- Valentine’s Day – all IN, or meh? Add your thoughts.
- Book Review – A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair
- Photo Contest Corner – Jan|Feb|Mar|Apr 2023 challenge
- Positively Said – inspirational quotes
- Family Celebrations – birthday photos
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY
Elementary school days snippet and giggle. | Sharing colorful candy hearts with classmates or receiving a valentine was such silly fun. I remember my first childhood “crush” on a friend named Todd in 2nd grade. I walked over and gave him a peck on the cheek. He ran off crying. Confused, I ran after him. After all, didn’t he like my innocent expression of joy and affection at 7 years old? haha But wait, when I finally caught up to him, all was forgotten and we walked the rest of the way home like typical childhood friends. (Lesson learned… never do that again, or have I?!)
So back to the big question of the day. On Valentine’s Day, do you make plans for dinner, expect flowers, or meh, just another day? When I was single, I hung out with friends who didn’t have a significant other. No biggie… if and when I was to marry was not a top priority for a number of years. With my eventual one and only, we didn’t give that day any particular credence and morphed into a minimalist version by exchanging meaningful sentimental cards; that’s a certainty, no matter what. If you know other romantics, every day is special. Maybe it’s because I married later in life. Dunno. Yup, nothing too exciting but it magically works for us by keeping it pretty simple while confirming our devotion. Oh, and on occasion, chocolate anything never hurts either! Dark chocolate with sea salt sprinkles or milk chocolate with a gooey center? Dark chocolate truffle, please! I’m game for one of each actually.
Please send your indulgences or thoughts about this “love is in the air” day in the “Leave a Reply” (Comment) section at the bottom of the page. I enjoy reading them!
Truth be told, I am a romantic at heart. Not the mushy PDA or sappy type. Nope, I prefer certain subtleties leading up to any lovely surprise. One of my husband’s attributes is his ability to disguise a routine segway to a trip into an awe-inspiring loving memory. I never know what’s up his sleeve when we travel. Here’s just one extraordinary escapade that proved to be an exhilarating day trip.
On a very special trip to Europe a few years back, one of our stays was in Paris. Among the usual sites we planned to visit, my husband sneakily booked a local guide ahead of time who specialized in venturing off the beaten path far away from the standard tours. We “scootered” around tight allies, cobblestone lanes, and narrow streets until the first destination became clear. Taking in the ebony facade and wafting smells before even setting foot inside, I felt transported back in time to the early 1900s. The best-kept-secret relic had little to no visible signage. Upon entering the tiny organized space, the large flour-ladened prep tables prevented us from moving closer than a few feet inside the pastry shop. Amazed, we watched the bakers create, and I wondered how they could deliver to so many under such cramped conditions… and they did this every day! After sampling some of the delectable heavenly delights, we hopped back on our scooters for our next unknown stop. Now that’s a chocolate-covered love nip I didn’t see coming! (In full disclosure, the courage to navigate the busy roundabouts on my own was missing that day; the second best option was hopping on my partner in crime’s scooter. What a guy!)
Later I mentally kicked myself for not writing more detail in my journal that evening! But I will never forget the sublime meringue lightness, the melt-in-your-mouth fluffy macarons, and choux a la creme (French cream puffs), just to name a few. While sipping a rather stout espresso at the next artsy stop, we couldn’t imagine eating French pastries anywhere else. My husband and I still talk about those mesmerizing, tireless hands working the dough into magical confections. Knead [need] I say more?
A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair
Author Clair’s dramatic and eloquent narration between past and present allows the reader to smoothly snap between the childhood memories of the 27-year-old protagonist and her current circumstances 15 years later. The stark differences upon her return home are portrayed in a coherent and descriptive style, thanks in part to the longish Prologue. The small community of Point Pleasant, WV, is the setting of the tale and is steeped in its share of folklore… in particular the legend of the Mothman.
The unexpected death and subsequent inheritance from Aunt Rosie of the landmark family hotel and residence propelled Eve Parrish to make the long drive to her childhood hometown, Point Pleasant to settle the estate. She and her mother were unaware of Rosalind’s illness. Eve’s reluctance is entrenched with an ill-received memory of the tragic event that plagued the town a decade and a half ago. The lingering sadness was palatable stepping outside into the sunlight from the probate lawyer’s office. With keys in hand, the daunting significance of the hotel family business in relation to the community caused a hard gulp to form in her parched throat as her shoulders sagged. What was Aunt Rosie thinking?!
Eve peers at the glaring changes the township has experienced during her absence. After scanning up and down Main Street, how had the inn survived all these years? Her mind had been made up well before setting foot back on the familiar soil. She would sell both old pieces of real estate and get back to her reliable routine as soon as possible. After all, there wasn’t any real reason to stay. Nope, just a quick trip she had assured her mother who was still back in Harrisburg.
Eve allowed the reflection of the iconic steel expansion bridge to loll about as she ogled its replacement further down the street. Years back, the Silver Bridge had been the local attraction bringing tourists into town from all over. And once the visitors crossed over the grand river, her family’s historical Parrish Inn, majestically appeared front and center as though greeting every passerby. It offered a warm welcome to the bustling Point Pleasant. On one fateful evening, the bridge’s suspension had failed to support the heavy evening congestion of pre-holiday traffic. Without warning, many residents were plunged into the freezing Ohio River below. Most did not survive, including her father and best friend, Maggie Flynn. Her father’s premature death was the sole reason she and her mother uprooted immediately transplanting them in Harrisburg, PA, just far enough away from the sickening cloud of grief. With a simple transfer of ownership, Eve’s mom left her late husband’s unwed sister, Rosie, behind to run the family’s Parrish Inn.
The young heir clucked the tedious thoughts away by deciding the historic inn and its separate challenges would have to wait for now. Eve’s priority was to get settled in at Aunt Rosie’s home until she could find a buyer for both properties. Crossing the threshold to the bequeathed abode, the memories washed through her of all the past play days she had spent there with her best friend. Eve drifted back to how scared one evening Maggie had become after venturing alone further into the woods. She vowed she’d spotted the horrible Mothman, a supernatural winged being that hovered in the marshes and woods near the old abandoned military storage igloos. After that incident, her best friend became catatonic and sadly, Eve never truly knew what freaked out her BFF due to her untimely death on the Silver Bridge.
Although forewarned about the recent vandalism, Eve wasn’t prepared for the reckless damage caused to such a cherished home. Who would want to do this to her aunt?! When the sheriff showed up shortly thereafter to finalize the police report, the shock of seeing little Ryan Flynn respond to the call set her mouth agape. She had to admit her childhood friend was both a comfort and an awkward scenario. He was Maggie’s older brother by a year, and had he ever changed! But more importantly, a warm stirring about Maggie’s much older brother, Caden, wiggled to the forefront. Was her tween crush still around Point Pleasant? She sent the pesky curious flicker away. Walking through the house, the damage appeared to be focused on the back entry, up the stairwell into Aunt Rosie’s bedroom, and her darkroom. What were the vandals seeking? As strange as this appeared, Ryan sluffed it off as an end-of-school kids’ prank. She could only hope!
When Ryan suggested Caden could step in as the handyman to take on the necessary repairs, an elation filled the young woman with this prospect. She agrees without delay. When her old crush showed up, Caden expresses a surprising interest in more than just the construction repairs at hand. The renewed butterflies send her back to her 12-year-old self and once again reeling over the attraction. She’s willing to see where it goes and perhaps he’ll be a good distraction in the interim. But the flashing thoughts returned. How had Caden survived after his car took a nose-dive into the icy water that fateful evening? It sent a heartfelt shiver through her. When the bridge collapsed, Maggie was riding shotgun next to him but was not as fortunate as her older brother.
Setting out to tackle the inn’s issues, she meets up with the temporary hotel manager, Katie, and discovers a few uncomfortable and complicated details about her aunt. The manager’s close-knit relationship with her dearly departed reveals several unknown specifics about her aunt’s life. The mysterious circumstances surrounding Aunt Rosie’s abrupt cancellation of her wedding engagement pursuant to the bridge collapse niggled at Eve’s sensibilities. It felt entirely off to her. What prompted such a rash decision back then? The mystery is afoot. But the deeper she delves into her aunt’s past, the more unanswered questions pop up and Katie doesn’t have all the answers. One thing is certain… her loving Aunt Rosie had secrets!
Undeterred, Eve promises to get to the bottom of the mounting suspicions and threats before leaving town. She won’t be chased away! And just when it appears Eve is gaining traction about her aunt, shocking developments come to light involving the people closest to her. But will justice finally ease the painful past? Betrayal, deceit, and dark secrets are all tangled in this mystery.
My inner sleuth would have liked an additional elusive angle or a gotcha twist in the character development of Aunt Rosie, but maybe that’s just me wanting to know more about her. With that said, it kept my interest piqued due to the fast-paced, tense storyline. Perfect for a weekend snuggle-up escape to rural West Virginia. If you’ve read this book, let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!
Note: There are no spoilers in my reviews and I am not paid to write my analysis of the story. This is a simple no-nonsense perspective of my reading experience.
Photo Contest Corner
Below is an updated Bingo card for Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr #2023picoftheweek and the latest Saturday IG post.
THEME | Run for the Hills
On a recent visit to Arizona, I snapped this from inside the vehicle while we traversed the highways, and surprise — it actually turned out to be one of my faves on the trip. During a planned leg up to the Prescott area northeast of Phoenix, the earth-piercing geological formations of red rocks were a sight to behold. If you’ve never experienced the southwest, they are prevalent throughout. The late afternoon sun offered an amber glow to the high desert landscape. I still gasp each visit even though it’s familiar terrain. Kind of reminded me of the old wild west with a lookout spot nestled in one of the shadowy angles. I stared at this faraway fissure. Was there a possible hidden cave further inside the crevice? Maybe it once was a hideaway from mangy bandits? My playful imagination perked up in a cautionary manner. “Giddy up! Run for the hills,” an old cowboy yelled to his compadres! (Silly huh? I think I’ve seen too many westerns.)
Check out my fun posts on Saturdays with the story behind each snapshot on Instagram @thebrookelynnadventures or @tobyawilliams.
Note: I am not affiliated, only a participant, with the above-referenced photo challenge created by @ofmariaantonia.
Here are a few of my hand-picked memorable and thought-provoking quotes. You can see more on my Instagram @thebrookelynnadventures or @tobyawilliams.
Please feel free to pass along any inspiring and positive quotes in the Leave a Reply (comment) section at the bottom of the page with your Insta address for appropriate credit and tag.
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