Read any good books lately?



I love books. I think I have a book gene. Bookstores are one of my favorite places. Libraries also rank high on my list of great places to be. The first time both of my daughters were in school full time and I didn’t have to work I went to the library by myself. I know that is sad but it was exciting to me. My Dad had an extensive library with books on many different topics. Many of his books had post-it notes attached to the pages. His soft covered books had sentences or entire paragraphs underlined in pencil with notes written in the margins. Sorting through his books when he died was a huge undertaking but my sister and I did it. More than once in our frustration we commented we were never going to buy another book. Of course that didn’t happen. I mean how could it?

I read real books but I also read e-books. I enjoy highlighting paragraphs using the various colors or looking up the definition of a word with a tap of my finger. I haven’t mastered finding things after I underlined them but I think that is my lack of me being techno savvy.

The little bookmark icon in e-books is helpful and cute. I have used store receipts, clothing tags and even a tissue when I can’t find a bookmark for a print book. Folding the corner over isn’t something I do. My favorite bookmark is one that belonged to my Dad. I actually gave it to him. It is currently marking my place in my guilty pleasure book by James Patterson – The People vs Alex Cross.  There is nothing worst than when your bookmark falls out. Well, dropping your book in the bathtub or leaving it somewhere isn’t great either. Really not good if it is a library book.

Over the past few years, I have talked about writing a book. Since last fall I stopped talking and started writing. Below is a brief summary of my work in progress:

Once a month, my firefighter husband and I sat down with our calendars to coordinate life. We negotiated, adjusted and agreed on our schedules. Each month, I ended that conversation with “No Surprises, let me know if it isn’t going to work but no surprises.” Most mornings I reminded Bruce and our daughters of the plan. Then one day it all changed.

No Surprises is the story of my husband’s line of duty death and my journey as I navigate a national tragedy with faith, family and the FDNY. The book is set within the framework of The Pile, The Pit and The Plaza – the names of the World Trade Center since September 11, 2001. The WTC and I traveled together on remarkable journey which I believe offers a context for many of life’s experiences. First there is the incident. The incident that sets your life in a direction you never expected –  a diagnose, an accident, words spoken in haste, job lost, betrayal, death of a loved one, a terrorist attack. The event that shakes you to the core. In the aftermath there is a massive pile. A pile of things that need to be dealt with – options for treatments, decisions about the everyday, paperwork to be completed, plans to be canceled or rearranged, funerals to be planned, keepsakes to be shared, memories to be cherished. Where do you start? The immediate replaces the important or maybe the important replaces the immediate. Eventually maybe after days or months or even years the pile is gone, and you recognize there is a pit. A void left by what was taken, a hole left by finally sorting through the pile. Now what? How do you fill the hole to make it whole? How do you move forward now that the pile is gone? How do you move from the pit to the plaza?

Blog posts have been few and far between because of my work in progress but I hope to share sections of the work in progress and other thoughts right here so stay tuned.

So to answer my own question, read any good books lately?


  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • Judas by Amos Oz


How about you?

teaching children about September 11, 2001

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Through my volunteer work with the 9/11 Tribute Center I have had the amazing opportunity to share my story and story of September 11, 2001 with the next generation. I have spoken to school groups while sitting on the floor in gallery 5 of the Tribute Center or via the internet to classrooms in  another state or standing in a classroom in New York or New Jersey. Each time I am struck with what an awesome responsibility it is  to tell the facts and person to person history of the day that changed the world. As the 14th anniversary approaches I have included a list of resources that you may find helpful in teaching the children in your life about that tragic day.

9/11 Tribute Center has resources for parents and teachers –

National September 11th Museum also has resources –

Below are some books that appropriate for children. Please read the suggested ages in the book reviews on Amazon before reading a particular book to a child. The first six listed here are appropriate for elementary aged children. The other books are appropriate for older children. Please monitor what information your teens are finding online and don’t forgot to engage in real conversation with your teens about the events of that day. 


Related posts –


My year in review. The ABCs of 2014.


year in reviewA is for arabesque. I taught one ballet class a week.

B is for book clubs. I belonged to two.

C is for children’s camp. I directed with the best team ever.

D is for Dunkin Donuts. I drank a lot of coffee.

E is for East of Eden. I enjoyed reading this John Steinbeck classic.

F is for family and friends. Fun, food and fantastic stories.❤

G is God. He is good.

H is for home. I accomplished a few items on the “to do list”.

I is for ice cream. Always a yummy treat.😋

J is for Japan. Amazing second visit.

K is for Kansas. Time spent with family.

L is for library. My daughter completed her masters in library information science.

M is for Minnesota. I spent ten days caring for my grand-nieces and nephews.

N is for National September 11 Museum. It opened in May.

O is for opportunities. I am blessed with many.

P is for PA. My new secondary residence.

Q is for quizzing. I teach in my local church and direct on the district.

S is for speaking. I spoke at 4 events including one all-day conference with my daughter.

T is for tea with Miss Carol. Always a treat.

U is for United. The airline I usually use. Flew to San Antonio, Seattle and Minneapolis.

V is for volunteering at Tribute Center. Lead and supported tours, spoke to school groups.

W is for writing. I took a writing course and now I need to get busy!

X is for eXcerise. I need to be more disciplined.😐

Y is for year. Hard to believe another year has come and gone.

Z is for zero. The number of regrets I have.

In 2015- my goals are to read and write more, watch television less, enjoy simple times with family and friends and relish in being a grandma in the near future.😊

Travel Tuesdays S1E24 – Greenwich Village

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Only in Greenwich Village can you stand on the corner of Waverly Place and Waverly Place – one of the many quirky little streets that makes Greenwich Village an exciting place to explore but a little difficult to navigate. A few friends and I had a delightful time two weeks ago exploring Greenwich Village with Judith Pucci of Downtown Tours. I know Judith from the 9-11 Tribute Center where we are both docents. Judith, a longtime Greenwich Village resident, leads a wonderful, informative walking tour of her neighborhood. Judith tells the story of Greenwich Village by sharing historical facts on three events that shaped the area – the grid, yellow fever epidemic and the big cut. She has wonderful anecdotes to share. Did you know that Gay Street isn’t named for a feeling of happiness or for a sexual preference? It is named after the land owner, Mr. Gay.IMG_1984
Also learned that NYU owns all the land around Washington Square Park but the city owns the park. It made me feel smart when Judith asked “has anyone read Washington Square by Henry James?” I was able to answer yes since the library book club read it last year. 🙂

Judith is a wealth of information, wonderful storyteller and an excellent tour guide. You won’t be disappointed if you take a tour with her. I have included a link to her website.

heard recently

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While having lunch with my mother in law at her assisted living residence:

“Are those new residents?” “No, that is Hannah and a guest” – said of me and my mother in law.

“Wow, she is tall. She must be 6 feet.” said of me when I stood up to leave the dining room.

While attending a performance at the American Music Theater:

Me to Meghan – “I think you are the youngest person here.” Meghan to me – “I think we both are the youngest people here.” side note – the show was very good and this was my Mother’s Day gift from my daughters.

Text from my sister:

“Mum killed her phone today! She dropped it in water. Long story!”

A quote in a thank  you note I received:

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” J.R.R. Tolkien

At Collyde Conference at Princeton Alliance Church:

“We use imagination towards fear not love. Being terrified is about what might happen instead of imagining what God can do”  Makoto Fujimura

“You are more able than you know and people are more ready than you expect.” Jonathan Golden

“Only today is real, tomorrow doesn’t exist” Margaret Feinberg

“One day, some day are safe words.” Margaret Feinberg

“You can’t intentionally touch Jesus and not have something happen” Bonnie Gay

“My calling is not tied to the things I do.” Joan Ball

“Am I going to put my faith in God’s identity or in God’s activity?” Pete Wilson

“If God doesn’t give us one more thing, we still owe him everything.” Pete Wilson

on telephone with IRS after receiving a notice, being on hold for 27 minutes and explaining that they have cashed the check but maybe I owe penalties (long story):

“The records show there is no balance due.” – IRS   “but you sent me a notice” – me   “call back at the end of week maybe you will owe something then.” – IRS    all righty then

at Book club:

” In the summer there is more time to read so let’s read Anna Karenina.” not said by me – good news, I got it for 99 cents for my nook, bad news I needed to start reading yesterday….

DC and me

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I visited Washington DC this weekend with my youngest daughter. We had a wonderful mother/daughter trip. I hadn’t visited the District of Columbia to see the sights since July of 2001. In 2001, my eldest daughter attended a one week course at American University. I had driven there and back in one day to drop her off. Those were crazy supermom times. When it was time to pick her up, my mom and younger daughter tagged along and we spent a few a days seeing the sights. During this past weekend, I mentioned a few times to M that we did this or that when we were here in 2001. She didn’t remember the trip. She was only 14 years old at the time. She remembered a few things she did on her senior trip to DC in Spring of 2004. And even commented that she didn’t really appreciate all of it. I mentioned that even if she didn’t appreciate the trip it was a worthwhile experience. I quoted my Dad who was famous for saying “travel is wasted on the young.” Which I don’t think he really believed because he gave my siblings and I opportunities to travel. Anyway as we were looking for a parking garage this past weekend, I commented ” July 2001 was the first time I ever remember having to open the trunk and them using that long mirror to look under the car.” Strangely M remembered that, too. Little did we know that would become a normal part of life in today’s world.

Washington is a beautiful city. It is very clean and doesn’t seem cluttered. As we walked along we mentioned how quiet it seemed in comparison to NYC. I often wonder what people think when they visit NYC for the first time. I love NYC but I think the energy of the city overwhelms people. There is something awe-inspiring about DC. The buildings are so majestic and the memorials are stunning. I felt humbled not just by the beauty of the structures but by the sacrifice and ideals that they represented. I was reminded of what an amazing country I live in. As my Dad used to say “Our form of government isn’t perfect but it is better than any other form of government you will find in the rest of the world.”

Our 30 hour visit to DC included the Newseum, the Pentagon Memorial, a night tour of the city, the Capitol tour, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Museum of American History. We walked a lot. Noteworthy: The Newseum is a newer museum and well worth the time and admission price. The world map that shows which countries have a free press is a moment to be thankful. I was saddened that the Pentagon Memorial doesn’t have a larger number of visitors. I was grateful to visit it with a fellow docent from the Tribute Center who was able to tell my daughter and I the meaning of the various elements that make up this beautiful memorial. He also shared his personal September 11 Pentagon story. The night tour of DC is a must. The memorials are stunning at night and not crowded. The tour bus stops at the Capitol, White House, Jefferson, World War II, Roosevelt, MLK, Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam and Marine Memorials. The tour guide disembarked with us and told all kinds of interesting facts. If it hadn’t been so windy it would have been perfect. The funniest line of the weekend was when we were in the Library of Congress and we couldn’t find any books. M commented “There are no books. They are all on a Kindle.” 🙂

The weird thing about the visit was the reality of “the personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy”. The Newseum had a September 11 section, the road in front of the White House is closed because of 9-11, other places had September 11 remembrances and the Capitol had a memorial to Flight 93. It wasn’t a negative thing. It was almost like a secret my daughter and I shared. And I wondered what secrets the other visitors had as they looked at the various memorials and remembered a family member or friend.

It was a great weekend to spend time with my daughter and to remember that “freedom isn’t free”.

a simple idea, a friend and books

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For some time now, a friend of mine has wanted to get to know more people in the community where she lives. Like many people  she commutes to outside of her community to work. Her children are grown so she doesn’t have “the school connection” to her community. I have lived in my community for 28 years but because I always worked outside of my community and my children didn’t attend school in my local community I too felt the desire/ need to be better connected in my community.  We both enjoy reading and discussing books so we decided to start a book club. To give credit where, where credit is due my friend was the originator of the library book club idea.

Last December, we met with one of the librarians at the local public library. We told them our idea to start a book club. The librarian wanted to know “who would be welcome to attend?”. We said “whoever wanted to”. Since it would be open to all the library would reserve one of their rooms for us at no charge, they would mention the book club in their newsletter and they would secure copies of the book we wanted to read. Sounds simple – we were actually a little surprised at how easy it seemed to be. Then there was a little bump in the road. The first book we wanted to read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese wasn’t readily available so the library asked us to pick another book from a very extensive list of books. Oh my!! Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. We looked over the list and decided on Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  Our thought being with the popularity of The Help it would be interesting to read a book written by a female African-American writer. As the first Tuesday in February approached we decided that the worst that could happen would be no one except the two of us would show up and if that happened we would just discuss the book between ourselves and call it a day. Well, 3 other people came and a lively discussion ensued.

Since then we have met the first Tuesday of each month. I have read some books that I would never have chosen to read if they weren’t the “book club” book.  As one of the other book club members commented “it is good to read a book that may have been required reading in school but  now you  can read it and don’t have to write a paper or take an exam.” I have been privy to the great conversations. I have met some new people and I look forward to seeing them on the first Tuesday of the month. The interesting thing is we don’t actually know very much about each other. We know each other’s name and maybe one or two random facts – retired or working, has children or not. I guess what we don’t know is each other’s stories. I like learning other’s people’s stories. But to be honest there is something to be said for just being people who read the same book and get together to discuss it. It is simple, it isn’t messy and it is very enjoyable. Sometimes you need that.

In case you are interested, we have read and discussed the following books. It is an open discussion. Sometimes we have discussion questions, sometimes one of the book club members just starts talking about the book. The book for the next month is suggested by a member of the group and the only “rule” is if you suggest a book, you have to show up to discuss it.  Only once did someone break the rule! We average about 7 people on the first Tuesday of the month and if everyone came who has ever come we would be 20 people.

February – Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston    1937

March – The History of Love by Nicole Kraus 2005

April – To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf  1927

May – The Awakening by Kate Chopin 1899

June – Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson 1980

July – The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway 2008

August – Eugene Grandet by Honore de Balzac 1833

and I am just finishing  Washington Square by Henry James 1880 to be discussed in September.

Random comment – After the discussion about To the Lighthouse, I realized that the people who knew a lot about the author’s personal life seemed to view the book in a different way that those of us who didn’t. Thought that was interesting 🙂