Stephen King

A great post from a fellow Stephen King fan. I don’t agree with him on his views about Carrie, or his idea that The Stand miniseries is good–(shuddering to think!), but I found this article fun enough to share.

Quoth The Wordsmith

1086242_35259126I have had less time to read lately since I have been so tired. My brain is tired, my body is tired, and when I get home I just want to “be”. Still, I have found a few minutes here and there to read, and right now I am slowly making my way through The Stand. It’s not the first Stephen King book that I have read, and it probably won’t be my last. I enjoy his stories, but sometimes his style throws me off.

When he references music, I never know what he is talking about. Lyrics and bands that make their way into his work always force me to stop and scroll through my brain to see if I know of them. It’s extremely rare if I do. When he uses those strange and awkward phrases and sayings, I usually don’t even know what they mean. I…

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In the Waiting

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“Stay there in the questions, in the doubts, in the wonderings and loneliness, the tension of living in the Now and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God, your wounds and hurts and aches, until you are satisfied that Abba is there too. You will not find your answers by ignoring the cry of your heart or by living a life of intellectual and spiritual dishonesty.” From Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women

So much of our lives are spent waiting. We wait in line, we wait in a drive-thru, we wait for a train, a bus, to graduate. We wait to find love, we wait for love to find us, we wait for test results. We wait to find out if we’re pregnant, we wait to find out the due date. Many times, we pray and it seems as if God doesn’t answer. But in the still quiet of his presence, he says, “Wait.”

We don’t want to wait.

We have smart phones so we don’t have to wait to get to a computer. We buy instant dinners, instant coffee, and when we go to a restaurant we expect instant service.

Why does God make us wait on Him? Why does He, in His heaven, who can change us in a blink of an eye, make us wait for answers? Is he too busy? Are our requests too many for Him?

We are not the only ones to ask these questions, and God is big enough to handle it. It’s ok to question God, and it’s often a reflex reaction whenever really bad things happen to us. When we miscarry. When a child is sick and the answers are not coming. When marriages dissolve. When loved ones die suddenly. When we hurt and grieve, crying out to God, who seems silent.

God has not promised us a life without pain, grief, and death. He has only promised us that He is with us, and with Him comes the light.

Even in the waiting.

 

 

Sociolinguistics, Southerners and Social Status

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I am the first of my family to graduate from college, and one of a handful of my generation of cousins to finish college at all. I am also the first ever to hold a MA, though my sister is quickly finishing hers, and my daughters are planning to. To say the least, I was intimidated to go first. My father graduated from high school, but his mother didn’t, and my mother only finished 8th grade, because she had to drop out in order to help my grandparents support their large family, ten kids in rural Arkansas during the 1950s-60s. As a result, she was only qualified to work in the fields or in dangerous industrial plants. In Springdale, Arkansas during this time period, her choices were limited.

Reflecting on my own story, I began thinking about issues regarding the cleansing of Southern identity of female students in college as a whole, but as a writer and composition teacher, I decided to focus on how southern women work and are perceived in the composition classroom. Many feminist ideas regarding “othering/alienation” the enforcement of linguistic boundaries, and silencing can be extended to southern women within the composition classroom.

When I began exploring the scholarship regarding southern dialect’s perception in the classroom, I found that until the 1970s, the study of southern speak was not even considered relevant enough to be written about. Scholars such as Currie and Wolfram really opened up the study of dialects and their perception in a general way.

Currie, referred to as the “father of sociolinguistics” examines what he views as the neglect of the study of the “social significance of varying features of spoken English” (Currie 40). The author discusses Malinowski’s work with “phatic communion” whereby he separates the “stranger” and the “savage tribesmen” metaphor which attempts to explain the disconnect between those who understand the local dialect and those who do not. This explains, in a most basic way, how Southerners are distanced from the rest of the country as the “Other.”

He also examines McDavid’s idea regarding the phenomena within the Southern states that certain speech peculiarities lend to a “linguistically peripheral feature of a culturally peripheral group” which he asserts further ties this correlation to social status among those who share it. In other words, the Southerner, especially the rural Southerner, is not only regarded as distanced but at a lower social status than those who speak with a Northern or Western accent.

McDavid also focuses on some of the more “linguistically peripheral features of marginal cultured groups” (McDavid 41). In his article, he stresses for the “implications of dialectology for the more rational teaching of English” because language differences “create major obstacles to the educational, economic and social advancement of those whose true integration in to the framework of society is necessary if that society is to be healthy” and that “social dialects…both reflect and perpetuate differences in the social order” (49).

The author discusses the benefits of speaking without an accent” and how theoretically this is to be avoided by an “educated person” (51). However, McDavid argues that the study of dialects is important because it is unrealistic to expect that vernaculars will not likely dissipate.

He discusses an “amusing” example form Language Programs for the Disadvantages: Report of the NCTE Task Force,” from 1965 that perpetrates the idea of “disadvantaged” children speaking with a “non-standard English dialect” (51). McDavid does not support this idea, and in fact calls the study “distressing.”

In fact, he favors the idea that a “sophisticated” writer must accept and embrace dialects as an American way of life. McDavid’s work would be examined and reevaluated by many different scholars, but his work with dialects of the South proved groundbreaking in that before this time period the Southern accent was so disliked and mocked that most people did not consider it a topic of serious study. Why should Southern accents (or those who speak them) be taken seriously when the Southerner is the last politically correct American stereotype we can safely mock?

As a Southern woman, I find this idea distressing, especially when our speech is so closely entwined with our identity we cannot separate them.

Kenyon’s work with both “higher level” and “lower level speech” includes “narrowly local dialect” and “ungrammatical speech and writing” which is often seen among uneducated Southerners (Kenyon 31). Kenyon’s essay discusses the idea of the hierarchy of word choice, indicating that some words hold a loftier position socially than others, creating a “comparative degree of excellence or inferiority in language” (31). This assumption works against the Southern student hoping to elevate her degree of education. Coupled with the tired typecast Southern Bell who, bless her heart, can’t be expected to be pretty and smart, the Southern woman already has two strikes against her in the world of academia.

As a larger part of class study, Kenyon dissects this particular “false” judgment within the writing genre. Exploring cultural levels, the author touches on what is often labeled as the two classifications of speech, standard and substandard (31). Among these classifications, Kenyon includes “lower level speech” specifically: “Illiterate speech, narrowly local dialect, ungrammatical speech and writing, excessive an unskillful slang, slovenly and careless vocabulary and construction, exceptional pronunciation, and, on the higher level, language used generally by the cultivated, clear, grammatical writing, and pronunciation used by the cultivated over wide areas” (31). We understand that to be educated requires us to adapt a scholarly demeanor and style, but at what point does this encroach on who we are on a basic level? How much sanitizing is too much? When Southern women start out at a disadvantage, already striving to break free of socioeconomic norms and preconceived ideas regarding intelligence and identity, it’s no wonder that many struggle in the college classroom.

By explaining the categories of lower level and higher-level language, Kenyon goes on to define the principle of “culture and function” in word usage. He explains that the “functional variety formal writing or speaking may occur on a lower or on a higher cultural level according to the social status of [the] writer or speaker” (32). This article defends and explains the proper usage of colloquialisms and local dialect.

Kenyon’s work defends and explains the proper usage of colloquialisms and local dialect, which was unheard of before his time. At last, someone came forward to defend the legitimacy of Southern accents.

Works Cited

Currie, Haver C. “A Projection of Sociolinguistics: The Relationship of Speech to

Social Status. A Various Language: Perspectives on American Dialects. New

York: Holt, 1971. 39-47. Print.

Kenyon, John S. “Cultural Levels and Functional Varieties of English.” A Various

         Language: Perspectives on American Dialects. New York: Holt, 1971. 30-38.

Print.

McDavid, Raven I. “Sense and Nonsense About American Dialects.” A Various

            Language: Perspectives on American Dialects. New York: Holt, 1971. 48-65. Print.

Wolfram, Walt, and Natalie Schilling-Estes. American English: Dialects and Variation.

Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998. Print.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Help Your Kid Get More Sleep

Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas.

Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas.

 

Remember the good old days when all you had to do was say, “Ok kids! Bedtime!” and your kids would happily obey, their smiling faces hugging and kissing you goodnight? Me neither. This has never happened in the history of the WORLD. If you have the perfect family that is described in this scenario, I dare you to drive to Texas and tell me to my FACE.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but getting your teen to bed is sometimes just as hard as it was when he was little…and teens are way sneakier than their cute toddler counterparts.It’s time to get ready for school, and your Mancub is not cooperating. You knock gently, then louder, to only hear a muffled noise that resembles English but makes no sense. It’s happened again, hasn’t it? When our kids grow into teens, it’s more difficult to enforce rules like bedtime. They have after-school activities, chores, social media, and friends to distract them from getting the rest they need. What can we do to help them without it turning into a confrontation? Here are five of my best tips.

1. Make a no-electronics in the bedroom rule at bedtime. No computers, TV, or cell phones within reach after a certain time. This way, when other kids text or Skype your kid, he won’t even know … hopefully  because he’s sleeping. I found it so much easier to get Mancub to bed once I moved the computer to the study. No late-night gaming unless I know about it.

2. Cut off the caffeine. It’s ok to tell your kid that one soda a day is a limit. It will help your wallet, too.

3. Give your Mancub the tools for a good night’s rest. Make sure he has a good mattress and pillow available. If you need to, skimp somewhere else on your budget so you can afford it. Teens need between 9-10 hours a night to keep up.

4. Keep the pets out of the bed. It’s proven that we can’t sleep as well when we’re joined by our furry friends.

5. Cut off screen time for at least a half an hour before your kid goes to bed. It’s proven that playing video games or the use of electronics stimulates the brain and makes it harder to wind down.

Just talking about bedtime is making me sleepy. See how well this works?

Do you have any tried and true ways to get good rest? Please comment below.

Sleep Studies and Stephen King

I don't know what the Chinese says here--it might be something about the effects of bad tacos

I don’t know what the Chinese says here–it might be something about the effects of bad tacos

Last night I didn’t sleep in my own bed. I PAID MONEY to sleep in a strange environment with slippery plastic pillows and a giant crucifix over my head. Part of the all-inclusive experience was that a man I’ve never met put globs of glue all over my head and face and stuck electrodes on me. It reminded me of a spa visit I took last year. Not really.

Before you ask, I was stone cold sober. I was told by my doctor, who specializes in Sleep Medicine (as if THAT’S a real job) that I needed to come be … well, studied. The assumption is that I stop breathing at night. Now let me tell you something–I’ve gotten forgetful over the past years (3 kids, a night-shift job and 6 years of college will do that to you) but it’s pretty bad when you forget to breathe at night.

I’m also told I snore. On the trip to Shanghai last year, my roommate kept screaming at me to “STOP” all night. I just thought she was having a bad dream about her little brother pulling her hair so I didn’t let it bother me. Either that or that she was crazy, so I didn’t want to be stabbed in the middle of the night so I just kept my cool. Turns out I was snoring at approximately the same decibel of a jet taking off. So—rry! Get some earplugs and get over it. Just don’t stab me.

Anyway, it turns out snoring (especially when it’s loud enough to frighten wildlife and cause people to become psychotic) is a symptom of sleep apnea, which is very serious. I could die. And not by stabbing.

A very pleasant respiratory therapist came in to put the globs of glue on and to hook me up to 75 wires. Then, after I was hooked up and had achieved the same wild-eyed look as Sylvia Plath after electroshock therapy, they told me to go to sleep. They turned off my movie (the last few minutes of the Green Mile) which ticked me off. It wasn’t even bedtime! Just five more minutes, Mom! I love this movie. And it was the part where John Coffey (like the drink, but not spelled the same) was watching the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. I love that part! Stupid bedtime.

I know what you tired mothers are thinking. Wow, let’s listen to this woman cry about the fact that she was put in a quiet environment where she’s encouraged to SLEEP. Boo hoo! Next. Normally, I would agree with you. On any other day, I’d tackle the three old ladies in front of me like a wild linebacker just getting his chance to prove to the Coach that he’s worth his Wheaties.

Normally, I walk around in a continual twilight state of feeling as if I’ve been trampled by rabid antelopes in a Disney movie gone bad, so the opportunity to sleep always sounds good. Seriously. I have the energy of a ninety-year-old rock star who spent two decades partying and riding on buses all night–without the actual partying or buses, so believe me I want to slap me right now.

Did I mention that they put canula in my nose? I’m not sure what that was about. To hear my snoring? I’m sure that was SEXY. Did I mention the part where they use a night-vision camera to watch you all night in case you do something weird? Thank goodness they didn’t film me Wednesday night when I dreamed I was on an episode of  The Office and literally woke myself up (and The Engineer) laughing like a deranged hyena. That would have been a kick.

But I’m sorry–haven’t these people watched the Paranormal movies where putting a camera in the room automatically draws demons from miles around? Is that what they want? And believe me, they aren’t afraid of a little crucifix.

And guess what? There might be a part II to this blog entry because they said I am going to have to come back. I think I was just so entertaining that they are going to plan a staff party with me as the entertainment.

I’m so sleepy right now.

On Giants and Angels and Those Inbetween

I’m working on a new fiction project that makes it completely necessary to delve into Jewish mythology and to research giants and angels. Pretty sweet, huh?

Have you heard of Jewish legends? I hadn’t either until a couple of years ago. It makes sense though, when you think about it. If the Jews have been around as long as the Greeks and Romans, why wouldn’t they have their own legends and stories? It’s fascinating to me to read through these and find the line between what stories made it into the final Bible and which ones did not.

I’m currently looking at the link between giants and angels. I thought most people had heard the story of David and Goliath and the idea of giants in the Bible, but the more I talk about it the more I find people who have never heard these stories.

What a gold mine for a creative (and in my case, overactive) mind.

According to Jewish legend there was a period of time where angels came to earth to mate with the daughters of man, and the product of this union was…drum roll please…giants. No, I’m not advocating actual belief in the Jewish myths, any more than I would believe in Zeus or Athena. But this is interesting.

I’m not making this up! I swear. Look for yourself! The Bible mentions giants a couple of times, but the verses that are the source of the controversy are primarily the ones that some interpret similar to the Jewish legend. This particular verse is interpreted in many different ways, and some scholars get super offended when it’s brought up.

Genesis 6 1-4 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

If you start googling “where did the Giants come from” you will get all kinds of kooky stuff–even some references to UFOs.

Here’s what I found when I looked it up on Bible Gateway.

http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=giant&qs_version=KJV

This is the part where the Bible stops and the legends run wild.

Hank Hanegraaf of the Christian Research Institute discusses this verse here:

Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis is a noted scholar regarding Jewish mythology.

http://www.amazon.com/Geoffrey-W.-Dennis/e/B001HCUSFM

He writes,

A sense of dualism, stronger than what is found in the Hebrew Scriptures, starts to find expression in late antiquity and leads to angels being divided into camps of light and darkness, as exemplified by the angelology in the War Scroll and the Manual of Discipline found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The mythic allusion to the misadventures of the Sons of God in Genesis 6:2 becomes the locus classicus for this belief in evil angels. From The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism.

For some reason, I’m really feeling like watching Hercules.

Have you heard about Jewish mythology before now?

 

Who Knew Lemon Bars Were So Simple To Make?

These look freaking delish! Can’t wait to try it!

My Foray Into Food Storage

Before I being, a quick reminder: Today’s the last day to enter my May giveaway.  Click on this link to enter.

I work with the young women ages 12-18 at church, and, tonight, we’re having a special get together requiring yummy, dessert “finger foods.”  While I’m not sure if lemon bars qualify as “finger foods,” I don’t think anyone will complain.  I found this recipe online several years ago and added one simple thing (lemon zest) to make them truly special.  Here’s the recipe.

Super Delicious Lemon Bars! Super Delicious Lemon Bars!

Lemon Bars

Adapted from a recipe by Patty Schenck found here

Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Juice of 2 lemons (6 tablespoons, can use bottled lemon juice)

4 eggs

zest from lemons, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine…

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On Silencing, Southern Accents and Speaking Your Story

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“Let us listen for those who have been silenced. Let us honour those who have been devalued. Let us say, Enough! with abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding. Let us not rest until every person is free and equal. Let us be women who Love.” From Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women.

When the 1970s wound down to a close, feminist scholarship bloomed anew. Women who had previously felt unheard began making a lot of noise. Gloria Anzaldúa’s works Borderlands: The New Mestiza, “Speaking in Tongues” A Letter to Third World Women Writers” and This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color brought the plight of the displaced Chicana to the forefront.

Speaking to her hermanas, Anzaldúa implemented her viewpoint as both a lower-class Chicana and an academic to issue her battle cry against discrimination of those who “live on the border” (165). Anzaldúa’s works, which include academic essays and poetry, encourage women to write in any way they know how, reminding the reader that she need not be a scholar to put her words to paper and that her voice, uneducated or not, is both important and necessary.

This applies to women today as much as it did then. The voices of women and other marginalized people need to find the freedom that writing affords us. Your voice, your message, is important and deserves to be heard, regardless if I agree or not. We must teach our daughters, our nieces, our mothers how to speak their minds and refuse the silence. This is our calling and one of our our highest privileges of service.

Like Anzaldúa’s Mestiza who lives on the border between the United States and Mexico, I believe those of us who comfortably speak with a Southern accent within the university classroom find ourselves alienated and often judged. By referencing Anzaldúa’s work with the Other, Borderlands can be interpreted as a guide to the Southern working-class woman with an accent might experience when she attempts to return to college to learn academic speak and writing.

Anzaldúa’s work as a whole spoke to me on a personal basis, but specifically her goal to “break down dualities that serve to imprison women” (Anzaldúa 5). Speaking more figuratively than literarily, I felt that I was experiencing a kind of duality while I looked for my identity as both academic and reformed hillbilly. Shifting identity is a common theme within Anzaldúa’s work, and the New Mestiza never feels on solid ground, because she “migrates between knowing herself” and not knowing (7). While I love being a student and writing, a part of me feels as if I am being silenced when I must leave behind my native words, my native voice. Anzaldúa quotes Ray Gwyn Smith: “Who is to say that robbing a people of its language is less violent than war?” While academic work does not technically erase all traces of my dialect, the goal is there to do so.

So speak your voice, tell your story. We, your sisters, wait to hear your message. How will we know you if you do not share?

Raising Teens is Like a Roller Coaster Part II

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When the kids were babies, I remember thinking if I could just get to the next stage–which always seemed right out of reach–that I could make it. For example, when they were newborns, if I could just hold on until they slept through the night, I’d make it. When they made it to solid foods and I wasn’t breastfeeding every five minutes, things would calm down. When we were toilet training our youngest, when he didn’t need a car seat anymore, when they were all in school…someday.

I have good news and bad news.

The bad news: It never gets easier.

Never.

The good news: It’s the most thrilling ride you can imagine…and the most worthwhile. Everything you do, every click on the track–it  counts.

Raising kids always seems to reach a new stage of longing, of worry, of wonderful.

Sometimes, when we are on the way up that hill–we know one thing for sure: what comes up must come down.

Here are 3 more reasons why raising teens is like a roller coaster.

1. It will take your breath away. When you see the view from the top, and anything is possible–it’s both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. When my oldest daughter walked across the stage at her high school graduation, I felt my heart leap. It was a horrifying combination of joy and regret–pride and longing. Have we done a good job as parents? When will we know?

When I dropped my girls off at the dorm for the first time, and there was nothing to unpack but my heart, and my youngest daughter said, “Mom, do you want to spend the night with us?” I felt it. The uncertainty, the letting go–there’s not much that’s more difficult than this.

2. The speed that the future unfolds is deceptive. In the early morning hours when you’re wiping your toddler’s forehead, deciding if you need to go to the emergency room, time seems to stand still. When you’re in the thick of raising kids and you’re running from dawn to dusk, finding socks and signing permission slips and cleaning up spilled cereal and running out of bread and making cupcakes for the class, time seems to crawl, but don’t you believe it. It’s speeding by and gone before you know it.

3. When you think it’s over, it’s not. They don’t stop needing you when they graduate kindergarten, or high school, or college. They don’t stop needing you when they get engaged or married or divorced, or even when they become the ones wiping sweaty brows. There’s always a bit more–one more hill, one more dip, one more turn. Even when your Mancub is 6’4” with a size 16 shoe–guess what? He still needs you.

So buckle up, dear parent. The ride isn’t over yet. Isn’t it wonderful? There’s really nothing quite like it.

 

A Letter to My Daughter on Her Graduation Day

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My Dearest Daughter,

It’s hard to believe it’s already your graduation. It seems like just yesterday I was walking you into your first day of class.

I still remember your first day of kindergarten. Your blonde hair was pulled up in two ponytails, and you smelled of new clothes and bubble bath. You were so scared, you were shaking. Oh, wait, that was me.

Do you remember the advice I gave you? It’s funny how it still applies. It was something like this:

Be friendly to the other kids. They are nervous, too.

Play jump rope at recess. It’s good to get your heart pumping, and you will have at least two other girls to talk to.

Don’t throw away your sandwich and just eat the Twinkie. I will know.

Pay attention in class, mind your manners, and most importantly, don’t wait too long to go to the bathroom.

Don’t have secret friends or secret clubs. In general, don’t have secrets. If something feels wrong, it’s because it is.

Don’t volunteer to be the kid that takes names.

It’s nice to have a lot of friends, but don’t be close friends with people who have questionable character.

It’s true what they say: you can tell what kind of person you are by the friends you keep.

Don’t worry about stepping on cracks. I’ll be fine.

Don’t be too curious about the boy’s bathroom. Trust me, it’s not that great.

Sit in the middle of the bus. Sit too far in the front, and you are a nerd. Sit too far in the back, and you will learn another language. And it’s not Spanish.

If you have a substitute teacher, treat her with respect. Just because the other kids are swimming on the floor doesn’t mean you have to. It’s okay to be alone when you are right.

Don’t make fun of the weird kid. He has feelings, too.

Here are a few addendums:

Try to save some money. When rainy days come, they’re usually in the form of hurricanes.

Study hard. Don’t procrastinate. In case anyone tries to tell you otherwise, copying and pasting IS cheating.

Ramen noodles are not food. Ever.

Be as generous as you can with your time, your friendships, and your love. But at the same time, don’t be anyone’s doormat.

Don’t change yourself for anyone else. Who you are is fine. And don’t hang around with people who want you to change.

Don’t spend too much time trying to make someone love you. It should be easy. If they can’t appreciate the beauty of you, move on. You can’t make the blind see.

About love and marriage: don’t marry the one you can live with. Marry the one you can’t live without.

Decide what you love and do it. Don’t settle. This is success.

If you need help, ask. This goes for homework, bills, and personal struggles. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of wisdom.

Love with your whole heart, holding nothing back. Sometimes you will get hurt this way, but it’s the only way. Anything less is cowardly.

Your family loves you. No matter how far you go, you know the way home. Always.

Love, Mom

Read more like this in Tina’s new book Cold Coffee and Speed Limits available on Amazon!

Tina Book Cover