Pully Taffy: My review

Pulling Taffy: TInky Weisblat



Memories are more than just precious. Memories bring smiles, tears, a warm glow and inspirational thoughts when remembering someone you cared for and loved. Mothers are the most amazing people in the world. They are mentors, teachers, often doctors, nurses and the best cooks in the entire world. Tinky Weisblat’s memories of her mom, Taffy, generated more than must the memories of my mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003 and passed in 2011. The events she shares, the humorous incidents and the heartfelt words, thoughts and times she cared for her mom and shares with readers will help other caregivers understand how precious you are to those who need you. A caregiver learns from the start that his/her life is about to take on many new challenges, different directions and often your time is no longer your own. The responsibilities are huge and the hope of enlisting the help of others is not always easy.



Tinky shares not only her time with her mom but her childhood memories growing up with her father, Abe a really colorful man, his job with the Agricultural Development Council,, her short-term memory skills and how all of this was incorporated in taking care of Taffy. Her mother’s memory at times did fail. Keeping her mind active through cooking was one way that Taffy felt important and it also helped our author and her mom create some mouthwatering recipes that she shares with readers at the end of each chapter. Fortunately for Tinky her mother taught her a lot about cooking, which she passed on to her brother. Added in we learn more about her relationship with her brother, her time in Jamestown and her research into learning more about Mark Twain.


The essay she shares at the end of one chapter related to Caregivers enlighten those of us that are caring or have cared with parents that have dementia/Alzheimer’s with tips that are needed and the understanding that you as a caregiver deserve time for yourself and you are special. You might consider borrowing some of the great fragrances she uses in her bath water to start your day off with a smile.



Taffy had spunk and definitely had her own flair for life. Loving her two pets unconditionally. They on the other hand adored her as she cuddled with them, talked to them and of course providing them with numerous treats. But, what shines through his Tinky’s sense of humor and her love for her mother. The incident with the piano brought a smile to my face. Not wanting to buy a new one and wanting to repair her older model really hit home. Even though the life of the piano might soon end and her mother’s too the hope that both would somehow be restored lets you know that our author would never give up on either the piano or her mom.



Caring for her mother was not her only task as Tinky had to care for Truffle and Lorelei Lee too. So, how did Taffy come down with the same infection her pets did? What happens when Tinky hears her having a conversation with someone else but no one is there? The dialogue is priceless and the incidents strike more than just a familiar chord. Remembering names becomes difficult and the moments of recognition heartfelt as the author relates that her relationship with her mother changes daily if not moment-by-moment as we continue with this upbeat and uplifting journal. Sharing her mother’s childhood helps readers get to know the real Taffy. Hearing her mother’s voice, sharing her poems, thoughts and comical moments allows the reader to take the journey from start to finish with the author. The picture of Taffy kneading soda bread on page 60 says it all. Her smile, spunky attitude as a kid and even when older comes through in every event described and each picture, recipe and story that told. But, the best news she shares is that her old Stieff piano was saved. If you want to know how the piano guy does it you have to read it for yourself.


Urinary infections seem to plague poor Taffy. That is not uncommon. Dealing with them becomes the norm. But, the funniest incident was why Tinky received a discount on the doughnuts. Will not tell anyone why? That would ruin their fun of finding out for themselves. It is truly a HA HA moment. As you learn more about her life, her college years you can see her graduation picture on page 74 and realize just how beautiful she was. The poem her friend Katharine Irons Brett wrote to her is more than just about graduation  was reprinted with the permission of the Brett family. Read May: Waiting and Watching and see the picture that tells a whole story. Added in we learn about their interesting and comical courtship, the reservations both families expressed because it would be an inter-faith marriage and their willingness to work hard and stay together. She was an amazing person filled with ideas, smart, good cook, expected excellence from her and her brother, (sounds like mine), loyal and always found the good in every situation. Read the chapter titled Taffy’s Marriage and learn more. You won’t be disappointed.


Loving and listening to music helped by Tinky and Taffy thrive. As you read the chapter titled July: A Golden Month you can hear the music being played, see her at the Independence Day picnic, the smile on her face is breathtaking and the ups and downs the day described. Watching her mom gaze at the clouds on a hot day she composed this amazing poem: Title Heat Wave shared on page 119.


As Taffy’s condition changed many times our author enlisted the help of several caregivers and eventually hospice. I admire her determination to make sure that her mother received the best care and she never gave up on her and requested that everything be done to keep her alive and healthy.


Her life in India plus the poem she shares that her mother wrote about her time there, teaching seventh graders and her way of controlling difficult situations you can see this five foot one woman standing tall and taking control of every situation. With the support of her brother David and his family plus so many others Tinky was able to forge ahead, whether the difficult times and laugh at the outrageous things her mother did that would make her smile even today. On Pages 187-188 she shares some valuable caregiver thoughts or tips and her final days, where she is now and what she hopes to accomplish rounds out this outstanding memoir in journal form. Dementia/Alzheimer’s knows no limits and there are no boundaries or ways to stop its progression. Every song she sang with her mother, every poem she wrote and every painting she created helped her to thrive. Never treating her as if she did not understand, keeping her mind and body active is the best way to help stimulate her mind and you truly kept her alert for so long. Infections are not uncommon and will change the person’s behavior as I know from my mom who contracted UTI’s and had to be placed permanently on medication to avoid any more infections. What better way to remember your mother and create a special tribute or legacy to her than to write her story, share her life and remember her smiles and her songs.


Taffy, Jan Weisblat, lived to be 93 years young you might say. She never gave up on herself and she loved and lived life to the fullest. The pictures of her family that are shared and those of Taffy bring her to life for readers. Pages 195-198 read as a short bio of her life and bring it all together.


Taffy Weisblat was feisty, strong willed, strong minded and spoke of going home many times. The word Home has many different meanings. Taffy is in a different home right now with God watching over her and she is watching over her family and friends.


To those caregivers that took such great care of this amazing woman, to Tinky for sharing her story and allowing us to get to know her mother and to everyone who supported her work and her during her time caring for Taffy, I dedicate this review to her memory and to all of you.


A must read so well written, uplifting and filled with great recipes, essays, poems and much more. This is one book that I am going to cherish and keep on my bookshelf. Memories are precious: These truly are!


Fran Lewis: reviewer


A Dream of Daring: My review

A Dream of Daring



Visionaries are often shunned and people that see the future unfold in ways that are not traditional often encounter resistance. Established ways are often the norm and anyone that dares to want to change things instills fear, anger and sometimes treachery within the minds of those that are against what is being presented. One young inventor named Tom Edmunton would encounter more than just hidden obstacles. Coming home for the funeral of someone close to him, to support the family of a young woman whose family hoped to make his wife, Tom finds his life about to change. Geared toward science, running a cotton plantation and a bank his goals and endeavors would change if what he created and hoped to market would succeed. The son of a Louisiana planter, creating a motorized tractor, using gasoline for the first time would revolutionize the way the land would be plowed and ease up the amount of time men would have to sow the soil. Imagine what this could do for the plantation owners? But, slavery was in place and many did not want to lose control over the people who provided the labor for their farms. Nor did they want to have to pay anyone to run the machinery, work the land or reap any of the profits. But, this was just the beginning of what would prove to be more than just an invention. As Tom explains his thoughts, shows his invention to Wiley Barnwell, the Senator who was like a father to him. A man named Cooper and another named Nash who are vehemently against what he wants to do as he explains the need for more funds to operate it and the reasons why it was housed in the barn and where he hoped to bring it the following day. The excitement was electrifying and his explanation quite compelling but the end result tragic.



Change is a dangerous word and creates fear in those that do not understand what it means or think it endangers what they already have. What would happen if slaves did not pick the cotton and help cultivate the land? What would happen if they were given too much freedom? As the author shares with us the thoughts of this man named Cooper and we hear his fears and concerns it alerts us to the fact that something might happen to change everything. But, someone close to him is killed and Tom feels responsible for the Senator’s wife and daughter as he travels to find his stolen invention but instead comes upon an injured horse a young mulatto slave and the end result was not exactly what he expected. Freeing her horse and helping to bring him to safety what this girl does is definitely not what any slave should dare to do and if caught she would face a harsh punishment. The new age is coming to the South and things are about to change. Some insist that slaves are the only ones that can complete the tasks on the plantations do the heavy work and are definitely needed and not to be freed where others are more concerned with the new technology, allowing everyone to benefit and not keeping people in bondage. Imagine why these slave owners would dislike his motorized tractor the age of mechanized farming which would possibly prove that slaves and the entire slave system was no longer needed.



When Tom relates to the Senator’s wife and daughter about his death their reaction seems cold, unfeeling and definitely does not fit how most would react to the death of a husband of father. Each one seems consumed with their own private needs, the running of their plantation, funeral expenses and the inconveniences his death has caused. Rachel appears to really care about Tom and her mother becomes dependent on him but both seem absorbed in their own private worlds and it comes across as kind of callus as this wonderful young man takes on responsibilities that most would not because the Senator backed him and believed in his invention. But, when he discusses it with Rachel she is adamant about her feelings about change, the new age and his invention as being something he should table or put on the back burner in order to run his father’s bank and plantation. Rachel seems locked into the old ways and although she has been presented with the freedom to soar, run her own dance studio with Tom’s backing she prefers to honor her mother’s wishes and live by her father’s creed.


Added in is Ted Cooper in jail and arrested for the murder but even though he was seen standing over the Senator’s body does it mean he is guilty? Another man seems to have his heart set on marrying Rachel but what are his real motives and intentions? Why would the Senator give his daughter’s hand in marriage to a man who cannot manage his own finances, run his own plantation and seems to want to use her as a bargaining chip in a business deal.

Although Rachel was free her manner seemed constrained. Then along comes a free spirit, but slave named Solo and things change for both Tom and his stable hand and slave Jerome or as he was referred to as Tom’s chief factotum. The friction between these two slaves runs high but the end result will definitely make you wonder just who is running the show. Solo, literate, smart and cunning in her own way manages to convince Tom to allow her to stay out of the kitchen, not sew and definitely not work in the fields and trade places with Jerome. Just what would a man do in the kitchen? Well! How about becoming a head chef? When push comes to shove and her voice is heard what happens might make some slave owners cringe but not Tom. Added in we learn more about Nash and his desire to undermine Tom, take Rachel for his own and convince her to negate his friendship for his. Although Tom wants to help her mother and her family the mayor paints an entirely different picture of the late Senator that makes Tom wonder whether he really knew him at all.



A new age with new ideas and new implements and tools to make planting easier, help with picking the cotton and cultivating the land and yet so many against change. Solo, a mulatto slave, hates Tom at first, runs her mouth at every turn and yet manages to act as a free spirit where Rachel although living a lavish life seems tied to the old ways and afraid of change. A literate slave that paves the way for others to follow and a story so powerful you will wonder how the North managed to stay out of the way of the South for so long and how so many enslaved lived in fear. Claiming that they care for their slaves, protected their young and provided for their every need, the mayor and others justified keeping these people in bondage. But, why would Tom who owned slaves offer to pay for their passage to freedom? What would happen if they escaped and what would happen to him if someone found out?



The story runs deeper and is more intricate than most think as we get to know Solo, realize that she is a lot more than just a slave. She is literate and can really help Tom in many more ways than just threatening Jerome. As we hear the banter between Jerome and Solo you get to know their strengths, weaknesses and realize that she is relentless, smart, sharp and eventually will get both Tom and Jerome to see things her way. As Jerome loves to cook and always wanted to become a chef, and Solo loves horses they decide to trade jobs and then things really soar for them both. Jerome invents a special chocolate treat, Tom helps him to create his own business and the many of the business owners are thrilled and order his special treat. Just why would Tom want to help a slave to earn money? How would this affect his standing in the community? The trial and the witnesses were also questioned and Ted Cooper is found guilty will he be hanged for the Senator’s murder? Who else could have killed him and what part does Tom’s invention really play in all of this? Was it stolen to destroy his dream or was it stolen for someone else to profit?



When the truth about Solo is revealed and the connection to the Barnwell family told you won’t believe what happens and how Tom comes to her aid. Revenge, lies, deceit, power plays, narrow minded people set in their own ways and a simple birthmark that would change many lives. Who killed Barnwell and why? You have to learn that for yourself to understand the circumstances and decide who is really guilty.  As Solo’s birthright is revealed and Tom’s role is brought to light Rachel and Charlotte choose sides and whose you won’t believe. Loyalties change, words are harsh and one woman’s life will be destroyed. When the end finally comes and the world is free from slavery just who avails themselves of the freedoms and becomes their own master and who will forever be chained? The new age is there but the old values somehow prevail just how you will have to learn for yourself. A Dream of Daring: so many wanted to soar like Icarus but not too close to the sun or their wings will burn. Who succeeds and who gets caught in the crossfire? Author GEN LAGRECA takes readers back to a time when masters whipped slaves, berated other humans, were only concerned about keeping them down and never allowed them to think, feel, work or choose their own destiny. Tom Edmunton: Dared to dream and dared to allow himself to teach others to understand the meaning of freedom. One great book for students in college and high school to read and learn more about the South and slavery. One great book that deserved the Forward Review’s finalist award.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer