Keeping Alive My Memories of Diane Fien Kelly

Diane BenchThis past weekend we celebrated Diane FIen Kelly’s birthday. She would have been turning 57. So her dear friend Jean Melton lit 57 candles and put them all around her house and threw a big party where we ate, and drank, told stories and jokes, and reconnected with old friends. It was the kind of party that Diane would have liked. I could almost hear her laughing.

Diane plaque

The following day was the dedication of a bench, purchased by our book club in Diane’s honor and memory, positioned on the trail by the USNA stadium trail by her home.  Diane loved to be outside walking on a trail, and her last year on earth she made of point of truly savoring every precious moments, moments that included her two children Brendan and Lauren and her dog Stuart, a rescue from Hurricane Katrina.

Book clubs come in all shapes and sizes, and with a variety of procedures and traditions for choosing books, organizing discussions, and providing food and libations.  While some years Diane was busy with her work, training teachers in the field of special education teaching deaf and blind children, when present at a book club gathering her enthusiasm for our selection (even if she didn’t read the entire book) and for the food being served was always heartfelt.  She was the one who kept asking us to keep a record of the food being served with our selections for a future cookbook. Diane’s big heart and positive approach to just about everything she did was inspiring. She was the kind of person who was always looking out for the “little guy” and the person who when faced with adversity always managed to see the situation in a positive way.

Diane kids

Last week we were asked by her college friends for suggestions of the books which were Diane’s favorites and while initially I thought of her puzzling over Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills , it was Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards which tells the story of the impact of a doctor’s decision to give away his infant daughter at birth because she has Downs Syndrome, that I remember being one of Diane’s favorite books. The doctor in the story assumes his wife will be satisfied raising the daughter’s healthy twin brother and thinking her daughter died at birth, but he’s wrong. Meanwhile his former nurse raises the baby girl as her own in another city and as the years pass memories are not forgotten. That’s all I’m going to say because I certainly do not want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t read the book.

So in closing, if you are walking along the trail around the USNA stadium and want to take a moment to stop and think about your day or listen to the birds and feel the breeze rustle through the trees (There are a few small ones nearby) have a seat. Read the plaque and think of Diane!

Thank you to Eileen Leahy and the Department of Recreation of Park for helping to organize the bench installation.

Diane

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Catching Up after Maine, Work, and a Birthday

It has been several weeks since I’ve posted in this blog, although I have been faithfully posting at least once a week on the Annapolis Taste blog.  So if you are ever wondering what I’ve been up to, you could check there.

Back in July one of the members of my book club generously opened her house for a weekend to her fellow bookies  for a long book club weekend. And what a  great weekend it was in York Beach,dining on lobster and doing a night of Karaoke. Of course we swore that “What happens in York Beach stays in York Beach” so I can’t provide any details but… it was a pleasant break from the hot humid environment of Maryland.
So here are a few pictures…

I always have to go swimming. I find the cold water exhilarating and I convinced my friend Susan that she should join me!
Yesterday was August 14th, the wedding anniversary of my friends Lynn and Jeff and the birthday of my husband Peter, day that marks many important occasions. I always write him a poem and we try to do something fun so we started celebrating  Monday night with a beer and a light dinner outside in front of Castlebay on Main Street in Annapolis after walking Chloe around town. All through dinner it was Chloe who got all the attention. Everyone wanted to pet her and say hello. Must be because she is so adorable!

  Last night we went to Severna Park to buy Peter a beer making kit.

Afterwards we went to dinner at Gary’s Grill and for details click here.

Who Needs a Shower?

One of the highlights of my day, yesterday was getting my hair washed by stylist friend Anna at Regis in Annapolis. I can’t take a shower or a bath… only sponge baths. Just think how much water I’m so not wasting these days. Instead of having the pleasure of warm water beating down on my aching shoulders or luxuriating in a hot steamy bubble bath, I make do with warm water, soap, and a wash cloth. So some warm water being sprayed down on my head, even for a few minutes is ecstasy. So much for small pleasures.
The good news is that this is the third day I have walked with my husband Peter down to City Dock Cafe (winner of the Best Coffee award given by What’s Up? Annapolis for over 5 years running). Today we noticed that the Seven Eleven on the corner of Lafayette and West Street is now open for business. If I’m not up to walking all the way downtown now, we can walk there! However I am not a big fan of slurpees and I don’t know that their coffee is that good, however as our neighbor Joyce across the street has pointed out, “Now we have a nearby place to pick up a quart of milk… how convenient.”
THh bad news for me is that the pain continues in a major way, making sleeping at night elusive. I keep trying different techniques to cope with the pain when I wake up and last night I tried something new. We set up the laptop computer in the room where I am sleeping, my daughter Alex’s room. Our upcoming Book Club Selection is Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov and I purchased a used CD of the book. (It is hard for me to stay in a comfortable position to hold a book and turn pages for any appreciable length of time) So when I woke up at 3:00 a.m. I lay flat in bed listening to Jeremy Irons reading the first installment and at least I had something other than pain to focus on until finally sleep returned) I wouldn’t normally recommend Lolita — the story told through the eyes of a pedophile obsessed with a certain pre-adolescent girl– as bedtime reading, but I do need to read it for next month’s discussion.
My book club has been very good to me— lots of encouragement, gourmet dinners (spouses helping too), transportation— what a special group of women, everyone of whom has had to face their own daunting challenges through the years. I’d write a book about them but I think the subject has been done more than once which means there are a lot of wonderful book clubs out there providing enduring and supportive friendship and inspiration. So blog reader, if you thought book clubs were just a group of folks meeting to discuss a book, think again… many times they can evolve into a lot more.

Summer Reading Courtesy of Annapolis Book Club

Some great ideas for summer reading.

There are many wonderful book clubs in our fair city but the book club I belong to is the best (Not that I’ve belonged to any others) But I do believe we serve the best dinners, have the best conversations, and choose the best books. Oh yes and we do have a great time.
Each year we pick a theme and then each hostess picks her book which she tries to associate with the theme, or not. Our theme is “water”. Our book for this month is Anita Shreve’s “The Weight of Water”. Set on a sailboat docked near an island off the coast of New Hampshire it utilizes the parallel timeline of an historic event to highlight the life choices and challenges of a present day character, a photographer who unfortunately is more in touch with the past than the present. It’s a page turner.
On a lighter note, an earlier selection was “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. What was life like for the British residents of the Channel Islands occupied by Germany during the second World War? The story is told through the colorful correspondence of a journalist communicating with her colleagues, friends, and members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. While a potato peel pie may not be delicious, but the in’s and outs of the characters’ lives make for some delicious reading. Enjoy your summer.