Home Schools

Yesterday we went to Washburn to register Zack for classes. Students are only allowed to miss 9 days a year of school, otherwise, I’ve been told, they will be held back. We home schooled him until now because we wanted to go to Australia, but a cross country drive taught us that we’re not ready for that, at least not right now.

Washburn is not the school I want my son attending, but it is our “home school.” (Also called “neighborhood school.”) As I walked through the halls with my husband and son, I didn’t see one other white person, the mingling students during pass time were Hispanic, Somalian, African-American, really every colour except white. That isn’t representative of this neighborhood!

I think the cheapest livable house within walking distance is $300,000, and the way Washburn throws free/reduced lunch forms at you and accosts you with services, they aren’t marketing that to the people in this neighborhood, where most people are college educated. The neighborhood immediately surrounding Washburn has $1.5-3M homes and I personally know five physicians who live in Tangletown.

So, we get there, and we schlep to the office. My hair is all sticking up and sticking out because I rolled outta bed ten minutes before our trek to the high school. Of course, it wouldn’t be a day in my life without someone looking at me all pie-faced, and yesterday was no exception. The office staffer stared at me and the fam as if we were mutants. We’re directed elsewhere and are escorted in to a room along with four people. Four people to register my kid, I’m thinking, but apparently this is because they think we are complete home school freaks.

The air is tense. The nurse is sitting to my right. The Dean of Students is sitting on the other side of Jon, who is next to me, on the left. The counselor is next to the nurse, directly across from Zack, and the woman at the head of the table is so unmemorable, I don’t remember her purpose. Perhaps to call a meeting of equally bewildered coworkers sucking off the public school teat, which amounts to about $19,000 per STUDENT in Minneapolis.

The question arises about our happiness with our home school and I mention that No, I’m not happy at all. I’d like my son at Southwest where his siblings attended school, but since this is our home school he has to attend this school. One of them asked, Why can’t your son attend Southwest? (Not like I didn’t all ready say why he was attending Washburn. Pay attention much? Please see original statement about bewildered coworkers.) It’s because his siblings are so much older than him that he is being penalized because my daughter graduated from high school in 2012 and her brother wasn’t ready to attend high school until 2014, he is unable to go there. The nurse, all blustery, asks, Why, is there a policy or something? (Goodness, you work for the district, shouldn’t you know the policy?) Yes, I say, there is a policy, you can only use sibling preference when the sibling is in attendance at that school.

I don’t have a problem with integration, I have a problem when the school district wants to lie about what a neighborhood school is and then bus in a whole bunch of kids that don’t have to follow the neighborhood school rule because their income allows them to go to school in a different neighborhood. The air is finally swirly in the room, no longer close, like someone took a big breath and let it all out, right in to the room. The nurse proceeds to tell me about their policy of not allowing medications in school, and tries to ask about Zack’s medical conditions and I say, We were at Holy Angels last year and before that Annunciation, plus this isn’t my first rodeo, I know I can’t have medications in school for my child, I’ve never home schooled… Oh well, the nurse interrupted, some people don’t understand that you can’t leave medications at school for their child and looked at me all dim-witted and blinking.

The Dean was nice enough but brought nothing to the table and finally left, after trying to make a push for Zack to run track. Definitely an A for effort kind of gal. Shortly afterwards, the nurse then fumbled with her chair and excused herself, perhaps finally realizing that she had no purpose there. The counselor and Zack and I started figuring out his schedule and he moved to sit next to the counselor.

In a flurry of anger and venom, the Safety Director rammed in to the room, sitting down next to Zack at the ned of the table. “We’re going to have a problem with Zack, and I don’t know if I even want him in my school.” I knew I was here for this, this little scene is why Jon needed me to be there. Oh do tell was the look on my face, and I asked the lion, Why? With a growl she yelled that she had heard that poor Matthias Pena, who committed suicide over the week-end, (See here for details: http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/detail/103079/?fullname=matthias-jacob-pena), was harassed by Zack on Monday, on his website. She had it on good authority that Zack had done this deed. From an administrator, not a student, she bombasted. Please! The administrator got it from whom? A student.

I broke in to song about Emme and Mia calling Zack a rapist since the beginning of the year. Ten months I’ve had to read nastiness from two gossiping teenage girls who have such claws I can only think the mums are the worst sort of mothers: ones that teach their daughters to be bitchy, gossipy, nasty little lying cunts. Six words, and on their own, the girl will turn out to be an okay woman, but all six together, there’s no chance for her, unless she can unlearn all the lessons she’s all ready learned from the women around her. Emme’s mum told Jon that she wanted Zack to go to jail because he broke her heart. Um. Wow. That’s someone that will lie about any thing to get her way. Daddy issues?

Me, I know about daddy issues, because I had them.

Pomposity nodded her head, exhausted. We talked after that, about Matthias and safety at school. She said she had cameras every where. Is that legal? Or is she lying because she wants you to be paranoid? I consider it just being on your best behaviour, but my kid went to Catholic school, he is usually behaving. We schlepped back to the office to be prodded with free/reduced lunch application forms, sent home with paperwork, including a plea letter for $25 to help them pay for copier paper and lend privileges for the calculators in the library. They honestly need a better accountant.

I respect the hell out of teachers, but they get vilified a lot; especially because of the Scott Walker teacher pension de-fund, and I think teachers are just like police, needed and not paid very well, so they need a pension.

20 Years of eBay

I haven’t written in a long time and I was thinking about people like Stapleman, who write a lot on Facebook as a status and in comments, they write so much they’d have a book out if they were more disciplined. Of course that whole discipline thing also affects me! I was on eBay, ready to list an item when I ended up on my second account; the “other” account. I looked at the number of feedback, 162, and noticed it hadn’t changed in over six weeks so I looked at my sales and was going to email the three people who refuse to leave feedback, but thought fuck them and decided to write a blog post instead.

Been selling on eBay 20 years now. My kids are 24, 21, and 15. I’ve been working the week-end estate sale cum flip her on eBay since I can sit on it longer than an estate sale company game for-ever! My life used to be wakeup-bathe-smoothie-work-pickupkidsatschool-work-makedinner-work-eatdinner-work-checkhomework/fuckhusband-work-read-think-wakeup-sleep-read-write|think-sleep-wakeup-sleep There was never any time for any thing else, like writing every day and post cancer my schedule looks like: wakeup-smoothie-bathe-read-think-read-think-cook-bake-think-read-laundry-think-makedinner-think-read-eatdinner-watchtv-read-sleeplikethedead

What is it with some people that have no manners on eBay? You get the item, you like the item, leave fucking feedback within a month of purchase. This isn’t rocket science! This is manners! Someone sold you something from their personal trove of items, it has a history, and you can’t be bothered to thank the person that sold it to you? Now, if I had 15,674 feedback, instead of 3251, then don’t bother, because I’m automated!

Let Me Get This Off My Chest By Margaret Lesh

The book blurb was good, so I took this book out of the library. Supposedly this woman is a writer, but I read and am also a published author and had never heard of her. Tamoxifen hot flashes, mastectomy, reconstruction, breast cancer etiquette, Frankenboobs, bras with special attachments—Margaret Lesh shares all in her funny, heartfelt collection of essays, anecdotes, and life lessons from the perspective of a two-time breast cancer survivor. She’ll tell you when it’s okay to play the cancer card, what you should take to the hospital, and gives suggestions on how to cope in those dark moments of the soul. With practical tips sprinkled throughout, LET ME GET THIS OFF MY CHEST explores how breast cancer changed her outlook on life, offering honest insights, humor, and sensitivity as she looks for the silver lining in a not-so-great situation. Whether you are a woman diagnosed with breast cancer or whether you know someone with breast cancer, this book was written for you.

Ms. Lesh takes a sensitive subject and shares from her personal experience with sincerity and lots of humor. I appreciated her attitude which seeks the “silver linings” while dealing with the stark realities of diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Ms. Lesh was only 34 in 1999, with a two year old son, when she felt a lump and they discovered cancer. She had a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. Because the cancer was stage 1A, chemotherapy was not recommended at that time. After the radiation treatments she was prescribed medication for five years and celebrated when she could throw those bottles away. Although many years passed successfully, Ms. Lesh was one of the unfortunates who had a recurrence after 11 years so her story continues with more aggressive treatment. The second time around she had to make more difficult decisions and treatment that included chemotherapy so she shares those experiences as well.


This book has wonderfully upbeat quotes at each chapter which I find encouraging. There are many good resources shared and specific tips that I have already used and know I will be referring to as my own treatment proceeds. The chapters are short and focus on specific events, decisions or treatments so it is easy to look up certain sections to refer back to. Cancer, like most diseases, impacts upon close family and friends as well as the individual. There are chapters in the book that give insight to friends and family on the fears and emotions that are being experienced and shared.

This is a quick, informative and easy read. It is comforting even though there is anxiety and sadness shared. I think a big part of cancer treatment focuses on faith and hope which Ms. Lesh conveys throughout, even through the stumbles of fear and depression that are natural. The book confirms something I have quickly learned through friends and on-line cancer boards. The diagnosis and treatment are unique for each individual, but we all share a common bond and can be helpful and supportive to others as well as accepting help and support graciously for ourselves. I recommend this book to any woman facing their own cancer journey and to those who wish to be supportive and understand more clearly what the patient is going through.

Cancerous Spit-fire

Comments from my last cancer post:

Missy, You sound so much more like yourself today. All organized & coming out swinging! Congratulations & thank you for posting.

You are a spit-fire.. Love it!!!!! I can feel the great energy from this post!! xoxo

Why can’t you have any cider? [Because your tastebuds are shot, they are fast growing cells.] Yeah I know the tastebuds get really affected by all the drugs. My friend’s wife doesn’t drink any alcohol at all now (got to be 5 yr cancer free now). He’s pleased, he drinks all the beer, she drives him home! Unfortunately my team manger at work is diagnosed with bowel cancer and is waiting to get all his treatment plan etc. I am at an age now where I am getting more contact with this disease and this will only increase, which is not great!

Now, forward… I really liked MBW’s comment about coming out swinging, it made me smile and I realized she was right. That is so me and I like that about myself! The visit with Howard went swimmingly and while I am nervous about the bi-lateral, I feel like I am in good hands with Howard. I’m still sitting on the fence for reconstruction. Wilke is in place and he said the woman that told me I’d be in ICU if I did reconstruction must have had a bad surgeon or a seriously messed up infection. Wilke said that bmx and reconstruction would be no more difficult than the tummy tuck in 2008 and Howard said, “This will probably be LESS painful and problematic for you than the abdominoplasty.” Armed with that information, I wipe sweat from my brow. Howard said just bmx one day in hospital, add reconstruction two days and they will do prophylactic dosing of antibiotics since I am prone to infection. Now just have to re-write my DNR and get that to Fairview.

Howard said that we could lop off my breasts the first week of May and I’d be drainless and able to sit through Mass and Graduation at the beginning of June. This all assumes that my blood work is fine two weeks after the last Taxol infusion. But since the only reason I’m even finishing Taxol is to get rid of the offending body part and her future partner in crime, I am happy to do it.

I’ve also found a men’s group for Jon that starts in four weeks in Highland and we’re scheduled to see a Psychiatrist who focuses 95% of her practice on oncology patients. I look forward to a therapist that gets it and can help Jon and I.

Great to see Nina and be brought a Green Mill Spinach & Garlic Stuffed Pizza last night. Then Earl came over. I have been breathless and hacking green stuff so Merlin gave me a Z-Pack that I started this morning. I’m looking forward to feeling less ill soon.

Tomorrow is Nutrition for a Cancer Diagnosis at Pathways, chemo and then the new Palliative doctor through Fairview. Thanks to Kathy for the Vitamix. I am excited to be blending more than ever!

Switching Oncologists

Due to all the nagging that I go back to chemo, I switched oncologists. This one doesn’t have slapstick humor like Bloom, which in all honesty I can’t stand. Life is too short to think I’ll be seeing the same oncologist for ten years (knock on wood) and have to fake laugh when I don’t think he’s funny. He’s an amazing doctor, as doctor’s go; Merlin is better, but Merlin and I have similarities. Bloom and I do too, but he’s cagey and tells half-truths.

I was at Tiffany’s kvetching to Sandee (or Sandy) as I bought Miriam’s Valentine’s Day gift. She saw Bloom for the same reason I did: MOT; and she switched to Zander. So MOT doesn’t hold much water these days. Sigh.

Dr. Huang is semi-truthful. We think that lies and oncology go hand-in-hand. Without a PET/CT scan I’m now at 50/50 and I met a woman who was 3C IBC eight and a half years ago! I’m still a bit sad and feel isolated, and am busy taking out all my angst on poor Jon who doesn’t deserve it, but I’ve made calls for cancer therapists. I have also connected with an IBC group. It’s women who are in various stages of treatment as well as survivors all over the world, and these women have saved my bloody sanity lately.

Yesterday was Taxol and pre-meds. Those drugs make me feel exhausted. I’m prostrate Wednesdays, which are Taxol days, until Sunday. I was poked four times before they got in the IV yesterday. I was quiet, it hurt like hell, and I just can’t seem to get away from how much I hate seeing needles. Hypnosis?

I ADORE the Edina office of MN Oncology. Better skullcap hats. Great snacks. Nurses who don’t chitchat you up when you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to discuss your bowels, symptoms, or anything else personal with anyone but your physician or her nurse. A bonus, a former trainer who retired with a pension from ING who does neuropathy no-charge massages for your feet. It kept us a bit longer yesterday, but Jon was working, and we were in a room with a door because they were packed in the main infusion room. Julie was marvelous! I loved connecting with her about our tragically marginalized talents. Ha.

Taxol side affects besides several days fatigue and not sleeping much because of pre-meds are: left foot neuropathy (the side of the traitorous breast), edema, hand swelling and arthritic-type pain. I now have to do warm-up exercises and have been in too much pain to type much. For some reason I’ve been getting random migraines around Taxol time as well. Those are something I know what to do about though.

So, nine more weeks of Taxol. See my surgeon on Monday and ask Howard a bazillion questions. Have left message for Wilke, my plastic surgeon, to talk reconstruction and how much will lipo cost to counter fill and while I’m there I have moles on the back of my neck that I want removed.

Applying for grants because this has been an expensive four months!

I’m off strong pain meds. Breast pain is way better.

With a nod to Nina for a week worth of lasagna last week, and all the Annunciation mums: I could NOT do this without all you marvelous women that are helping us with food. A special thanks to Shelly for watching Zack so we could go to Chi for a short break too. You save us all from chronic take-away; which would mean I wouldn’t be back to a solid size 10 and only 15# from goal weight. Jon’s down 15# too! Eating better every day feels amazing even if I do miss my friend Strongbow.

Beginning of January 2014

Today was chemo, but my neutraphil levels are low so the plan is Neupogen shots and then chemo. I had a shot today. I will have one tomorrow and one on Monday and Katy hopes my levels are good on Tuesday so I can have chemo. That delays the bi-lateral another week. We’re slowly creeping up on not enough time for surgery and some modicum of recovery before Zack’s 8th grade graduation. Mon Dieu!

I have chemo-induced neutropenia. Neutropenia means I have abnormally low blood levels of infection-fighting neutrophils, a specific kind of white blood cell. Neutropenia increases your risk of bacterial and fungal infections.

Our crazy friend Todd said: “You are in control of your mind body and spirit and cancer can go to hell!
Be the best you can be and live knowing love is all around you……..” He’s had it rough with his mom dying hours after his grandma in 2013. Since Noel always needs MBW to speak for him, this is what she’s said: “Missy, Stay strong & know that even though we’re not in town we’re thinking about you & sending prayers & good thoughts your way.”

The Neupogen shot gave me unbelievably excruciating pain. For days my skull, spine, legs, arms, pretty much everywhere, hurt with a stabbing pain that made me cry out. Neupogen or Neulasta is designed to “squeeze” the white blood cells from our bone marrow, and this is why I am having bone pain. The skull is where the biggest source of bone marrow comes from, and is why I had excruciating skull pain.

I spoke to Becky to change my shot times, because while on Methadone I cannot drive, and Jon asked Katy to schedule my shots late in the day so he could go to work, but apparently she wasn’t paying attention because she scheduled my shots at 1300-1315 every day for two weeks. I called and tried to reschedule and they told me I had to speak to Katy, so I called Becky. She said, “I really need you to make it to your shots because you need to have chemo. Chemo is really important Michele.” I replied, “I have gone to all my appointments, I know chemo is important.” Becky countered with, “I know you know, I just worry about you.” That statement is maddening! Then she lectured me about calling someone else within Minnesota Oncology, as if it was imperative I speak with this person immediately. I have no idea how other people managed having all these cancer care people dictating their lives when they had cancer, because I’m only just shy of ten weeks since dx and I’m going crazy!

At the end of January I had a fever that fluctuated between 100.7F and 102.2F. Yesterday was Taxol and a new nurse because Bloom was out of town, Becky was off, and Katy was working at Abbott to fill in for an RN that couldn’t get to work. Chara was atrocious. I asked about the edema, aching as well as pins and needles in my handles that make it difficult to type and cook and perform a myriad of other tasks. (I’m glad to see she put her vocabulary word to use in her suicide note.) Chara told me to stop eating salt. I don’t eat any bloody salt. She said, “There are hidden places of salt. Like canned soup. Do you eat canned soup?” I said, “I don’t eat canned anything. I haven’t eaten canned anything in years. I make all my own meals. I get migraines from pre-packaged foods. She said, “Oh.” And the subject was dropped. Let it suffice it to say the visit was awful.

I interviewed a new therapist. She interrupted me. Constantly. I didn’t get what I needed from that, so I’m going back to my old therapist temporarily. I have classes scheduled at Pathways. Healing Touch. Meditation. Qigong. Tai Chi. Yoga. Pilates. The steroids in the pre-meds make me crazy so I was up until 830AM and finally fell asleep. I have made the decision to quit chemo. I’m sad. But I can’t be a sheeple. I don’t plan on dying. I have decided to pursue alternative treatments.

We’re off to Chicago if someone can watch Zack. I desperately need a break from doctors, nurses, and everything that goes along with the hell that is cancer. I swear they give you chemo not to save you but to get you so sick that you beg for death.

Anxiety Tribe

A GF showed me an online therapy group. I read a bunch yesterday as a non-memebr. They should fix those permissions.bI’m an anxious person. There have certainly been times in my life where I have wanted to pull a Sylvia Plath, definitely not a Virginia Wolff, albeit I do like water. That being said, today has been the shit phone call and email day.

I’m interviewing for a new contract. I’m a consultant. I am a published author. I would even be considered a workaholic. I am a passionate reader and a voracious consumer of films. I’m a media whore. I’m also super OCD about money. My Nana kept a journal until I was in my mid-30s. She actually may have kept it longer, she just didn’t talk about it to me. She taught me how to make money in the stock market. She was super smart, she was a shrink. She’s dead and I miss her all the time.

So, yesterday I was talking to a GF outside a building and I saw a penny in this snow bank between the sidewalk and the street. I scrutinized it. It was heads up. I thought, Cool. Good luck. Heads up goes in my left shoe. Tails up goes in my wallet. Tails is just money to me, not luck. I dug the penny out of the snow and put it in my knee-high boots. I was not wearing socks. The penny was cold. But it was a Good Luck Penny so I accepted the minor burning on my foot from G-d only knows what is put on the streets + the snow.

After my appointment I went to try and find my son at school. If I didn’t find my kid and take him out for a meal I was going to send a nasty email to my Mother because she was a rude bitch to me on Tuesday.vI couldn’t find my kid because he never answers his mobile. So, I went and hung at the library and the market. I found my kid at home and we went up to the University and had a meal at an Irish Pub. We also went to a bookstore. I checked in on 4sq and they had a Special! If you spent $10, you received three sticks on incense. I was actually buying this incense that works really well for my migraines. It’s hand-made! It smells of luscious lavender and is about $1 a piece, but comes in packages of 20.

My 13 year old and I browsed while a couple of women checked out. We went to the counter and I said, “I have a 4sq check-in special for these three pieces of incense. Do you want to see the Special?” I had my phone out, ready to go to the screen that had the Special on it. The clerk said, “No, I don’t need to see it, because none of our customers would say anything like that.”

OK. Whatever. It was incense my kid picked out and it was for him. Mid-transaction a guy came over to the register guy and said, “I’ll finish ringing this up so you can take your phone call.” Guy says, “I have a phone call? I’ve rang up these items,” gesturing to all the incense. That left three books.

I paid with my CC. We left. I got home. I unloaded my groceries. I took out my books and showed my DH the books. We talked about the books. Hours later I looked over the receipt. The new register guy had charged me for the three sticks of incense. I told my DH I was calling in the morning to get a credit for 87 pence, which was the incense + tax.

I got off the phone with the book store right before I started this post. The guy on the phone was incredulous that I was asking for a refund of 87 cents. I was super calm and polite. He proceeded to tell me what an impossible, upset customer I was, and I was thinking, Geez, I’m not upset. If I was upset I’d be yelling. He went on a tirade and I ignored him and kept saying “Sir.” After eight Sirs, he asked, “What?”

I told him that I was not upset, I just wanted my money back, and that if I was upset I’d be yelling. He told me I was crazy and he’d give me $2.00 back on my CC because I was insane. What bugs me about this exchange is, why couldn’t he just refund my money and if he thought I was crazy, just say to a co-worker, after we got off the phone, “You will never believe this crazy bitch that just called and wanted 87 cents back on her CC.” That would have been totally copacetic to me. But no, he had to call me names!

I believe that money is supposed to be respected. If you respect money, then money will flow to you. This prompted my post, and saying that may be I am OCD about money. This realization bothers me. I’m all ready a complete worrier. Now I’m OCD about money?

Salut: A Parasole Restaurant Holdings, Stinks

13 November 2013 this was my diary entry, and I wonder why I got Stage 3C cancer? Not a surprise after reading this. I had completely forgot about that awful lunch at Salut. Here goes:


I’ve had wicked headaches this week and anaphylactic shock. I bought bagels on Sunday. I asked the clerk what was in the day olds, and she said Sun dried tomatoes and thyme. I bought two sixers.

Monday night I ate a bagel with cream cheese and lox. I woke up very early Tuesday and was super itchy. By Tuesday night my entire back was covered in hives and they had started in on my neck, chest, stomach and buttocks. Then yesterday my lymph nodes exploded. I ended up in the ER with my throat closing and an IV drip of saline and steroids. Then I was given Prednisone to take home for four days. Bloody bagels have walnuts in them!

DH and I went to lunch. The woman behind the bar was super rude and I was tense and became shrill and irate when I explained four times that I KNEW what a Ploghman’s Lunch was as I had lived in France and can you not hear me? By the fourth time I am practically screaming at this woman! DH was all confused because woman had grabbed away the menu we had, ignored his question about the price of the Ploughman’s and walked off.

So, I’m angry and anxious and shaking; I want to leave. DH is confused. She came back called me a bitch and said she wouldn’t wait on us. Manager came over and brought someone that had waited on us before, or so he said. We hadn’t been to this restaurant in at least two years. Dirk was very nice. Schmoozy. Super great service. Manager apologized, and during his apology the original woman started talking over him. He turned and gave her a look I could not see.

She continued to come near us and bang about, staring at me until I looked away with hatred in her eyes. I was in TEARS! I’m sitting in a restaurant CRYING! I’m mortified.

We were moved. AGAIN. She did stay away from our table this time. They comped out our lunch and Dirk gave us oodles of goodies. Baguettes to take home, a desert we didn’t ask for, etc.

I feel so frustrated. Ever since I pretty much gave up drinking alcohol and weaned off Xanax I feel nuts. I had been on Xanax for almost 18 years. It took me six weeks to wean off my four 1 mg a day pills. But now I’m anxious, not all the time, but I’d say 75% of the time.

I have interviews for work. I’m travelling the next two weeks. Next week to Chicago for St. Paddy’s Day craziness + friends and the following week to LA to see friends. I’ve paid for our hotels, and the flight to LA in advance. Now I’m panicking! I don’t know if I want to go! I can barely handle thinking about interviews next week. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get to them. I’m completely freaked out. OK, I feel like 2% better now. Sigh.

The Hundred-Foot Journey By Richard C. Morais

I live in a city filled with Muslims. They never bothered me when I was in Morocco, but here in the states, in full cover, almost hitting me with their car bothers me. Then I go to London and I see the Islamist Fundamentalists screaming for the death of the Jews with a protest off Bond Street and I realize that Muslims hate Jews with a passion. This book is about a Muslim, but devout he is not. He is devoted to food instead. The smells of Tumeric and Curry, Garam Masalam, and Chia Tea. The wonderful smells of an Indian Muslim in Bombay. Not an angry Islamic man, these are people who keep their daily prayers, in they do them at all, to themselves. Religion did not play a role in this book, and for that I was glad. The book is about journeys and food.


Morais creates a rich, imagery-filled culinary world that begins in Bombay and ends in Paris, following the life of Hassan Haji as he, eventually, becomes a famed Parisian chef; after losing those closest to him. Mde. Mallory, his father, and many others. It’s first person narration, by Hassan, with the story beginning with his grandfather starting a lunch bucket service in Bombay on the eve of WWII. Then a small restaurant to go along with the lunch delivery service, which his father later inherits. When Hassan’s mother dies, after her and Hassan going to a French restaurant in Bombay, which ignites something in him for French food later in life, the family is distraught.

The Haji’s do not fit in to the new caste system of India, and they are not devout Muslims, so they are shoved out of the country taking a mush needed sojourn through Europe. This is a tasting fest the family takes with three packed Mercedes limo’s, after a brief two years of father Haji’s telly-inducing depression in England.

The car sputters out in the quaint French alpine village of Lumière. There, the family settles, bringing Indian cuisine to the unsuspecting town, provoking the ire of Madame Mallory, an unpleasant and angry but extremely talented local chef.

A fight between the all ready established Mde, Mallory’s restaurant and Papa Haji is hysterical, poignant and sad; especially when Mallory decides who she really is, in a roadside church, where she prays. She discovers that she was nice once, but that her behavior against the Haji’s has been atrocious. This is when she decides to take Hassan on as an apprentice. She has tasted his soup, and she knows beyond a reasonable doubt that he has the thing that so few chefs have: innate talent.



There is beauty in each the wrapping of mutton at the butchers in Bombay, English chippy carts, French markets and restaurant kitchens; and then the lively loud, sometimes yelling, Haji family, who you instantly fall in love with because they are real. Morais is a engine story teller. I don’t his writing in Forbes, because I don’t read Forbes all that often, but he has a genuine talent to make even this lover of food and culinary whiz, start trying new recipes!

After Mde. Mallory dies around the time of his father’s death by chicken bone, Hassan is lost, he is afloat. The book is also lost and afloat for a small section too. I don’t know if that was deliberate, but almost done with the book, I had to put it down because it became boring. Then he brings in the recession, the VAT problems in France, new and interesting tidbits of a worker scamming him because of France’s employment laws, and the book is back on track moving forward to, we hope, Hassan’s third Michelin star. The finale is Margaret coming back in to his life that he shares with his clucking spinster sister, and it has just been announced that he was awarded the third star.

Many good things to say about this book, and I can’t imagine that some people on Amazon gave it two stars. This is a five star book. The graphic story of being settled, then wandering, and settling a second time, and then finally a third, in France, not just described multiple continents and countries, but unforgettable cuisine and interesting characters. And through this narrative we get to smell, taste and even picture ourselves making this boule, or that duck. It wasn’t just other chefs, or just the Michelin third star; Hassan grew up before our eyes in The Hundred-Foot Journey. He finally learned how to trust himself and his staff as his craft.



@krautgrrl says that this is a book to be savored, embraced, and cherished.  Re-read it some day, but buy it soon, as it is worth the money!


Ember Island by Kimberly Freeman

Eleanor aka Nell, Nina Jones grandmother, are a century apart in time, but both are writers. Nell grew up on imaginary Ember Island, similar to Moreton Bay, outside of Brisbane. In the late 1800s Matilda Kirkland, after her beloved grandfather dies, follows her new husband, Jasper, to Guernsey in the Channel Islands to take up life as a wife and all that entails. Only, when Tilly arrives, nothing is as it seems, as Jasper bilks her of her minimal property, and then she discovers a plan where his mistress and he were planning on killing her.

Tilly’s horrific marriage ends when Jasper and his mistress are burned alive in a house fire; the fire that was meant for Tilly. Fleeing to the farthest place she knows, Tilly takes a job on Ember Island where she becomes the governess to Nell, who is the only daughter of the prison superindent. Tilly tries to keep her past hidden in order to start a new life, but she doesn’t know that Nell is watching her every move and writing it all down, hiding tiny journals all over their rambling manor home.

More than one hundred years later, bestselling novelist Nina Jones is struggling to complete her next book. After running in to her ex-husband and his impregnated new partner, she runs to her grandmother’s home on Ember Island. Nina cannot have children and that simple thing made her husband leave her in the lurch. As she struggles to write her fourth book, it comes to light that a reporter is searching for information regarding her current book.

The current books is a series about a 12th Century English woman who turns in to a sleuth. Nell actually came up with the idea and her books were rejected. Nina uses her grandmother’s idea and they are success! The books sell like hot cakes. But as the reporter comes closer to unveiling the truth about her literary success, she’s embroiled in a romance with a Shark PhDer, and also enjoying the company of his son.


The book was well-written, but not a literary genius type of book. More like a fun book to read to take your mind off of something for an afternoon. That being said, I enjoyed Nell and Tilly’s stories much more than Nina’s story. Nina came across whiney, ditzy and a huge complainer. Ultimately, this is a romance, and I always find romances boring, so I can say with veracity that the prison and some of the prisoner’s escape plans are some of the best reading,

@krautgrrl says that this is a page-turner, but not much substance, besides a couple of twists in regards to a prisoner’s attempted escape.