POETRY: “September Sunflower” by Christine Bode

Poetry

September Sunflower

A poem by ©Christine Bode, 2019
(for my sister, Dianne Arenburg)

The majesty of the September sunflower
Lies in its ability to always reach for the sun.

Tall, optimistic, and full of goodness,
Its rays shine in splendour towards Heaven and,

Despite the elements, it remains faithful to its calling,
Seeking spiritual knowledge, light and truth,

While its yellowness symbolizes vitality, intelligence, and happiness,
Those are things that we humans pray for daily.

The Greek myth of Clytie and Apollo
Awarded the sunflower its adoration and loyalty,

Van Gogh recognized its significance long before
The rest of us mere mortals,

As did my sunflower sister
Who understands its magnificence,

Because she’s not bitter or cynical and always
Leads with her heart.

Loyal, nourishing and warm,
She seeks out positivity and

Just like the blooming sunflower,
Always turns to face the sun.

BOOK REVIEW: Flirting with Fifty by Jane Porter

Book Review

Title: Flirting with Fifty
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: Berkley
Released: May 24, 2022
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0593438381
Stars: 4.5

It has been a while since I have read a Berkeley title by New York Times Bestselling Author Jane Porter, and I am thrilled that she has this new book, Flirting with Fifty, out now, with a follow-up called Flirting with the Beast coming in November.

I do not read many romance novels because I have not been fortunate in love and gave up hope of finding my soulmate long ago. As someone flirting with sixty, I am cynical and jaded after being hurt by men too many times. I prefer spending time with friends, attending concerts, writing visceral poetry, reading literature, and watching dark, fantasy, supernatural or period dramas on TV. I am independent, self-reliant and comfortable with being single rather than dating from the truly cringe-inducing shallow pool of uninteresting men in my age group where I live.

As a result, although I have never been married, I can relate to Porter‘s heroine in this book. Paige Newsome is a professor of math and statistics at UC Berkeley and a divorced mother of three grown daughters, each of whom lives in various parts of the US. Her best friend, Elizabeth, is always there for her, her career is fulfilling, and she has interests outside of work. Her life is full. Paige doesn’t think anything is missing in her life. Then she’s coerced into a co-teaching assignment for a semester that includes an exciting field trip to Tanzania. The other teacher is a charismatic, celebrity professor whom she had a one-night stand with thirty years earlier when she was an insecure, inexperienced student.

I had a one-night stand almost twenty years ago in Ireland that unravelled me with its unexpected, exciting perfection. If that Black Irish, early 2000s, Johnny Depp-reminiscent social worker ever found his way in front of me again, I would feel like forty-nine-year-old divorcée Paige does when she realizes that the well-known Princeton tenured professor of biology (who has a show on the Discovery channel) she will be teaching with is her long lost one-night stand from Paris.

Jack King is everything a woman like me wants in a romantic interest: intelligent, interesting, successful, confident, handsome, and comfortable in his skin. And I won’t forget to mention his Aussie accent. That kind of man would make most women’s hearts skip a beat. And I love that he “believes value comes from accomplishments and not acquisitions.” However, at fifty-five, not even perfect guys come without baggage. Jack’s career demands a lot of travel; his twenty-eight-year-old son, Oliver, is his heart, and he never remarried after his wife died of ovarian cancer. He also never committed to his longtime, on-again, off-again lover and colleague, Camille. So could he possibly commit to Paige?

What I love about Porter’s writing is that she writes so authentically for her audience and makes storytelling appear effortless. Her characters are richly and carefully developed personalities with flaws that we understand and relate to. When Paige and Jack talk about their children, the meaning of parenthood for each is evident. All of Paige’s insecurities about her body and sex are mine. Porter knows her settings and characters intimately, and readers can sense her love for them. Most of all, I love that Jane’s stories make me dream again about abandoned possibilities for later-life love. I know I have to leave Kingston for it to be possible, and Porter almost makes me believe I can do it and that true love could lurk around the next corner. Like Paige, I ask myself, “Why couldn’t she try different things without obsessing about the negatives or the future?” And could I make new friends at this stage of life who would not only have time for me but have my back? We will never know the answers to such questions if we don’t take a risk.

Sometimes we long “to be greedy and want more. More adventure. More fun. More change. More new, fresh, interesting.” And we won’t get it if we don’t start by doing something different. However, being genuinely tired, disappointed, and exhausted by life does stand in the way of risk-taking in the future. Fortunately, there is safety in living vicariously through Jane Porter‘s thoughtful, romantic books.

BOOK REVIEW: Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon

Book Review

Title: Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Imprint: Doubleday Canada
Released: November 23, 2021
Pages: 928
ISBN-13: 978-0385685542
Stars:  3.5

Like every other die-hard fan of the Outlander series and Diana Gabaldon’s writing, I anxiously anticipated this ninth book, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, and man, we waited a long time for it. In the meantime, I and millions of others enjoyed the Outlander television series immensely, although it does not faithfully stick to the books’ plot lines.

I read a couple of other books simultaneously because, unlike many of the other volumes in the series, I could easily put this one down and wait for it. I was often uninterested in the lives of the newer characters, including Silvia Hardman and her family, Agnes and Fanny. I also felt that William received a lot of space but didn’t do anything of substance, although hopefully, that will come. I find it hard to connect with William and care about him even though I want to, but I enjoyed him getting to know Bree a little.

I have read these books because I love Jamie and Claire, their love story and adventures. I wanted Diana Gabaldon to spend more time with them in this book than she did. However, I also appreciate Roger and Brianna, Young Ian (though his Quaker wife Rachel is a bore), Fergus and Marsali (I would’ve liked to see them have a much larger storyline) and especially Lord John Grey. I love him as much as the Frasers. I could do with fewer children in the story, but I understand why they need to be there. I also enjoy every appearance of John Quincy Myers. I could care less about the rest of the characters (except for Hal and Percy); in my humble opinion, they received far too much time.

There must be antagonists in every book, and Ezekiel Richardson has proven to be a decent one, although he is no Jack Randall or Stephen Bonnet.

My favourite scenes included the bear attack on Amy, the emotional scene between Jamie and Jenny, and when Fergus finds out who his birth father is. That was awesome! I also thoroughly enjoyed the heart-pounding battle scene near the end of the book and holding my breath to see whether Jamie would come out alive.

While characters like Amy, Fanny, Agnes, and Silvia may support the storyline, they receive too much space. Unlike Amaranthus, they are not exciting characters, and I wouldn’t have cared if Gabaldon had omitted them. Also, while dramatic, the whole baby-delivering incident with Agnes’ mom didn’t feel unique compared to other scenes Diana has written in past books. I know she doesn’t write linearly, but in scenes, as they come to her. Sometimes I think that method can make the book cumbersome.

I will have to trust that she had a reason for everything. There is no doubt that I will read the tenth book, which I hope will be the end of the series. Jamie and Claire, at their age, likely won’t have the types of adventures that they once experienced—which made for exhilarating novels. I don’t care anymore how many of Fraser’s Ridge settlers Claire heals or how many babies she delivers, or about them hanging out with a dozen grandchildren or fighting in more small battles during the birth of the United States. (I didn’t mind the bees.) I would like to see their entire immediate family return to Scotland in the tenth book, whether to the eighteenth century or the twentieth. I want to know how it ends, and I think Gabaldon could wrap it up nicely in 600 pages or less.

Here’s hoping I live long enough to read it.

BOOK REVIEW: The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Book Review

Title: The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health
Author:  Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Publisher: Skyhorse
Released: November 16, 2021
Pages: 934
ASIN: B08X5YWRRP
Stars:  4.00

It took me two months and one week to read this book on Kindle—all 934 pages. I admit to not reading every one of the 2,200 endnote citations, but I read a few from media sources that are considered, by the mainstream, to be credible and reputable. It took me almost two months to decide whether to share this review. I am publishing it now because I believe in freedom of speech and expression, and it is up to the readers of this book to decide what they think.

Disturbing and anxiety-inducing, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health is a book that, no matter where you stand on COVID-19 restriction issues, vaccines, or government response to the pandemic, should be carefully read—preferably with an open mind. Anyone who leaves a scathing comment about this book when they haven’t read it—or based on their googling Kennedy and finding him discreditable without ever having spoken to him or listened to him talk live—should be discounted. But, unfortunately, their opinions are just that. Do you believe everything you read on the Internet?

I have followed Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Children’s Health Defense, and many of his well-known supporters since April 2020. I have trust issues and haven’t trusted Bill Gates, our government, or mainstream media for years because I have worked in social media marketing for thirteen years. I know that Big Tech leverages its algorithms to achieve its objective for the owners, world governments, and intelligence agencies. I did not know these things four years ago. I have always had difficulty with some authority figures and following rules that I think do not make sense. That probably puts me in a particular category. I am an empath and a truth seeker who knows people who believe in the “conspiracy theories,” I want to know why because I care about them. I also wanted to know what the so-called anti-vaxxers and misinformation/disinformation rebels had to say to decide what I believed.

I have to trust my gut because it’s difficult to discern between what is truth or misinformation and disinformation. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is someone I believe, based on my intuition. I have listened to Kennedy speak live on social media and private websites numerous times, and he articulates his truth. His career speaks for itself, and the man is intelligent. He has followed his truth to the detriment of family relationships. He is not perfect or without sin. I can understand why the mainstream media labels him as dangerous. He threatens their narrative. He has sold over 1,000,000 copies of this book. Before you get upset, I haven’t only listened to this group’s arguments but read legacy news and magazine articles about the pandemic. I listen to our Premier and Prime Minister and find their arguments flawed. Science is fluid. There will always be a virus. So, what have I come to believe?

There are many explosive facts revealed in this book.

While The Real Anthony Fauci may not be flawless, Kennedy did extensive research to support his argument. Unfortunately, there are some broken links in the endnotes. Many news sources will not be deemed credible by the mainstream (such as Kennedy’s foundation, Children’s Health Defense and its contributors). However, there is enough doubt cast in this book about the intentions of Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, the US government, intelligence agencies, heads of Silicon Valley Big Tech, and Big Pharma to make one raise an eyebrow. Some people think a carefully orchestrated plandemic of epic proportions deceived us. I suspect that truth is a very subjective concept.

I won’t write a detailed book synopsis, as there is one on Simon & Schuster, but if you are currently disturbed or displeased by the pandemic response or its often draconian restrictions, reading this book might give you hope. There are people in the world still fighting for democracy in the increasingly totalitarian world of the 2020s. It might also keep you awake at night. Read it at your discretion.

Trust your gut. If you think you see a red flag, it’s probably there. If you think there’s something rotten in Denmark, there likely is. Don’t decide under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

We choose to be activists and fight against the globalist agenda or listen to what they tell us. It’s up to us. I have had enough of this clusterfuck, and I want my life back. I have stopped reading the news because it is terrible and will destroy my mental health, and I cannot change what is happening in the world. I know who I will not vote for and to who I will not give my money. I know humans must dramatically change if we want this planet to survive. I believe a revolution is most likely inevitable.

Next, I must ask myself, what are you willing to do to fight for it?