Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Book of Strange New Things by by Michel Faber

I'm having a hard time thinking of how to start this review. Michel Faber's words and story absorbed me, both with a gentleness and an opportunity for contemplation not found in many books, particularly those with a science fiction element. The basic story, in very simplistic terms is that of Peter, a Christian minister, who leaves his wife back on Earth, and becomes part of the away team on a distant planet. The husband/wife relationship plays out through his memories and their correspondence while he is away. As he begins to build his relationship with the native inhabitants, his world back home is undergoing natural, economic, and political disasters. There is much to overcome on the planet, too, but of a different nature. The very belief system and basics of life for the native people is pretty much unknown to the colonists. Peter must overcome some misunderstandings, and the anthropocentric view among some members of his team and build a working relationship with the shy and gentle beings who have asked for a minister of Christ to come teach them. I liked the way the story unfolded, and why this alien population was so keen for ministry.  I wasn't sure what direction Faber would take it  (the story "To Serve Man" kept coming to mind, but I willingly read on to find out. I also was intrigued by the marital relationship and the long distance relationship, and how Peter responded to the tensions that were building there. There were also some touches I appreciated, such as Peter's efforts to overcome the difficulty of some sounds in the English language for his flock. A book of strange new things, indeed.

All in all, I thought the writing was excellent and the story interesting.

Many thanks to Blogging for Books and to the publisher, for my copy of this book.

tags:blogging-for-booksi-liked-itmade-me-thinkreadread-for-reviewread-in-2015science-fictionthought-provoking

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Well-written, unsettling, curiously strange novel.  The first part of the book left me slightly mystified, feeling that the intent was to scare off readers who might be faint of heart. As the story grew, and approached a somewhat more human scale, I felt more able to engage in it. I kept thinking that the gods of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology have gotten whitewashed in our modern day thinking, that there is, in reality, a lot of violent action and deed in those stories, which were similar to the actions, in this book, of Father and of the librarians. It was the more human aspects of the story that drew me in, though, the stories of Steve, of Erwin. The happenings of Carolyn, of David, and the rest of the librarians, and even the library itself, felt oddly distant.  Not what I expected from the cover blurb.


Many thanks to LibraryThing's early reviewer program and to the publisher, for my copy of this book.


Tags: advanced-reader-copy, early-review-librarything, first-novel-or-book, great-title, has-an-ick-factor, made-me-think, read, read-in-2015, still-trying-to-figure-this-one-out, thought-i-was-gonna-like

Home again

We've been away. It was hard to leave Charleston in the aftermath of the evil that visited out town. We were here for the first days, but had commitments that drew us out of town, to our home away from home in the mountains of Georgia. As we travelled, we saw how the state, the country , the world, responded to the brutal slaying of those nine beautiful souls at Mother Emanuel. I watched my city from afar, the love I carry for it only growing in the aftermath, love over hate visibly a way of life, a calling.

"We shall overcome", a song I sang in my childhood in the Washington DC area, during the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, was once again on my lips. I thought a lot about the path that movement has taken over the course of my life, and how grateful I was to be a part of a peaceful response to a heinous violence, a crime of racial hatred. This was the path my parents had taught me, the belief with which I was raised. To see it put into action, by thousands of Charlestonians around me, hand in hand, building a bridge to unity; flooding prayer services; standing vigil at Marion Square and Mother Emanuel AME Church; protecting against agitators "from off" bent on stirring violence; coming together to honor the slain, to send them off surrounded by love... it has been truly awe-inspiring. I hope those nine souls know that their deaths have had such a profound impact on so many, that they have set a course for healing a wrong that goes farther back than any of us alive now.

We drove home yesterday, across the state. There were flags lowered to half mast, and signs on churches, storefronts, and Main Streets saying "Pray for Charleston" and "Stand with Charleston". As we got to North Charleston, there were billboards on the highway proclaiming "Charleston Strong", but none was so sweet at the one on my own corner. I am home, where love is stronger than hate.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Darkness toward Light


My town is grieving. But, we are grieving together, trying to see past senseless slaughter. As our mayor said, "We're going to have to love ourselves out of this." And we will.

I cannot begin to imagine motive or thoughts in the gunman's head. That it was hatred is pretty obvious. I've heard all sorts of speculation: to create a racial division, instill fear, and even heard a news commentator suggest it was based on religious grounds, persecuting Christians. But what I saw in front of me, everywhere I went yesterday was Charlestonians pulling together, comforting each other. We prayed together, sang together, grieved together. We looked to ways to comfort the families of the victims and help Mother Emanuel AME Church. We remembered the lost, those nine marvelous souls. We were not strangers to each other. We did not fear. We did not hate. We loved.

The gunman failed. We are not divided. We are united. We are Charleston. We will get through this, though not over this. We are Charleston.

After the darkness, there is dawn. We are moving toward the light.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Darkness comes to Charleston

I am stunned. There are no words that can describe the true horror of man's inhumanity to man. I think that over and over when I hear news of war and strife. But to have it at my doorstep, a mere mile and a half from our home is truly chilling. 

My heart weeps for the people senselessly gunned down in last night's shooting, for their families and friends, and for our community. It is horrible. To put the word terrible before tragedy is an oxymoron, but that's what this is. We know people who attend Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church; they are neighbors, friends, even just the smiling face we see when walking up Calhoun St to the library. They are God-loving people and these nine were just seeking fellowship and a chance to enrich their spiritual life. They were not looking for, or expecting to find, the bullet with their name on it. I hope they did not suffer greatly, but passed quickly into the arms of the God they loved -- safe in the arms of Jesus.

We often laugh that South Carolina can tend to seem like the butt of a lot of jokes:  our walk-about governor, Miss SC Teen USA's rambling discourse on maps, the guy who was hit in the head with a chair for belching at Taco Bell. But we have good stuff, and good people, here too. One native son recently just gave 800,000 to fund every single classroom project in SC. (And yes, Stephen Colbert is a Charleston native.) We've got other beautiful people, too, living in this beautiful place. So when something horrific happens, the contrast is even worse. But the response, the way people reach out, is beautiful.

While I was listening to the news, trying to absorb it all, praying for all impacted by this tragedy, I couldn't sit still.  I picked up my pen, and combined the Pysanky symbols of protection, safety, the Trinity, and strength with images of my Lowcountry, and representations for each of the nine victims. The hashtag #charlestonstrong covers it well. We will get through this, maybe not over it, ever, but we will overcome, once again. And in that growth, that wretched scar on our society, we will stay strong as a community with heart, that cares for each other.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to a community prayer service with my neighbors and fellow Charlestonians.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Low Country Love Letter

Dear Lowcountry,

I came to you determined not to love you, those many years ago. I accompanied my parents on a visit to Charleston, where my father was a candidate for a prestigious position at the Medical University. They were wined, they were dined; I was thrown collectively to the wolves known as the children of the faculty entertaining my parents. At least, that's how I saw it. I was the girl from off, (and from a northern "off" at that), injected into the adolescent South of Broad social scene at the insistence of parents.  Sitting on the side piazza, the balmy night air was a far cry from the air back home, frigid with the coming of winter. I don't know whether it was the cadence of the talk around me, or the scents of unfamiliar blossoms and sea tinged air that recalled joyful vacation days, but my heart softened. As the gathering shifted to another home, I got a guided tour of a small corner of the city. The cobbled stones of Church Street and the little beach revealed by the Ashley River at low tide enchanted me, though I confess, I don't recall the name of the boy that walked with me. When we flew back to winter and my old life, the scents and sights of Charleston clung to me, and have never let go.

It was here I learned to lure a crab from the creek behind our home into the cooking pot, to cast a shrimp net, marvel at the moods of the wetlands that embrace the coast. Here, I learned that a palmetto is a thing of pride, and definitely not a palm tree; how to tell a white heron from an snowy egret, and what a joggling board is. I became a girl of the beaches: Folly, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms: each had a separate joy and beauty. I memorized which house along Murray Blvd you pointed the bow of a boat toward if you were crossing the Ashley by water from James Island to the peninsula. I learned that pluff mud can get on your clothes, between your toes, and its distinct smell in your nose, but also in your soul. I lingered in Shell House at Ashley Hall, with my friends, girls who became women I still delight in being with and cherish as friends.

I left you, Lowcountry, for my studies at several universities and to travel the world, but when I decided to find a spot to call home as a young adult, out on my own, it was Charleston that again called me. I was welcomed back; the fathers of friends I knew in high school were now the physicians I worked with as I embarked on my nursing career. Their generosity giving supplies, medicines, and money to a small medical clinic in rural India where I spent a summer as a volunteer still warms my heart. And when I came back from that trip, and met the man of my dreams, I remember how several of these same physicians insisted on vetting him, since my own daddy had passed on.

Charleston was the city of our courtship and though I left you again to gather a graduate degree, we came back here to raise our family. Charleston embraced the return, and adopted daughter and the man from off, that she loved. We introduced our son to the beauties of Lowcountry living. His eyes would light up in wonder at the glory of the ACE basin from canoe, or the mysteries of Four Hole Swamp. Together, we would watch from the porch as thunderheads rolled across the sky, "better even than television", he once declared, and he was right. Our home in the historic district was our haven, a multigenerational family, for my mother came to live with us, and my siblings would tumble in for extended visits.

It was here that I found my stride as a pediatric clinical nurse specialist. When I developed an illness that nearly killed me, and forced me to give up my practice, it was in the arms of the Lowcountry, amidst the live oaks and wildlife, that I was able to find a balance.  Now in a stable health state, and able to be more active, I've tried to give back in the ways I can. My love of books and reading has lead me to volunteerism at school libraries, at Charleston Country Public Library, Charleston Library Society, Trident Literacy Association, and spreading free books via BookCrossing. I like to "live local" supporting the craftsmen and women of the Lowcountry. I've learned the names of the farmers whose bounty fills our bellies and the artists and artisans whose works grace our home, the coffee roasters and chefs whose establishments are the spots I take visitors to for refreshment. I have my favorite spots to show off on a tour of the city, some of which, like the Unitarian Church graveyard, I recently learned that our son, living now on the other coast, recommends to people he knows who visit Charleston. (Second generation pride makes me smile.) Here, my heart dances and my soul sings, each to many different tunes and melodies, as different as a sassy salsa to a Mozart motet. As I move into another phase of life, as an artist, I even know the names of the hens whose eggs I use to create pysanky (Ukrainian style eggs).

Ah Lowcountry, thank you.  Our romance has lasted nearly 45 years, and will go on until my last breath. You may not be the land of my birth, but you are the land of my heart.


After "Life After Life"

Me: So that interview this morning  on the radio, was with Kate Atkinson. She wrote that book we tried to listen to on audio last time we drove to the mountains.

(Pause, as we both recall the delighted anticipation with which we approached the book, and how we ended up ditching it for something else.)

He: Really? It sounded so interesting. Was she talking about that book?

Me: That, and the following one that has one of the same characters.

He: Let's not get it for the next road trip.

Me: I still can't figure out why we didn't like it. Thought it would be great.

He: Maybe some books are just meant to be read, not listened to.

Me: Yeah, either that or the voice actor just sucked the life out of the story.

He: Maybe some people should find a new career.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Joys of Friendship

Piccolo Spoleto 2015 pop up art event by Odeith
So, you know when a friend asks you to write something, and you ponder over it, thinking of the thousands of things you want to say, then cull it down to a select few, write it, send it off, and forget about it? It's a really nice feeling, right? To write about something you love, and share it.

I just want to tell you that it's really cool, too, to come online one day and find your words
 out there for others to read.

And, if you want to read my Lowcountry Love letter, visit the Lowcountry Love Letters blog of Emily Elizabeth Gildea and Angela Burney Wicke,  a fabulous new duo hitting the Charleston real estate world.

(I'll post the full content  of my letter here in a day or so, but think you should check these gals and their blog out. Or, simply read it here.)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Good karma can be yours

Memorial day, my friends Kiley and Jeff came home to find that Percy,  their beautiful Maine Coon cat, had been horribly injured. Kiley tells me that the injury is so severe that the vet can't even determine what exactly caused it: car, coyote, or something else cataclysmic. A signed, special edition of Mooncat is being offered to help offset the medical costs incurred by this family. $20 of each print sold will go directly to help in Percy's care. For more information, visit  Percy's Surgery and Recovery Fund at gofundme.com. To get your very own signed Moon Cat print, visit czukart.com.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rutheli Redux

For those who read my earlier post, Rutheli, about the wartime wedding of my parents, I found this picture from a scrap book of the second wedding, June 13, 1943. The reception took place at The Commodore, "New York's Best Located Hotel" on 42nd St.
You two created a family filled with love. You're gone, but your memory still brings joy. L'chiam!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

I really wanted to like this a whole lot more than I did. It had things that I enjoy in a book: history, alternating storylines. It took place in one of my favorite areas of the world. (I fell in love with the area around Harper's Ferry back in the 1970's when my friends and I would use our weekends off to go exploring.) But it just didn't grab me. Maybe my expectations were too high. I found the modern day storyline sort of forced, the main character whiney, and the piecing together of story arcs forced. Even when she got a focus and wanted to start selling dog biscuits, it was too little, too late, for me. The story involving John Brown's daughter just didn't engage me. While there were some elements that expanded my knowledge on the subject, I found myself being put off by silly things-- abundant use of exclamation points in transcriptions of personal correspondence of Sarah Brown, the use of the initials UGRR in conversations. (Side note: I've heard “tracks” or "Freedom Trails" (the routes slaves travelled when they fled); “stations” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “station masters” (folks who hid the runaways in their homes). And it was through The Drinking Gourd (a wonderful book that describes how slaves used the the Big Dipper constellation and its north star, in their flight for freedom) that I introduced  my children to the Underground Railroad. But to have characters of the time period call it the UGRR struck me as modern and intrusive.

I'm dreadfully sorry, to the author and to the publisher, that I can't give this book a three star rating. I could go as high as 2.5/5. I know I'm in the minority, so if you're thinking of reading this book, rest assured there are far more reviewers who read it and liked it. Thank you to Blogging for Books and the publisher for sending this to me. Thank you to Blogging for Books and the publisher for sending this to me. Had you not sent it, and I just picked it up elsewhere, I would have set it down uncompleted. As it was, I now have a dog biscuit recipe to share with my friends who are doggy parents, should they wish.

Tags:blogging-for-booksgive-me-my-time-backplaces-i-have-beenreadread-for-reviewread-in-2015taught-me-something

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Trespassers by Todd and Tim Wynn

One of the authors of this book contacted me, offering a copy of the book for review. Though I usually decline the kind offers of self published authors, two things compelled me to say yes to the Wynn brothers. The first was that the cover blurb said "When four alien visitors arrive on Earth and disappear into the cornfields of Indiana, it is Stewart Faulkner's job to find them." I've been to Indiana, so this scenario seemed entirely plausible. The second was that during our exchange of emails, it became apparent that the authors had not just selected folks with a lot of books listed on their accounts at goodreads or librarything, but actually taken the time, at least in my case, to read my blog. So, I agreed to read Trespassers.


The Brothers Wynn are screenwriters, which became more and more apparent as I read along. They've got a good cast of characters, and a strong plot, that in my opinion, with some refining/editing/smoothing of pace  (i.e. less screen direction/explanation, "more show; less tell" is the phrase I've heard editor types use when I've heard talks at various venues) could really improve. Or, going another direction, I could see this spinning out to a film or television series, sort of "Men in Black" but more on a regular day-to-day rather than "save the world from imminent destruction" basis. (Side note: That's what I like about a series like Daredevil vs Avengers. It gets tiresome if the world's always about to end. Keep one patch of earth safe, with good human/alien relationships.I'm happy with that.)

I liked the emphasis that the aliens in this particular case were humans, just not from Earth. I also liked that all but one of the characters (and that one was Jin, one of my favorites in the book) could blend in without disguises with the locals. I really liked the name of the agency Faulkner worked for, as well as some of the personal thoughts several/experiences several of the characters had about life and love. Some of those felt as if they might have come from life experience, and had an authentic ring to them. Though I'd pretty much anticipated a large plot reveal, there was one I expected to happen that didn't, which was good, because when a plot twist was unveiled near the end of the book, it took me unaware. It also resolved some ambiguity I'd been feeling about a particular character and his actual purpose in the whole book. There were a number of times in the book that things seemed more like stage direction, which would be great if this was a script, but inhibited the flow of the story for me. I imagine that if the Brothers Wynn were telling this story or reading it out loud, it might not have been as obtrusive for me. (But then again, I'm the kind of reader who gets annoyed by out of time-period vocabulary and punctuation used in novels. It's a quirk and a burden.)

All in all, I kept reading and am glad I did. There are elements of the story that keep coming back to mind--a good sign.  I am refraining from giving a star rating, because I sincerely hope that this version will be revised and come back even stronger and cleaner, which I can rate higher. This book is an B.R.A.G medal honoree.

To the authors: Thank you very much for sharing the book with me. I want to add that I really loved the short stories on your website.
Tags: awardwinnercorresponded-with-authorfirst-novel-or-bookreadread-for-reviewread-in-2015science-fiction

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I get by with a little help from my friends

I've hurt my arm. The details are unimportant, and yes, it's healing. What is significant (for me, at least) is that it is my right arm, the lead hand in all my artwork. Typing can be done one-handed. No one takes off points for wiggly lines. Autocorrect can actually be helpful in fixing some errors (though it has made some extremely humorous changes a few time, of the sort that could get me on one of those "21 most hilarious autocorrect" lists had I not caught them.) But the kind of artwork I do, on egg or on a flat surface, takes a fairly steady hand. 

Even though the injured area is recovering, I realize there may be a day when recovery only goes so far. For most of my adult life, predating my pysanky writing, I've had compression of the ulnar and medial nerves on the right. Surgery wasn't recommended until I was out of my childbearing years, as the condition can reoccur with the changes of pregnancy. But, by the time I was "in the clear", I'd developed a pulmonary condition and was advised to not have elective surgeries, if at all possible. So I puddle along, hand pain rolling in and fading out. I have exercises I do daily, braces, therapies for exacerbations-- a full regime to call upon. The nerve trauma was flaring up when the injury happened, so this is a double whammy.

I've been thinking that should the time come when I can no longer hold a kistka in my right hand, I should start training the left. In other words, I want to become an ambidextrous pysanky writer. It's ambitious, I know, and there are many folks who can't master the art even with their dominant hand fully functional. But I want to try.

Yesterday, I started my first egg with my left hand. Got a few lines done, then pretty much wept, because I was so far from where I am on the right. I'm like a soprano with too much vibrato. But, I decided to post the picture to a pysanky group I am in. These folks are wonderful. Some, I've known for almost 20 years, and we've migrated to this group. Some I know only a few short months. A couple, I interacted with for the first time yesterday.  Since my post (above), encouragement, sympathy, suggestions, and humor have poured in. 

And that's not all. Some of these marvelous souls are taking up their kistkas, too, in their  non-dominant hand, to try and write a pysanka-- joining me on this weird one-hand-behind-my-back journey. I read that and teared up. I seemed to have gotten a little bit of fellowship in my eye.

Years ago, at a BookCrossing Convention here in Charleston, a friend I only knew from the internet, who'd just flown in from London, looked around the room at all the names she knew from our online group and said, "All my imaginary friends are real!" All mine seem to be real, and those who aren't sharing books with me, seem to be cheering me on as I learn to write again. Friends do indeed take you places you never thought you'd have the courage to go, and if you're very lucky, they travel the journey with you. Thank you incredible eggers of Incredible Eggs and of Instagram.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston

Imagine the timeline of history, stretched out before you. Now imagine that you can reach into that timeline, and grab a chunk of it, say roughly around 44 BCE to 30 BCE. Twist and pull that chunk apart, tease out people, events, landscapes, cultural beliefs, battles, outcomes. Now add in personalities, conversations, conflicts, passion, motivations, and a huge dose of supernatural. Add one expert researcher as author and a fabulously illustrated cover. Do all of the above right, and you've got Shards of Heaven in your hands.

Full disclaimer here: Michael Livingston is a friend. When I heard he had written a novel, I think I actually squealed in delight. (I know I did at least two "happy dances" when I received an ARC, even before getting it into my home.) This is a guy who, when I hear him talk at various conventions, has made this long-ago history major yearn to return to the classroom and explore dusty volumes deep in the stacks of university libraries. The literary lover in me sits in awe listening to talks about Tolkien, or hearing Chaucer or Beowulf in Old English.

Shards of Heaven centers primarily on the last days of Antony and Cleopatra, and their battle for power over Julius Caesar's legacy with Octavian, Caesar's nephew and adopted son. Livingston has reimagined the history, and created a story that weaves through the actual known facts, providing different causes and venues, never altering the history as we know it.

Juba, another adopted son of Caesar, has come into possession of an artifact that is purported to be the Trident of Poseidon, maybe even the very staff of Moses which parted the Red Sea. Juba has learned there are other artifacts, Shards of Heaven, which are said to have the power of the Gods, or maybe the One God, over elements of our world, and is on a quest to find them. Though he is under the command of Octavian, he also seeks revenge for his father, the slain King of Numidia.

As he seeks other Shards of Heaven, there are those in the camp of Antony and Cleopatra who are determined to keep other Shards out of the hands of the enemy. Caesarion, Caesar's only living son, whose mother is Cleopatra, and trusted scholars and centurions, struggle to keep the few magical treasures hidden in Alexandria safe. And Selene, the young daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is determined to be part of that effort.

While reading this, I did shriek and swear at the author, but not for my usual reasons of bad writing or poor plot line. I believe my exact words were, "Michael, if you make me care for these people and then kill them off, I'll never invite you for martinis again!" To be honest, as I know history is unchanged in this version of the tale, I knew some folks would die. Indeed, a few of my favorite characters will not make it to the next book. But Michael, you're safe. You told a good tale, created characters I could care about, described battles I could visualize.  And true to your professorial leaning, you taught me as well. I'm ready for Book II.

Tags:  advanced-reader-copyfirst-novel-or-bookgreat-covermade-me-look-something-upmet-the-authorpart-start-of-a-seriesread-in-2015thought-provokingwill-look-for-more-by-this-authoralternate-history 

Edited to add for anyone wanting to know where to pre-order (which is HUGE for a first-time novelist), it is on Amazon, B&N, and pretty much any major book outlet. Michael has a number of direct links on his page: http://www.michaellivingston.com/fiction/novels/the-shards-of-heaven/

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

RuthEli

Ah those crazy, impetuous kids, and entirely sensible kids. The wedding invitations said June 13. The dress was finished, tuxedo fitted, seating charts finalized, chuppa at the ready. A crystal glass waited to be broken. The marriage license obtained in advance, to make the religious ceremony legal, was tucked away with the groom's gear. The Rabbi had the date in his book. Even Zaydeh was remembering his youth, dreaming of dancing with a beautiful bride.

But it was June 3, 1943, and here they stood, in giddy anticipation. He'd gone to enlist in the army, and when the sergeant heard that a wedding in 10 days would change the check in that little box from single to married, he shook his head and said (paraphrased here, of course), "Look kid. Take my advice and go take your girl to city hall and get married now. Trust me. It's easier to do that than to get your marriage status changed in the army. Then come back and join up."

So, he called his girl, and explained the situation. She took an early lunch break from her job in a lab at Brooklyn College, and grabbed her younger sister Shayndyl. He grabbed the rings and his best buddy Harold. Off to City Hall they went, license in hand, rings in pocket, witnesses at their side. 

Before a New York City administrator, they promised to love and cherish each other. He pronounced them husband and wife. They kissed to seal the deal, hugged their witnesses, and thanked the official. Then he went back to join the army. She went back to work. I imagine each had a secret smile on their face.

Ten days later, they wed. I don't know if her grandfather or brother walked her down the aisle, as her papa had passed 6 years before. (She was always happy that Papa had met her Eli one day, as they walked the boardwalk at Brighton Beach, where she grew up.) But I've seen the film of the wedding reception, and know that that Zaydeh (my great grandfather) danced with his granddaughter, the first of his grandchildren to wed. It brings tears to my eyes every time.

Not so long ago, the shade of my heart (Wheel of Time reference there, for those who didn't get it) gave me a ring to replace my engagement ring, which has become perilously frail, having been worn first by my mother who gifted it to my beloved to give to me when we pledged our troth and became engaged. The new ring, a blue topaz, is slightly too big, and I've not yet resized it. I pulled two plain bands from my jewelry box to use as ring guards for my lovely ring, and alternate which I wear. The rings have been mine for only 6 years, but in my life always. They are my parent's wedding bands, which I visualize as holding the joy of their long marriage, releasing the rest.

Today, I smiled, and slipped both rings on my finger, with my own wedding band and the topaz. Reunited. Happy anniversary Mama and Daddy. Ikh hob ir lib.