Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ella's Bookshelf - Cassie's Road Trip

Reading has been a passion for me since I was 6 years old.  I devoured books night and day, and nothing was quite like my love of series books - The Bobbsey Twins, The Five Little Peppers, Cherry Ames, Ramona Quimby, The Borrowers, and The Boxcar Children.  But the undisputed favorite would have to be Nancy Drew.  If it was summertime, I could finish one a day.  Still have a few of my originals with my name printed inside the front cover.

How can you get in trouble for reading at school?  I managed it.  I would position the book just inside the top that lifted up on my desk or even on my lap.  Would pretend to be looking at my math book or a handout on diagramming sentences, but I was really engrossed in whatever book was my latest obsession.  Nuns did not like this deception one bit.

If you never read Nancy Drew as a girl, she was an independent teen who, along with her best friends, George and Bess, solved mysteries.  In book after book, this girl detective gets herself into scrapes and back out again.  George was an outspoken tomboy who was my favorite character, at least during the period of my childhood when neither cleanliness nor godliness were of interest to me.  Bess was much more delicate and feminine, but just as smart.  They were a powerful threesome, and I was a devoted fan.  Certainly, I read my favorites over and over , even when I knew every plot twist.

Well, I am grown up now (sort of), but my reading habits haven't changed much.  (I do bathe more willingly.)  I still love a series of books with an intelligent and clever lead character.  Even better is a series that includes a heroine who ends up over the knee of the man she loves.  You probably know where I am going with this.  I discovered PK Corey's Cassie books several years ago, and Cassie has brought me great happiness from the very first read.  Today I will offer a book review of the 9th book in the series.

Title:  Cassie's Road Trip

Author: PK Corey

Publisher: Blushing Books 

Number of Pages:  156

Themes: Love and Friendship, Adventure, Crossing the Line, Paying Your Dues

Setting:  Cassie and Tom's river home, the highways and tourist stops of the Southwest USA

Main Characters:

  • Cassie - I have described Cassie in so many ways in previous book reviews, but for Book 9 I will say she is a woman who meets life with both barrels.  Cassie is the lovable heroine who shares her life with a husband she worships.  To continue with the shotgun reference, in this book we see our Cassie as an accomplished markswoman.  While she is not always a "straight shooter" with Tom about her activities, she has a heart that is true blue and right on target.

  • Tom - What new could I tell you about Tom?  Well, I might say he is the sheriff in Cassie's life.  He is always the calm, loving  man who expects law and order in his home.  When Cassie chooses to ignore his guidance, there is always a penalty to face.  We don't hear much about Tom's shooting skills in this book, but, believe me, with Cassie over his knee, Tom can hit his mark and never misses. 

  • Sue and Annie - Just like Nancy Drew has her George and Bess, Cassie has Sue and Annie.  These 2 best friends have been close to Cassie for half a century!  They share each others' joys and sorrows.  They love their girls' trips, too!  Annie usually shows more common sense than Cassie and Sue.  The Road Trip is no exception.

  • Ryan and Allie - Ryan is Tom and Cassie's adopted son, and Cassie surely loves to hear him call her "Mom."  Ally is the special girl that Ryan loves.  Cassie loves her, too, and takes great satisfaction that she introduced the two.

  • Lily - is the most recent member to join the families on the river.  To say she is the "housekeeper" does not nearly describe her importance in the hearts of everyone who knows her.  She is very protective and loving to her people.     

Over the series, the number of main characters has grown steadily - Cassie's "family" as she calls them.  This book begins with a chapter to introduce them to any reader not familiar with the series.  Those of us who know this family well are just welcomed back to this loving circle.  I don't know how PK did it, but my favorite quote of the whole book is smack dab on the first page.

Cassie describes her best friends, Sue and Annie, as "my sisters for more than fifty years..."  Cassie is not exaggerating when she relates, "They each own a part of my heart."  I loved this tender description of Sue and Annie for several reasons.  First, she refers to them as "sisters."  It rang so true for me after I thought about how I felt meeting my "Beach Sisters" in June.  So amazed at the bond that formed over those 4 days.  We were all taken aback just a bit.  I was surprised that these women could see right through to my soul.  For me the experience was repeated in the UK - a strong feeling of sisterhood and instant affection and empathy.  The author seemed to capture the essence of that in just a few words, and I was so impressed. 

Then, too, I have come to love this character very much.  If I could choose a "sister," it would be Cassie.  I love her loyalty and zest for life, her sense of humor, and, above all, her honesty.  Let me explain this better.  While Cassie may fudge a little (or a lot) with telling Tom the "whole" story, she is, at heart, completely honest in her feelings and loves unconditionally.  I often I love PK so much because of Cassie or do I love Cassie because of PK being such a special friend.

Sam's lap is my favorite spot to sit, so I appreciated that Cassie chose lap-sitting with Tom to start laying the plans for the ultimate girls' trip.  Allie almost jinxes the whole caper by landing herself in a terrible situation at a wild party.  Cassie worries herself to distraction about Allie and how her son, Ryan, will react.  After agonizing about this, Cassie is so astounded at the good news the young couple brings her, that she is actually speechless.  Can't remember when that has happened before!

Goodness knows, even before the road trip, Cassie was quite busy getting up to her usual tricks.  Even though she refers to it as a "secret," she knows Tom would never approve.  Without giving away too much of the story, I have to tell you about Cassie and her shooting.  Remember in a previous book, we saw Tom give her a shotgun for her birthday.  She, Sue, and Annie start going to the local range, and Cassie is encouraged by some range regulars to try pistol shooting as well.  She is quite the marksman and gets carried away with it.  You know Cassie; she loves attention.

I love shooting with Sam, and we go out together when I can.  It is great fun, and I am always proud when I have a good day.  Sam is an excellent and patient teacher.  Always safety first, he also corrects my grip and stance when shooting handguns.

Through a series of hilarious events, Cassie ends up with her own Taurus pistol.  I would like to try one of those; titanium makes for a lighter piece of weaponry.  That Taurus becomes a critical part of the story as the Road Trip progresses.  And we all know, Tom "always finds out."

Before the girls leave, Tom decides to lecture Cassie while she is over his knee.  Cassie says that Tom believes "a stinging bottom helps me listen better."  Tom just wants her safe and back home soon, and one of the cardinal rules is to call him once a day.  When Cassie calls from the Grand Canyon, Tom tells her, "My bed's lonely and so's my heart."  Gosh, what a pretty way to tell a wife she is missed!  I know we have our Tom haters out there, but not me.  That man is so romantic; count me among his fans.

The road trip starts in California and the girls are so excited.  When Allie begs to hear more of Cassie's stories, little does she know that they are about to have an adventure that scares them all right down to their toes.  It begins happily around the pool with lots of wine and laughter.  Soon, though, they run into something and someone more sinister.  Cassie forgets Tom's rules and only remembers in the nick of time and is able to rescue one of the her girls.  The adventure turns into a nightmare in a small Texas town, and this story ends with the guys rushing in to bring everyone home safely.

Tom is not only scared for Cassie's safety, but angry at the secrets she has kept from him.  Once the fun and the drama, too, are over, it is time to face the music.  There are several monumental spankings, and Cassie still dreads the finale.  I will bring this review to a close with a snippet about a spanking that positively took my breath away.  To her surprise, Tom does not reach for the hairbrush, but slowly pulls his belt through the loops.  Cassie says she has a "love/hate" relationship with Tom's belt.  There is fear but also "longing and lust that overwhelms."  He starts with his hand and leaves his belt on the bed so close to Cassie's face that she can smell the leather.  Oh my, I say.  I do so agree.  There is just something so incredibly sexy about it.  PK, in 9 books, this is my favorite spanking scene ever.  Well done.

Just so you know, I reread my Cassie books often, just like Nancy Drew so long ago.  Nancy had her George and Bess.  Cassie has her Sue and Annie.  When Cassie's Road Trip first came out at the end of August, I became quite ill while overseas.  Cassie was a comfort to me, and, by the time I arrived home, I'd read it four times.  There were even times I started laughing right out loud, and boy, did I need to laugh.  At the end when Cassie tries to argue with Tom about returning her pistol to her, I absolutely fell apart when he said,

                              "Allow me to introduce myself.  
                           I'm your husband, and I'm the boss.  
                                       Pleased to meet you." 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cry Me a River

Lately, I have cried so many tears, poor Sam has probably thought about purchasing flood insurance.  One day when I had turned on the water works yet again, I started to think about why we cry and reasons why it happens.

Tears are unique to humans.  Other animals may wail or howl or whimper, but human beings are the only animal that sheds tears.  We start early.  As soon as we are born, we can cry, although this is in an instinctual way to communicate and call for help.

While non-emotional tears keep the eyes lubricated and wash out irritants like dust on a windy day or the acidic gas released into the air when you slice an onion, emotional tears can start to fall for a variety of reasons.  Women cry more than men - about 5 times as often.  I believe that, and so would Sam!

Think of the joy you felt when you held your infant for the first time.  When you finally hug a loved one after a long separation .  When you unexpectedly walk into a surprise party full of friends and family.  I remember getting tears in my eyes when I finally met some dear fellow bloggers this year.  Joyful tears may make your mascara run, but you're just too happy to care.  Goodbyes can also involve tears, but can be much harder.

Other welcome tears can occur with prolonged laughter.  Just last night I got to teasing Sam and he got to swatting my bottom.  It sort of escalated and we were both having quite a bit of fun.  I was laughing so hard, I couldn't even spit out my next witty remark.  Sam had me sitting on his lap, and I was positively guffawing.  Soon there were tears in my eyes while I tried to catch my breath.  He just loves when my laughing goes out of control.

I believe pride is another reason that the tears come.  It is a rare occasion that I don't have a few well up when I sing the Star-Spangled Banner in a crowd.  When Son #2 graduated from veterinary school, I was definitely one of the weepy moms in the auditorium.  The proud realization that a student or patient is succeeding due to my efforts can bring a tear as well.

Now we'll make our way into the times when you cry for more complex or unpleasant emotions.  A mild but important one is empathy.  It develops slowly in a child.  They move from a more self-centered stage of emotional growth to becoming more abstract thinkers and understanding a depth of feeling in other people or even characters in a book or movie.  I remember the first movie in which I cried.  It was Old Yeller when that sweet dog dies at the end.  Recall being sort of frightened by those tears because I didn't fully understand why.

Certainly many of us can remember a time when we were so frustrated or angry that the tears fell.  More often as a youngster, but even as an adult there have been situations where my temper wants to rule.  Even with Sam there have been isolated instances when I was so mad that I was crying and yelling at the same time.  Hasn't happened but once since ttwd became part of our lives, and, as you can imagine, that did not turn out well for me.

Fear or shock may be so monumental, you can't find the words to deal with it, but tears can start almost immediately.  Every September 11th and many other days through the year bring me back to those tears and the paralysis I felt as I watched the towers fall and tried to comprehend how many people were inside.  What it all meant to our country.

Have understood regret all too well in these last few months.  Tears are never going to roll back time and change things.  Sometimes you regret something you did or something you didn't do.  Other times we tearfully regret something that befalls us.  Of course, regret can lead to sorrow.  We regret that our loved ones pass away or even that one of them makes decisions that separate us forever here in this life.  Memories are triggered by so many factors and often tears spring into our eyes in a moment.  A song, a scent, a place, a photo, a letter, even a dream.

Finally, I think we should examine tears and spanking.  It is a topic about which I have eagerly pored over in blogs, articles, and books.  Some subs can and others can't.  I have only read womens' thoughts on the subject, but those who say they can't cry often wish they could.  I did count myself among those for a long time.  For very long when Sam and I first started ttwd, there was no huge gush of tears with a spanking.  If the pain caused a tear in my eye, it was really no different than stubbing my toe.

I longed for that feeling of release of which other women spoke.  How the combination of the spanking and the tears cleansed whatever distance that had been created by words or actions or even pulling away.  We associate water with cleansing, whether we are literally washing the grime off our hands or figuratively like a baptism washes away one's sins.  Tears can cleanse, too.

Once read that for many women, after you finally cry for the first time during a spanking, it happens more easily after that.  That has been true for me, and for that I am thankful.  I believe that especially when I am dealing with stress, the tears are just as important as the spanking.  The release feels complete, and I do have a sense of rebirth - ready to face life renewed and full of grace.

                              I remember that without water
                           there would be no life on this earth.

                                         Tears nurture us 
                              just like rain nurtures our planet.

                                 Tears give us our humanity.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sometimes a Plan Is Just a List of Things That Don't Happen

Usually I struggle with how to end a post, but today I am having trouble with getting started.  When I last wrote, I was sitting on top of the world.  The trip for which Sam and I had planned and diligently saved was finally here, and I was so excited I could hardly sleep.  No one would ever refer to me as a cool, calm, sophisticated woman.  I am really just a big kid, one who is still asking, "Are we there yet?" long past her childhood.

Sam grinned and told me that a really good spanking was coming my way if I begged him just one more time to, "Tell me about the rabbits, George."  Ha!  Like that was going to stop me!  "Bring it on, Mister."  Packed and organized down to the last detail.  House was ready and fridge was stocked for Son #1 to camp out with the dogs.  Walked out of work that Friday afternoon "caught up" and all my responsibilities covered.

The sun glittered on the big, beautiful Virgin Atlantic jet that carried us to the UK.  Lovely attention on this airline's flights, and I was still as happy as a tornado in a trailer park.  Nice limo driver holding a sign with our name on it (this always makes me feel so fancy) and a big black car to whisk us from Heathrow into London.  Oh, wait a minute.  Correction.  We were "whisking" pretty well until we got close to the city.  Then things slowed to a crawl.  No matter.  We were in London!

Next morning the first episodes of a terrible bout of gastric disaster began.  I will spare you the more sordid details but will explain that I am still under doctors' care back here in the states 6 weeks later.  Nothing on this special trip went according to plan.  I have dealt with a lot of disgust and depression and really must admit that I am still struggling healthwise, physically and mentally.  Thanks so much for all the sweet notes and get well wishes.

Am going to try to concentrate on sharing some of the few good times that came to pass despite all the illness and tears.  Well, there is no place more important to begin than to tell you that I was able to meet Ami!  Definitely a high point and one I had looked forward to for close to a year.  Dear Ami is just as beautiful and sweet and wacky as her posts.  A heart so big and generous that one feels instantly at home.  Ami and Dan did indeed make Sam and I feel that way.

Ami wasn't feeling all that keen herself for several days, so it was a case of misery loves company.  We did get to spend part of one day with the guys at the ruins of a beautiful abbey, and Ami introduced me to my new favorite store, White Stuff!  Loved that place!  While our men pondered life over pints of Adnams, we girls did some power shopping, including an absolutely gorgeous scarlet bra and "knickers" from Marks and Spencer.  Ami and Ella never stopped talking and laughing.  She is a very special lady, and our time together is a lovely memory that I get to keep forever.

           "We'll be friends forever won't we,Pooh?" asked Piglet.
                             "Even longer," answered Pooh. 

Sam had business in London and arranged a private tour of Lloyd's for the Starsongs and us.  Alas, this was another activity I missed; this time I sat in Urgent Care for half a day to see my 2nd UK doctor.  Nothing I took seemed to help.  Short list of things I was not able to see or do.  The Shard, Liberty of London, the Tate, the London Eye, and both beloved Shakespeare plays.  Also many pies, pints and pubs. 

However, despite numerous trips to the loo, I did get to meet and thoroughly enjoy, Rosie, Jan, Ronnie, and DF.  Of course, Ami was there, too.  So a perfect 6 again!  And speaking of numbers, we did add up the total number of years married around the table.  Didn't quite hit 215 but we were close.  It was hard to talk about some topics with other people dining nearby, but we managed to share quite a lot.  I think DF has already posted a picture of the gifts we all exchanged.

One night not too long ago when I was feeling fairly symptom-free, Sam decided we were doing a Spanking Sampler to try out each and every new implement.  I rated them with various volumes of "Ow."  Each woman around that table was such an individual, but the common bond made it seem like we had known each other for much longer than one afternoon.  A very wonderful time.

I don't think the tears and monumental pity party started in earnest until I had to say goodbye to Ami and Dan.  I sobbed on Sam's shoulder for at least 20 minutes.  When I finally stopped, I formed a plan to just get drunk.  That didn't work either, but I did quit crying for a time.  Next day we left for France on board the Eurostar.  Yes, Ami had warned me about the "pissoirs" in France, but it was hard for this little Yank to believe until we arrived at the Gare du Nord in Paris.  If I had not been sick, I may have laughed when I saw there was a cash register and cashier and a line of 20 men and women at the entrance to the public toilets.  In my condition I just paid my 70 Euro cents and prayed.

The finale to our holiday was to be 4 days with a guide on the D-Day beaches of Normandy.  Sam had helped me to study the history including the monumental preparation and training that led up to 6 June, 1944.  I knew the geography and chronology and the key commanders.  We had read hundreds of pages together, and I was anticipating this every bit as much as Sam.

By the time we were in France, I was taking 10-14 Immodium a day, but there was still no improvement.  The only relief I ever got was by starvation.  So Sam left each morning with our guide, and I stayed behind.  Usually I would go back to bed for a while and have a good cry.  After a shower, I would nervously venture out for short periods.  I would usually shop for a banana and then find a pastry shop for a huge croissant.  Some days I would live dangerously and walk about the beautiful little village in which we stayed.  Lost count of how many times I had to rush back to the hotel in tears.  One day I did manage to take lots of photos and another time I did some souvenir shopping.  I read in the sun on the little terrace outside our hotel sipping 7-up.  One morning I spent 30 minutes on the Internet looking up enough French words in order to write a note to a French pharmacist. 

                             "Immodium nu' pas fonctionne'."

Don't know if this is correct, but the pleasant man got the idea and sold me more stuff that didn't work.  My best French (since I practiced it so often) was "Toilette, la femme?"  Which, by the way, the French are big fans of communal toilets.  So, instead of "la femme," I was usually sharing the toilet with a Frenchman with his wang in his hand.  Umm..... no thanks.

On the 3rd day, Sam and the guide rearranged the destinations so I might have access to a bathroom for a good portion of the afternoon.  They picked me up at noon after a morning at Pointe du Hoc.  I ate NOTHING for almost 24 hours, and it was worth it.  We started at Omaha Beach.  Our guide was a witty and knowledgeable British man who resided permanently in Normandy.  He was simply perfect and brought the story of what happened there alive.  He used a walking stick in the sand on the beach to explain what happened and in what order.  He also corrected some of the misconceptions fostered by movies such as The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan.  I drank in every word and felt so privileged to finally be standing there.  He had so many first-hand stories from old soldiers he had met and interviewed.  There were huge portfolios of photographs that documented each location and the units that landed.  We drove to a look-out point over the beach where buses could not navigate.  After a short hike we could view the complete breadth of Omaha.

Our guide has spent over 20 years compiling his documentation, and on our way to the next destination, he played us voice recordings from soldiers who were there that day.  It brought home again that every man had his own story.

When we arrived at the American Cemetery, our guide explained that he did not accompany his clients into the cemeteries.  He gave us a rough idea of what we might want to do, but said he would wait and that he did not agree with the guides who talked in these sacred places.  He was right.  This was a holy site and an experience that really did not need words.  As Sam and I walked quietly, the enormity of the life sacrificed on that day so long ago touched you like the hand of God.  I wanted to be by myself and silently separated from Sam to walk among the crosses until I came upon a grave with no name and decided that here was the place I wanted to pray.

                               "Here Rests In Honored Glory
                                        A Comrade in Arms
                                        Known But to God."

There was a small, gray chapel at the center of the cemetery, and it was there I found a quote that said everything I could not say that day.

                          "Think Not Only Upon Their Passing,
                           Remember The Glory of Their Spirit"

I truly regret everything that I was not able to see and experience.  It is one of the biggest disappointments of my life.  Sam felt awful that I could not participate in all this with him.  It was at this point that I "climbed into myself" and pulled away.  The condition persisted, and I became resigned and weak.  The trip home was a nightmare, and by the time we finally landed, they had to bring a wheelchair to the gate.  Weeks later I am still seeing doctors, having gobs of tests and trying not to succumb to falling into a sinkhole of self pity.

Sincerely, I thank my family and friends for their persistence and kindness.  Sam has been at my side, concerned and loving which, of course, was greatly appreciated.  But there really was very little progress in my state of mind until he finally decided that perhaps I was not too breakable to spank.  This is very hard for him to understand.  I still crave his leadership when I am dispirited, maybe more than when I am sassy or bossy.  I need to feel he is my rock, and for me, that means I need to feel his hand on my bottom.  Don't think I could explain this need except to all of you.  Others would never understand.  But I believe that many of you could relate a similar experience or could at least remember a time when you dearly wished there had been a spanking to pull you back.  It is my safety net.  Just like the routine of daily life can give comfort and strength, it has been when Sam reconnects with me through spanking that a sense of normalcy returns to us both.

                             A reason to smile and look ahead.