My heartfelt thank you again to Sally Cronin for featuring my new release – Fifteen First Times, as a New Book on the Shelf at Sally’s Smorgasbord Bookshelves.
Delighted to share the news of the latest release by D.G. Kaye…. Debby Gies. A memoir – Fifteen First Times: Beginnings: A Collection of Indelible Firsts
About the memoir
This book is a collection of stories about some of Kaye’s first-time experiences with life’s most natural events. Told through the intimate conversational writing we’ve come to know from this author, poignant personal steppingstones to learning moments are revealed. She encompasses the heart of each matter with sincerity and sprinkled inflections of humor.
From first kiss to first car to walking in the desert with four-inch heels, Kaye’s short coming-of-age stories take us through her awakenings and important moments of growth, often without warning. Some good and some not, life lessons are learned through trial and error, winging it and navigating by the seat of her pants.
D.G. Kaye writes with heartfelt regard and unabashed honesty. The life experiences she shares in Fifteen First Times evoke tears as well as laughter. Kaye’s candor and compassion will no doubt appeal to and help many seeking to grow and come into their own. I highly recommend this book and all others by this forthright author. The reader will be left with an ardent desire for more. ~ Author, Tina Frisco
Thoughts by D.G. Kaye
Do you ever think back on past events which have left an indelible impression on you or your life, or find that the incidents you’ve endured through life have helped shape the person you’ve become? Are your formed perceptions and values developed from experience, and have they consequently become incorporated into your daily life? Our experiences are steppingstones for much of what feeds our character. We live, we experience, we learn, we become, and we overcome.
Nobody sent me the memo on life, and most of the time, I had zero confidence to broach the subject of my conflictions and situations with anyone. All these events I experienced and share in my stories happened with little to no guidance or knowledge, making much of my young life experiences processes of trial and error. I was like the proverbial child who grew up in the wild, except I had parents and a comfortable home.
In these fifteen short stories, I’m fessing up to some firsts in my life, some of which turned out to serve as monumental lessons. These weren’t life-altering moments, but rather, moments of teaching to move my life forward, leaving me with scars and awakening moments, confirming my curiosities, and leading me in new directions of growth.
“Fifteen First Times” is a group of personal stories told in a humorous yet perceptive manner. It felt like I was sitting with Ms. Kaye having a cup of tea while she shared some of her life stories. I found it easy to relate to a first kiss, first heartbreak, or first-time driving. It got me reflecting on many of my firsts and how I navigated life after. The author’s strength, fashion sense, and humor shined through the words, painting a picture of her moments. This is a book of youthful reflections and what we can learn from all our firsts. There was also a loving dedication to her departed husband that touched my soul. This is a beautiful collection of coming-of-age stories I can easily recommend.
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Book 3 in Frank Prem’s Love Poetry Trilogy – Rescue and Redemption. This book was inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, where once again, Prem takes us on a journey of words and emotions by taking lines from the poem and incorporating into his own poetry.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells . . .
from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Drawing on the phrasing of T.S. Eliot’s amazing early 20th century poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (above) Frank Prem has produced a collection of companionable and introspective love poetry written, as always, in the unique style that allows every reader to relate.
Prem’s interpretations breathe new life into contemporary exploration of themes of love in poetry, and utilise Eliot’s original phrases to inspire a contemplation of the self in the context of landscape and the wider world:
I am seeking you
within the hubbub
and the burly
trying to gauge
by the strength
of your voice
even as you rise
from rescue and redemption
rescue and redemption is the third of the three collections that together comprise A Love Poetry Trilogy, with each revisiting outstanding work by stellar poets of the past to produce vibrant new collections. The first collection, walk away silver heart, draws on Amy Lowell’s deeply personal Madonna of the Evening Flowers, while the second, a kiss for the worthy, derives from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
This is a new kind of poetry that tells stories, draws pictures and elicits emotional responses from readers. Just as the best poetry should.
My 5 Star Review:
Once again Prem has managed to create a beautiful collaboration of poetry by taking from the Prufrock poem by T.S. Eliot and converting lines into Prem’s newly adapated poetry in his 3rd book to this beautiful trilogy – Rescue and Redemption.
Prem evokes both the beauty and sometimes pain of love reflected from the original poem, and brings us into his own interpretations converted from the original, expressing deep thought and meaning, love, loss, elation and more. I would state the author’s poetry style as minimalistic in words, but deep on contemplation, using the epigraph at the beginning, serving the role for the Requiem.
A few of my favorites were: You and Me (at three O’clock), and Novel Advice ( my darlings) which will resonate with most writers:
“There will be
time to murder
for one and all
to kill your darlings
but . . .
all in time
you can take it
build them up
all your heart
make them ring clearly
make of them
the pumping heart
that reveals the story
with each beat
take your time
what you want
and then . . .
commit a little mayhem
let chaos rule
the way you guide
and no need to explain
why did you
why not keep them
were they not
we all feel
with our darlings
what will happen
in the chapter
that you write
If you enjoy variations on different poetry styles and words that stir and move you, you will enjoy this entire trilogy!
Introducing author Marian Beaman with her long awaited book launch of her memoir – Mennonite Daughter – The Story of a Plain Girl, today for my Sunday Book Review.
As a nonfiction writer, I naturally gravitate to same genre reading. I’m always eager to discover new and fascinating truths about life lessons and triumphs over life’s adversities and tribulations- especially when the author is someone I know. In today’s feature, Mennonite Daughter is the story of a girl growing up as a plain Mennonite girl, living inside the body of a girl who yearns to be fancy.
Marian has just launched her book and already buzzing around on book tours. You can read a bit about her below and I look forward to having Marian over for my new interview series next month!
About the author:
Marian Longenecker Beaman is a former professor at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. Her memoir, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl, records the charms and challenges of Mennonite girlhood in mid-twentieth century Pennsylvania. The writer’s formative years coincided with the decade before which the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church experienced major change, especially regarding dress code for women.
Such is the backdrop for the story of one Mennonite girl who benefited from a sheltered life with boundaries, but who bucked church tradition along with coming to terms with an adversarial relationship with her father. She shares her story to preserve these memories and to leave a legacy for future generations.
One of Marian’s stories “Gutsy in Ukraine” was published in My Gutsy Story Anthology by Sonia Marsh, September 2014. Another story Making Love Edible, appeared in the Food and Faith issue of The Mennonite, September 2016. The Jacksonville Arts and Antiques magazine published a patient profile in the fall 2018 issue. Her memoir will be featured in the National Association of Memoir Writers’ Virtual Book Club, 2020.
The author writes weekly on her Plain and Fancy blog: https://marianbeaman.com. She lives with her husband Cliff in Florida, where her grown children and grandchildren also reside.
What if the Mennonite life young Marian Longenecker chafed against offered the chance for a new beginning? What if her two Lancaster County homes with three generations of family were the perfect launch pad for a brighter future? Readers who long for a simpler life can smell the aroma of saffron-infused potpie in Grandma’s kitchen, hear the strains of four-part a capella music at church, and see the miracle of a divine healing.
Follow the author in pigtails as a child and later with a prayer cap, bucking a heavy-handed father and challenging church rules. Feel the terror of being locked behind a cellar door. Observe the horror of feeling defenseless before a conclave of bishops, an event propelling her into a different world.
Fans of coming-of-age stories will delight in one woman’s surprising path toward self-discovery, a self that lets her revel in shiny red shoes.
My 5 Star Review:
Mennonite Daughter is a beautifully written story about the growing up life and aspirations of one feisty and longing-to-be fancy girl who although practicing her faith obediently, longs to be free from some of the conforms of the Mennonite lifestyle.
Beaman, a girl, not unlike any other girlie girl, striving for her chance at a life free from head coverings and traditional clothing, as her desires since childhood grow to break free from tradition. We learn a lot about the Mennonite way of life, Beaman’s life, the close knit family and community life, and the antiquated punishments inflicted on her by her father, and about the mother who never interjected on those punishments, all because she spoke out for her convictions. The whippings and being locked in a dark, scary basement were the weapons of choice as punishments and discipline for her non-compliance in a world of which we’d now consider as child abuse. One heart trembling sentence that stood out to me, “I always watched for signs that Daddy was about to explode, so I wonder why I didn’t stop before I ignite the fire.” We’ll learn once again, as many writers like myself have lived and wrote about, if we search for the ‘why’ in someone’s behavior, we’ll almost always find the root cause.
The heartaches in this book are palpable through the pages for this straight A student who received no recognition or validation from her parents; and the welcomed tender mercies she did receive from her dear Aunt Ruthie and her paternal grandmother Longenecker. It seemed any moments the little girl felt excitement for were often quashed by disappointment. One example of this was in the chapter – ‘Tomato Girl gets a Bike’ – Young Mennonite Marian helped work the tomato farms tirelessly, both planting and reaping the fruits of labor. She received 10 cents a basket for her labor from her frugal father, and as reward for her upcoming birthday he promised he would buy her a bike. She held her excitement in anticipation until she felt as though she wasn’t worthy enough when her father eventually presented her with a well worn bike instead.
The author takes us through her life with a giant glimpse into the Mennonite world, sharing the religion, her beliefs, chores, and family gatherings – even photos and recipes are included, to demonstrate her world of godliness and her struggle to endure conformity, hoping that some day she will get to wear those red shoes! I loved this book! #Recommended.
Welcome to my Sunday -normally a book review, but today a concert review. It’s been quite awhile since I went to a concert, but my cousin bought us tickets a few months ago for my recent June birthday to go see Carlos Santana on his 2019 tour stop in Toronto at the outdoor Budweiser stadium in downtown Toronto. The opening band was The Doobie Brothers! What a blast from the past!
This was the second time I’ve seen Santana in concert – the first time I saw him at our once famed Maple Leaf Gardens which was our main venue for concerts (and hockey of course!) back in the day over 30 years ago. And I can say with certainty that Carlos still holds the magic in his musical fingers because he could still make that guitar sing till it gave me goosebumps.
I was doubly excited to listen to both The Doobie Brothers and Carlos Santana. Sure, I know many of the best musicians from my day are still touring around the world, even though some are now past their sell by date, but it appears that a full 16,000 capacity stadium didn’t let the decades past deter them or me from revisiting a nostalgic part of our past.
We first had to join one of the excruciatingly long lineups just to get in the grounds for security checks where we were body searched and bag searched. As much as I know of what this world has become, and there was none of this back in my days of concert going, it made me sad as I stood waiting my turn to enter as I remembered a time when we never gave a thought to guns and crime. I looked around at the crowd from boomers to aged seniors wanting to experience that musical experience once again that belonged to our youth. And I felt how much the world has changed since then. This concert was a welcomed step back in time, if only for a few hours.
The weather called for rain that evening, and it had rained on and off throughout the day. I packed an umbrella and plastic pouched raincoat to prepare for listening in the rain with no cover in the open air stadium. The tickets stated ‘rain or shine’ so there were no refunds. But the weather warnings didn’t seem to deter anyone. There was of course, no smoking – cigarettes or pot allowed in the stadium, which made me laugh as I thought about my old concert days long ago when marijuana was still considered illegal but there were plenty of dubes being smoked in the Gardens despite the law, with barely any consequence – it was expected – it was a concert after all! But if you stepped outside the Budweiser stadium there were designated smoking areas, which of course included marijuana smoking because it’s now legal in Canada. But even though it’s legal here, pot smokers still have to abide by cigarette smoker’s designated area laws.
I did have a chuckle at the ‘yellow shirts’ who were the concert security and couldn’t help but wonder about their training and how effective they could be should anything scary were to happen. I don’t think one of them were over the age of 18, and no threat to anyone. But I was happy to see a nice police presence because after all, sadly, nowhere is safe anymore.
I was happy I’d picked us up a couple of submarine sandwiches (mine gluten-free) for the long ride downtown to the concert as I knew we had no time to stop and eat, and I don’t like to take a gamble on finding anything decent to eat down there. That turned out to be a great idea after watching many grab themselves what looked like soggy reheated food when bringing it to their seats. And the prices were like being robbed! Truly, a can of beer cost $16.50!! Even if I liked beer, they’d never get that kind of ridiculous coin from me. I brought us water and snacks so we were self sufficient.
At 7:15 the Doobie Brothers began their musical appearance. Our seats were not center stage and 3 sections back from the stage, but far from being called nosebleeds. We were strategically located for a quick exit, our seats were last row in our section with our seats in the middle of 2 aisles, which kind of felt like scoring the bonus seats on an airplane with no seats in front of us, but the people traffic up and down was annoying. We could hear perfectly and the 3 big screens gave us the closeups to watch the musicians make magic with their instruments. I have to be honest and say that their sound system didn’t get corrected till halfway through the session, and with only 3 of the original members in the band left, I did not get that ‘Doobie Brother’ feeling, leaving me feeling a sad loss for the good old days. It felt very ‘meh’ to me, after feeling the anticipated excitement of seeing them. And in case you’re wondering where they got their name from, it appears that while the band was still struggling to breakout, one of the member’s roommates at the time offered up the name to them because they smoked so many dubes, lol. Here’s a clip from their encore swan song – Blackwater.
We made our way outside for a break in between bands and alas the rain started pitter-pattering. I whipped out my umbrella as I looked at the grey threatening sky. Before I could fully open it, the drops stopped, and we were lucky a downpour never happened. We passed a merchandise booth and just beat a lineup and purchased our token Santana Tshirts for souvenirs and headed back to our seats.
Enter Carlos Santana, or should I say the sound of his singing guitar entered before the lights shone on the stage. I was transported back to the 80s with the rich sounds of Santana and his band. Although most of his original members are still part of his band, and they were damned good, it wouldn’t have mattered if there were new vocalists or not, as long as Carlos led with his magical music. As it turns out, his newer wife of the past 9 years is his drummer, and that girl can beat out on a drum, as you can hear in this clip of a solo session from her. Cindy (Blackwell) Santana drum solo.
I enjoyed the feeling of joy and happiness which seemed to emanate through the stadium as everyone probably revisited their own personal memories. In the old days we’d flick our lighters on for certain songs. Now it was flashlights turned on people’s phones as we waved them in the air to the rhythm of the music. It was just a beautiful thing. Carlos made a little speech about how he loves the warmth of Canadians who welcome him, and specifically to my city. It left me with a warm and fuzzy, patriotic feeling. Black Magic Woman video below, despite it marked ‘Europa’ because MERCURY gave me so much grief putting the videos together.
It was difficult to remain seated with all that hot Latin music playing, as most of the crowd remained on their feet dancing in their spots. The music took me back to some of my happiest days of my 20s, conjuring up memories of parties, nightclubs and a few sexy men I wondered about what had come of them. He played all my favorites, and I managed to video a few, particularly, Europa, which happens to be my favorite of favorites. It’s all about that long note played that makes the guitar sing at the verse change (located at 1 min and 48 seconds into the vid). I have a clip (with maybe a bit of commentation in the background from me) below.
I’ll share a another clip from the classics. Unfortunately, I wasn’t close enough to the stage to get primo pictures, and did try to aim my phone’s camera to the big screen to get some closeups of Carlos strumming his machine, but at least you can listen. And after all, it’s all about the songs, the mood they create, and the transporting us back to wonderful memories.
Something a little different for me here, reviewing a play – Jersey Boys, instead of a book.
Last Saturday, my husband and I went to a play together – something we’ve never done together. I love going to plays and musicals, and those events are usually reserved for girlfriend time. My hub is much happier watching sports.
My husband’s brother called us when we returned from our holiday to say hello, but he also express great enthusiasm for a play his children bought him tickets to go see – the Jersey Boys. His kids knew he would love it because of the era of music, and he surely did. He loved it so much he wanted his brother to go see the musical with me and sent us a pair of tickets! He urged me to pull up some videos of the play on Youtube to show my hub clips of the music. I knew my hub would be curious to go and could almost rest assured that he wouldn’t fall asleep while watching – the reason we don’t normally go to plays together, lol.
We took the subway down and walked half a block to the theater. It turned out to be a freezing cold windy and snowy day as a prank reminder that Mother Nature was not yet done with winter in our city. I was thrilled to actually be going with my husband despite that era of music which is not my most favorite genre, and boy, did I get a surprise.
We arrived in our seats approximately 20 minutes before the show began. While waiting I was surveying the layout of the theater and thought to myself how expensive the seats are considering the width of the seats felt tighter than an airplane, there were no cup holders for expensive drinks, and I took notice that every 2 rows were raised a tiny bit higher than the previous rows to aid in viewing But I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see because the increments in raised levels was unremarkable.
Sure enough, the giraffe and the tall lady with the humongous hair sat right in front of me. ‘Nuff said.
The show was fabulous! There were some terrific talent in that cast – both singing and acting. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Frankie Valli’s life leading to the formation of the group, the Four Seasons and beyond. The story was a well written mini biography of the persistence of Valli to keep his band together despite the many pitfalls they endured, the original members’ backgrounds, friendships, relationships, and how the lyrics for their songs came to be. This band along with so many who strive to make it in the music world, took a lot of lumps along their way to stardom, and the many pitfalls of fame when it comes too fast.
The artists’ struggle took me back to the days when I too was a struggling singer with aspirations of ‘making it’, and in those days, the music industry wasn’t big in Toronto. Like the old adage reminds – it’s not how good you are, but who you know. I didn’t know the right people, and often one hopeful meeting led to another when ultimately, I was faced with some shady characters. That’s when I gave up pursuing my dream, but Valli endured toward his own.
The music was fabulous, but as a writer, I’m always drawn to story line. and I thought the show had some great writing for the story to be told through music and words. As we continued to watch, clap along, and sing in our chairs, I scanned the room in preparation for intermission – when I planned to move so I could actually see the play without crooking my neck. We crossed over to an empty row one section over and the second half of the play was much more enjoyable.
I loved the way the scenes were set up into seasons: Spring was the beginning of the group, summer were their heydays. fall was the beginning of problems surfacing, personally and monetarily, and winter was the calm – the breaking up of the original group and Valli making it on his own with a new band. Courage, persistence, and luck brought Valli to fame at a young age. And despite finally reaching fame, as is common with young artists, nobody was really minding the shop – the business side of being a performer, just like the marketing and self-publishing a writer must add to their repertoire. Four guys started a band, worked for peanuts, slept in dives. did menial side jobs on the side to survive the lean times. One was a tough guy-mobster wannabe, but he made all the gig connections and brought the group to fame. There were relationship problems at their homefronts and behind the stage, and they all had their demons. It reminded how much artists struggle to reach that pinnacle of fame. The show was an entertaining inside look into the making of a musical legend and the pitfalls and highlights along the way. I’m so glad we went.
We rode the subway home. I couldn’t get over how crowded the trains were at 5pm on a Saturday, reminding me just how crowded our city is, not just on the roads. We stepped into the train and hung on to the hand strap, squashed in a crowd. Three stops later, a woman stood up to leave and I held her seat for my husband. An Asian woman sitting beside him was preoccupied on her mobile phone but took a moment to look up at me and did a hand signal language,. asking if I’d like her seat. She didn’t look much younger than I am and I couldn’t decide in that moment if I was flattered she’d offered or if I looked old enough for her to feel I needed the seat.. But maybe I think too much. I was grateful to learn that there were still courteous people around either way. I smiled in appreciation, and signaled to her I was fine.
It was a good day.
I found this clip of the British cast with a segment of the play on Youtube: