A Man Called Ove

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”
Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

I’m not a book reviewer and I rarely suggest one because everyone has different tastes when it comes to what they enjoy reading. But I’ll make an exception for A Man Called Ove.

This is a word of mouth book written by Swedish author, Fredrik Backman that has become an international best seller. It is a story of loss and love, how first impressions are not always reliable and why people should first be understood before we pass judgment.   It will make you laugh out loud and bring tears to your eyes in a matter of pages.

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A brief synopsis from the back cover…

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines and a short fuse. People think him bitter and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots.
Ove’s well-ordered solitary world gets a shakeup one November morning with the appearance of new neighbors, a chatty young couple and their two boisterous daughters, who announce their arrival by accidentally flattening Ove’s mailbox with their U-haul. What follows is a heartwarming tale of unkept cats, unlikely friendships and a community’s unexpected reassessment of the one person they thought they had all figured out.

If you’re looking for a gift this holiday season or just want an easy read to curl up with during the holidays, I have a feeling Ove will reward the time you spend with him.

One last passage from the book…

“To love someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love with everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one’s own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant that you would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect but for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That’s it, all the little secrets that make it your home. “
– Fredrik Backman , A Man Called Ove”

Enjoy!

On Growing Up

Whenever I’ve traded childhood stories with anyone or discussed what it was like growing up, I always tell them the same thing; if anyone had a better childhood than I did, I’ve never met them.

I always said it but never gave much thought as to why I felt that way. I suppose, as a child, you live life a certain way and take so much for granted that you never consider that others may not be as fortunate.
As I grew up  got older, the reasons didn’t seem important enough to spend time thinking about it. I was busy with work and helping to raise three daughters; living in the present. I never understood until years later what made growing up so special for me.

It was family.

But it was more than just family. It was having immediate and extended family around me all the time. I never realized how blessed I was as a child. Aside from having terrific parents who worked hard, respected and loved each other and set the right examples, my brother and I were surrounded by our grandfathers, aunts, uncles and cousins every day.
We lived in an Italian/Jewish neighborhood which was only a few blocks by a few blocks. My parents owned a small grocery/meat store and we lived behind the store in a small two bedroom apartment. It was the classic neighborhood corner store, where every one congregated. We didn’t have much monetarily but I never noticed or thought about it.
My aunt and uncle lived around the corner, my cousins up the block, another aunt who was like a grandmother to me and was always around, lived a few miles away. Both of my grandmothers had died but my mother’s father, who had originally owned the store, was there everyday. He came each morning and left before or after dinner. My friends and I would play cards with him, pitch pennies, play handball, listen to his stories and tell jokes.
My dad’s family lived in Brooklyn. They came to visit every other Sunday. Aunts, uncles and my other grandfather. That grandfather would take me to the park to hit baseballs, play basketball and stop at the candy store on the way back for an ice cream soda. Every other sunday.

Life was different then. Families didn’t move away as much as they do now. They remained a part of the neighborhood. They stayed close. They made memories. The kind you can only make when you can walk down the street to your aunt’s home and know there will always be something in the oven or candy dish for you. Where you can walk into their yard and help pick the figs or pears off the tree and leave with a bag of fruit and veggies. Where your grandfathers became two of your best friends.

It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never experienced those moments, all that they’ve missed. The weekly sunday dinners, the loud card games, the laughter, the knowledge that you can never wander too far without someone you love looking out for you. Someone right there in your backyard.

As you get older, you begin to lose those pieces of your life and childhood. Stories that only a select few people knew are not told as often. One day they will fade completely. Places you went for sunday dinners now have other families sitting in that same kitchen. Sometimes when I pass by, I want to knock on the door, just to peek in and imagine everyone again, as they once were.
Change is always part of life’s eternal equation. That’s just the way it is. But what made my childhood so special remains with me today. No amount of change can change that.

Because you can’t take away family.

 

 

 

Enough Already

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’ You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.”
The American President

I’ve always loved those words in the movie, The American President. Unfortunately, we forget them sometimes.

I was glad the election was over and hoped to move forward regardless of who won, but in the word of Pacino in Godfather 3, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

The only reason I’m writing this is that I’m starting to get annoyed and this is my place to come and vent so if you want to bail on this post, I completely understand. For those who stay, I’ll try to be brief.

If you’ve read my blog at all in the last few months, you know I haven’t commented much on the election and that I’m not a fan of either party or candidate. It was an ugly campaign conducted by two people who are low on the character scale and in my opinion, neither one was/is worthy of holding this office.

But someone had to be elected and the process played itself out. Fine. The winners celebrate and the losers cry for a couple of days. That’s the way all games are played and this one, played out with a couple of demagogues, was no different.

But if you listen to the media, who refuses to let this go, you’d think Mother Teresa lost to Idi Amin. Come on now. Let’s be honest.

Is Trump capable of leading this country and is he as bad as he’s portrayed or was he just telling people what they wanted to hear in order to get votes? I don’t know, but we’re going to find out in short order. His supporters may ultimately be disappointed in who they elected because at the end of the day, Trump is a pretty good businessman/dealmaker, and any good dealmaker knows that if you have any chance of surviving in the world you choose to live, compromise is critical. He’s already backing off a bit. We’ll see where that goes.

As for Hillary, you’d think she was as pure as the driven snow. Really? Even those who backed her have to admit that it was her own sins that came back to bite her and ultimately cost her the election. There are so many reasons why she lost and quite frankly, Trump is the least of them. If you can’t beat Trump in a Presidential election with the kind of money, experience and pedigree you have stuck in your back pocket, what does that tell you about her? The democrats chose the only person in America who couldn’t beat Trump and that’s their fault. The deal they made with her was cut a long time ago and everyone knows it. Except no one knew or anticipated how badly she would mess up. And even when it all came out, they arrogantly continued to dismiss it and believed people would forget about it. They had no idea that the American public was going to take a page out of the movie, Network, throw open their windows and yell, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

Some people want you to believe there are other underlying reasons why this election went the way it did. Those are the people who are math majors with a concentration on Division. For the most part, I believe this country is better than that.

So the game should be over for now. We have a process that’s fair, though heavily influenced by huge sums of money. It’s time to move on. There have been many times when the person I wanted to win, lost. It bothered me. But when it was over, I wanted that person to succeed,  because there is no other choice. If he doesn’t succeed, everyone loses. The betterment of this country should be more important than our individual differences.
We all have a right to protest within the boundaries of the law. We all have a right to speak our minds and call out and reject our elected officials when we feel they don’t have our best interests at heart.

And that’s exactly what happened here.

Let’s move on.

Sliding Doors

“There’s no where you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”
John Lennon/Paul McCartney
All You Need Is Love

There is a new television show this fall season called Timeless, about three people who are sent back in time to chase an individual from current time who is interested in changing history for reasons that are not yet quite clear. It’s not a great show but the historical aspect of it is interesting.
The show reminded me of a 1998 movie called Sliding Doors, staring Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s about a woman who is fired from her job. When she leaves early and rushes out to catch her train, two scenarios develop. In the first she catches the train and comes home to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She dumps the boyfriend and eventually finds happiness with another man in her life. In the second scenario the door closes shut as she is about to board and she gets home after the woman has left. Eventually, her life becomes miserable as  the coming years are filled with questions of infidelity.

Life is like that, isn’t it.

We often think about the big decisions we’ve made that have led us to a certain job, or marriage, or a life choice we never saw coming. But it really is the smallest of actions or decisions that sometimes have the greatest impact on our lives.

A turn or phone call we make. A decision to leave early or late. Where we chose to live or go to school. Where we decide to sit in a car or on a plane, train or bus.

An invitation we accept or decline.

People we meet who will significantly impact our lives or those we have lost the opportunity to ever meet.

We can make ourselves crazy thinking about all the possibilities, opportunities gained or lost, but the truth is that many times we never know what may have happened if we had chosen another path or made a different decision.

History was made for a reason; whether it affects the world, our individual lives or both. People become heroes because they stopped for coffee on their way to work. Others saved or lost their  own lives for doing the same thing.

Is it really that arbitrarily simple?

Is life just a series of sliding doors?

Or is there no where you can be, that isn’t where you’re meant to be?

A Little Political Fun

Here is a short but interesting little quiz that’s apparently been taken over 45 million times. It asks a few questions about where you stand on the most important issues in the upcoming election and then matches your answers to the candidate whose views you most closely associate with.

I know some people who were very surprised at the results after taking the quiz. Maybe your results will be in line with whom you’ve chosen to vote for, or maybe it’ll make you smile or even laugh once your results are shown.

If you have a few minutes, it might be fun. Unless of course, you don’t want to know….:)

Happy Voting!

http://www.isidewith.com/

Helping Out My Bestie

My seventeen month old granddaughter Brooklyn, helping her best friend Bailey, get ready for the game. Since she’s a solid secondary food source and constant companion, he’ll let her do just about anything.

Even this.