not to say that all of the characters were likable – indeed, some (I’m looking at you Ava) made me want to scream but this is human nature. No circle of friends is one note and if it were it would ring false. I will also note that I am left with questions but perhaps they are better left to my imagination for everything in life is not wrapped up in a neat little bow, is it?

I will be keeping this one for a reread down the road.

 

Little Tea

 

Little Tea Excerpt:

 

“Hey, Little Tea,” Hayward called as she and I sat crossed-legged on the north side of the verandah. “I bet I can beat you to the mailbox and back.” It was a Saturday afternoon in early June, and we’d spread the church section of the Como Panolian beneath us and positioned ourselves beneath one of the pair of box windows gracing either side of the front door. The front door was fully open, but its screen was latched to keep the bugs from funneling into the entrance hall. They’d be borne from the current of the verandah ceiling fans that stirred a humidity so pervasive and wilting, there was no escaping until the weather cooled in early November. The glass pitcher of sweet tea Elvita gave us sat opaque and sweating, reducing crescents of ice to weak bobbing smiles around a flaccid slice of lemon.

Little Tea stood to her full height at Hayward’s challenge, her hand on her hip, her oval eyes narrowed. “Go on with yourself,” she said to Hayward, which was Little Tea’s standard way of dismissal.

“I bet I can,” Hayward pressed, standing alongside Rufus, his two-year-old Redbone coonhound who shadowed him everywhere.

Little Tea took a mighty step forward. “And you best get that dog outta here ’fore he upends this here paint. Miss Shirley gone be pitching a fit you get paint on her verandah.”

“Then come race me,” Hayward persisted. “Rufus will follow me down the driveway. You just don’t want to race because I beat you the last time.”

“You beat me because you a cheat,” Little Tea snapped.

“She’s right, Hayward,” I said. “You took off first, I saw you.”

“It’s not my fault she’s slow on the trigger,” Hayward responded. “Little Tea hesitated, I just took the advantage.”

“I’ll be taking advantage now,” she stated, walking down the four brick steps to where Hayward and Rufus stood.

At ten years old, Little Tea was taller than me and almost as tall as Hayward. She had long, wire-thin limbs whose elegance belied their dependable strength, and a way of walking from an exaggerated lift of her knees that never disturbed her steady carriage. She was regal at every well-defined angle, with shoulders spanning twice the width of her tapered waist and a swan neck that pronounced her determined jaw.

Smiling, Hayward bounced on the balls of his feet, every inch of his lithe body coiled and ready to spring. There was no refusing Hayward’s smile, and he knew it. It was a thousand-watt pirate smile whose influence could create a domino effect through a crowd. I’d seen Hayward’s smile buckle the most resistant of moods; there was no turning away from its white-toothed, winsome source. When my brother smiled, he issued an invitation to the world to get the joke. Typically, the whole world would.

“Celia, run fetch us a stick,” Little Tea directed, her feet scratching on the gravel driveway as she marched to the dusty quarter-mile stretch from our house to the mailbox on Old Panola road. I sprang from the verandah to the grass on the other side of the driveway and broke a long, sturdy twig from an oak branch. “Set it right here,” Little Tea pointed, and I placed it horizontally before her. But Rufus rushed upon the stick and brought it straight to Hayward, who rubbed his russet head and praised, “Good boy.”

“Even that dog of yours a cheat,” Little Tea said, but she, too, rubbed his head then replaced the stick on the ground. “Now come stand behind here. Celia’s going to give us a fair shake. We’ll run when she says run.” Her hands went to her hips. “Now what you gonna give me when I win?” “The reward of pride and satisfaction,” Hayward said, and just then the screen door on the verandah flew wide and my brother John came sauntering out.

“On go,” I called from my position on the side of the driveway, where I hawkishly monitored the stick to catch a foot creeping forward. Looking from Hayward to Little Tea to make sure I had their attention, I used a steady cadence announcing, “Ready …set … go.”

Off the pair flew, dust scattering, arms flailing; off in airborne flight, side by side, until Little Tea broke loose and left Hayward paces behind. I could see their progression until the bend in the driveway obstructed my vision but had little doubt about what was happening. Little Tea was an anomaly in Como, Mississippi. She was the undisputed champion in our age group of the region’s track and field competition and was considered by everyone an athlete to watch, which is why Hayward continuously challenged her to practice. Presently, I saw the two walking toward me. Hayward had his arm around Little Tea’s shoulder, and I could see her head poised, listening as he chattered with vivid animation.

“You should have seen it,” Hayward breathlessly said when they reached me. “She beat me easily by three seconds—I looked at my watch.”

“Three seconds? That doesn’t seem like much,” I said.

“Listen Celia, a second is as good as a mile when you’re talking time. I’m two years older and a boy, so believe me, Little Tea’s already got the makings of a star athlete.” He grinned. “But we already knew this.”

John called from the verandah, “Celia, Mother’s looking for you.” I turned to see John walking to the front steps in his pressed khaki pants and leather loafers, his hand near his forehead shading his eyes.

“Where is she?” I returned.

“Inside, obviously. Last I saw her, she was in your room.”

For some odd reason, whenever my brother John had anything to say to me, he said it with condescension. His was a sneering, disapproving tone for no justification I could discern, beyond our six-year age difference. He was as hard on Hayward as he was on me, but Hayward never took John’s snide remarks personally, nor did he invest in what he called his holier-than- thou demeanor.

It didn’t take much to figure it out. From a young age, Hayward and I both knew he and John were two different kinds of men. Hayward once said to me, “John’s just a mama’s boy, which is why he calls Mom ‘Mother’ as if we’re living in Victorian England instead of Como, Mississippi. Don’t let him bother you. He has his own reality, that’s all.”

I skipped up the verandah’s steps and put my hand on the flimsy screen door.

“You should take that pitcher inside before you forget it,” John dictated, “and y’all need to pick up that paint.”

“I’ll get it in a minute,” I said, just to spite him as I stepped into the entrance hall. I couldn’t help it, it was my natural reflex in our ongoing contest of wills.

The light was always dim in the entrance hall, irrespective of the time of day. The carved crown molding on its high ceiling matched the dark walnut wood of the floor and door casings, which glowed in polished rosettes above the opening to the formal dining room on the right and the ample living room on the left, with the green-tiled solarium behind it. The entrance hall had a central catacomb feel and was always the coolest area of the house. In its cavernous elegance, footsteps were amplified on the maple floors during the months of June through September, then fell to a muted padding when Mom had Thelonious haul the crimson-and-navy runner from the attic and place it beneath the foyer’s round, centered table. At the end of the hall, behind the stairs, was my father’s den and attendant screened porch, but rarely did I visit the interior. My father was a private man, reclusive and solitary by nature, and whether he was in the library or not, the door was always shut. I had to skirt the gladiola arrangement on the entrance hall table. The floral design reached wide with flourishing arms toward the French credenzas against both sides of the walls. My reflection flashed in the ormolu mirror as I ran toward the stairs to find my mother. My hair crowned me with the color of night’s crescendo, dashing so dark it almost looked purple. I am 100 percent Wakefield in all that distinguishes the lineage, from the dark eyes and hair to the contrasting fair skin. There has never been a Wakefield to escape the familial nose; it is severe in impression, unambiguous in projection, straight as a line, and slightly flared. John and I are mirror images of each other, the yin and yang of the Wakefield, English bloodline. But Hayward was born golden, just like our mother, who comes from the Scottish Montgomerys, whose birthplace is Ayrshire. John and I possess an unfortunate atavistic Wakefield trait, though on me the black shadow is a ready silence, but on him it plays out as something sinister. John and I are individual variations of our father’s dark countenance, which is to say in our own way we are loners. People slightly removed. But Hayward got lucky, in possessing our mother’s shining essence. I could always see an internal light in their green eyes that set off their amber- colored hair.

I put my hand on the thick banister and climbed the stairs to the first landing, where my parents’ bedroom and living quarters unfurled like wings. The bay window overlooking the garden had its draperies drawn against the searing, silver sun. Walking into the sitting room at the right, I called for my mother, thinking she may be in the adjoining master bedroom. “I’m upstairs,” her voice descended. “Celia, come up. I want to see you.”

I mounted the stairs to the third-floor landing and found my mother perched lightly on the sofa in the alcove that served as a central area for the other four bedrooms. Behind her, sunlight filtered through the organza window treatments, highlighting the red in her hair. Her slender hands held a three-ringed binder of fabric swatches, the swatch on top a cool, blue toile. She patted the seat beside her and I settled softly. My mother was cultivated, circumspect, and radiated a porcelain femininity. Always, in my mother’s presence, I gentled myself to her calm self-possession. In my heart of hearts, it was my hope that the apple didn’t fall far from the proverbial tree.

“Tell me,” she said, “what do you think of this fabric for your draperies? We could paint the walls a light robin’s egg and put white on the molding. I think it’d be divine.” She looked around the room as if seeing it for the first time. “It’s time we got rid of the wallpaper in there. You’re growing up.” She laid her ivory hand on my cheek. “You’ll want this eventually. I think now’s a good time.”

I knew enough of my mother’s ways to know she was engaged in preamble. She was practiced at the art of delivery by discreet maneuver, and I suspected her impulse to transform my room had hidden meaning. “Why is now a good time?”

My mother looked in my eyes and spoke softly. “Celia, I’m telling you before I tell Hayward because I don’t want this to come from him. Your father’s going to be taking a job in Memphis, so we’ll be moving.”

“We’re moving to Memphis?” I gasped.

“Yes, honey. You’ll be starting school at Immaculate Conception in September,” she answered. “You know the school; its attendant to the big cathedral on Central Avenue.”

“But that’s a Catholic school, Mom. I thought we were Episcopalian.”

“We are, honey, but it’s highly rated academically. Your father and I think being exposed to a different religion will broaden your mind and give you beautiful advantages. We can come back here any weekend we want, and you’ll have a brand-new room when we do. You’ll have the best of both worlds, you’ll see. You’ll make new friends in Memphis, and Little Tea will still be here. It won’t be a drastic change at all. Try to think of it as an addition. There now, sweetie, don’t make that face. It isn’t the end of the world.”

But it was for me; Memphis intimidated me. Memphis was the big city compared to Como, and I found it cacophonous and unpredictable in its patchwork design. There was a disjointed, disharmonious feel to the city, what with its delineated racial relations. Parts of town were autocratic in their mainstay of Caucasian imperiousness and there were dilapidated, unlucky parts of town considered dangerous, which a white person never chanced. This much I’d learned on my visits to my grandparents’ house near the lake in Central Gardens. Blacks and whites never comingled in Memphis, even though they did coexist. But there was an impenetrable wall that separated the races, and I’d been raised in a footloose environment where it didn’t matter so much.

I took my teary eyes and sinking stomach to my bedroom so my mother wouldn’t see me cry. Through the window over the driveway, I watched as Hayward and Little Tea threw a stick for Rufus. I hadn’t the heart to run tell them our lives were about to end.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this generous excerpt and can’t wait to read this book. Sadly, the theme of racism is still alive and well today in our societies, which should keep this book always relevant. Thank you Claire. 

 

Follow Claire on her Social Links:

 

https://www.instagram.com/cffullerton/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton

https://clairefullertonauthor.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/clairefullertonauthor

https://www.clairefullerton.com

 

©DGKaye2020

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – Forming Healthy Relationships – What’s Inside the Box? | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Today I’m sharing my recent article I wrote for my Realms of Relationships Column over at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine. In this article I’m discussing how we often judge people by their appearances without looking in on the inside.

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – Forming Healthy Relationships – What’s Inside the Box?

 

Forming Healthy Relationships – What’s Inside the Box?

Welcome back to this month’s edition of Realms of Relationships. In this segment, I’m delving into how we judge and are judged by others – First impressions and Body language and discovering what’s underneath the wrapping.

 

friendships

 

As humans, we are often judged by our outward appearances first. But if we never gave someone a chance to approach us to potentially form a friendship or relationship just because we couldn’t see beyond appearance, our circles would be pretty limited.

People come wrapped in all assortments. Who and what we attract or gravitate to stems from the vibe we give off – this vibe consists of a combination of traits we emit with our words, body language, and our physical appearance. All these elements comprised will help to determine who chooses to approach us.

Our demeanors and physical appearance send signals to others leading them to form a perception of what we’re all about. But without learning what’s on the inside, and perhaps what’s perceived as a first impression, we may not always adequately represent who we really are. Depending on how we choose to present ourselves on a given day, we’ll undoubtedly be judged by our actions as first impressions, so it’s a good idea not to misrepresent ourselves. Sadly, society does label people based on appearance, and as much as appearances do play a part in determining who we approach and how we’re accepted, appearance alone is not a great indicator of what’s inside our box.

Now we all know the old saying – don’t judge a book by its cover, but sadly, it’s human nature that people are judged by their covers. Yes, it’s unfair, but there are shallow thinking people among us. And pity for those who judge because they may just be missing out on opportunity for a satisfying relationship or friendship because they couldn’t see beyond difference.

What do we want most from a relationship? Acceptance, love compassion, trust, understanding, communication and reciprocation. These are the most important qualities a relationship should offer, and the qualities that will sustain a solid relationship. These aren’t qualities you can necessarily decipher based on looking at an individual. Yes, it’s easy to make judgement, but until we learn about what’s behind the cover, we aren’t able to make a complete assessment.

We are hard-wired for judgement. We all have our own version of what’s acceptable to us and peeves we hold in our mental lists of what we seek out of a relationship. But maybe we need to look beyond those physical peeves and explore personality and values. . . Please continue reading at Sally’s Smorgasbord

 

©DGKaye2020

 

Source: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – Forming Healthy Relationships – What’s Inside the Box? | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine