Summer has arrived and heat and humidity along with social distancing continue to keep me from my regular summer schedule. In spite of it all, I am finding ways to occupy my time and maintain my energy level. As always, balanced living equals contentment for me, so this was a good week.
This week I read Happy Ever After by Joanne Tracey. I discovered Joanne through my blogging community a couple of years ago. Her highly successful blog, And Always, is witty, entertaining and chock full of my favorite things, including travel posts, recipes and food photos! I don’t know why it took me so long to order one of her books, but now that I have, I’m hooked.
The book is set in Australia and New Zeland and considering Joanne is from Australia, it is a delicious cultural and culinary immersion.
Kate is a fifty-something empty-nester whose thirty-two year marriage has grown stale. She has two beautiful adult children and is married to a good man, but something between them is missing. He feels it too. When her husband sets out to ‘discover himself’ by climbing Mt. Everest, and returns home with ‘I think we need to take some time apart,’ everything changes. This is a story of love, loss, courage and second chances.
Joanne freely admits that she writes stories with happy endings and you will not be disappointed with this one, but be prepared for some twists and turns along the way. The story is relatable on many levels, especially to those of us over fifty, with long-term marriages, disrupted careers and adult children. The author adeptly captures the angst and evolution of a woman struggling to let go, embrace change and become the person she was meant to be.
That should be enough to make you want to read this book, but I feel compelled to mention the food! Kate, like the author, channels her inner Nigella and exposes us to the most delectable feast at every opportunity. You will feel like an invited guest to Ashleigh’s High Tea, Christmas dinner and a host of other family gatherings. Some of the best conversations between the book’s characters happen in the kitchen, over a cup of tea or while sipping a glass of wine. All in all, this book is a thoroughly satisfying read.
Several years ago my book club read The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society and when I saw that it is now a movie on Netflix, of course I had to tune in. If you like historical fiction, set in the WWII era you will love this story.
A few years after the war ends, a journalist visits the Island of Guernsey, with the intention of writing an article about the oddly titled book club that was formed during the German occupation. She is met with reluctance on behalf of some of the members and over time, she discovers why. They have a secret to protect. The unraveling of the secret, is both tragic and heartwarming as the journalist struggles with her own internal dilemma.
The movie is true to the book which makes it hard to choose a favorite, so if you don’t subscribe to Netflix, by all means, check out the book!
Since the beginning of March, my fitness routine has taken as many twists and turns as Joanne’s book. At first I was adapting to Covid restrictions while enjoying spring-like weather, so substituting running, biking and backboard practice for my typical three times per week tennis was easy and enjoyable. As the heat index climbed to over 100 degrees F, that plan fell by the wayside and for a while I walked the treadmill, used the rowing machine and added strength training to my daily indoor routine.
With restrictions easing, our community pool opened and Water Aerobics is now back in session – with a limit on reservations and precautions in place for social distancing. I am enjoying the twice per week workout and will likely keep that up until I can get back to tennis.
Three weeks ago I joined a 9-hole Ladies golf group and have been golfing once per week. We tee-off at 8:30 and finish by 11:00. The heat has been tolerable to this point, especially since we are using golf carts and not walking. I am not burning a lot of calories, but I love challenging myself to score better each week, and the social interaction after golf makes me feel a bit more human. Exercise is as important to mental health as it is to fitness…and what could be better than sunshine!
We phone friends and family more often than pre-Covid, and for now that will do. Our outings are limited to trips to the beach for a sunset picnic, which occasionally includes meeting another couple, but mostly it is just the two of us. Our Covid Bubble remains very limited.
We continue to host Sunday dinner and game night with Malcolm’s Mom and our adult children, who are still living with us and working from our home. This past week we played a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, which is a family favorite. It is a slightly irreverent card game to play with a 91 year old, but it makes us all laugh, so its easy to drop the Puritan pretense.
Meals are mostly from the grille at this point – easy, uneventful, sustenance. It’s summer!
This past week we (low-key) celebrated our daughter’s 30th birthday, even though she refuses to acknowledge it due to her wrecked travel plans. I don’t blame her, who wants to celebrate the ‘I’m a real adult now birthday’ with their parents, when they are supposed to be in the South of France.
Our Independence Day celebration went much the same, low key. There were gatherings, and this year especially, people seem to need to acknowledge and reinforce that ours is a nation of freedom and independence. Unfortunately, freedom always comes with a price and in this case, that means more Covid cases.
Last week I shared that we had booked a short get-a-way to nearby Jekyll Island. The excitement of that plan was short lived, as we have now cancelled. Malcolm has been monitoring new cases versus easing of restrictions very closely and as expected, it has been too much too soon. Several businesses that were previously open are now closed, including the food and beverage services at our hotel in Jekyll.
Considering the circumstances, the hotel offered a full refund and we will try again in a couple of months. Maybe it’s time to buy that RV!
The Sahara dust is blowing into our area this week and should produce some interesting sunsets. With any luck, I will capture another photo similar to the one I took last year when the dust arrived.
Have a wonderful week everyone. Stay healthy.
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