I’ve been feeling almost guilty lately as I enjoy other folks blogs, but don’t write anything on mine. My excuse? I’m so wrapped up in “My Father’s House.” I just have to finish at least the skeleton of the story. It will end in 1975 when my father died, and right now I’ve made it to 1955 (and over 600 pages — obviously much editing to do).

But I am moved today to reblog something I read this morning. As usual, my first reaction was, “I was teaching this stuff in the 1960s and ’70s. Will people never get it?

My next thought was “This is true not only for women and men, but for all the ‘others.’ who make up this great country of ours.”

Then I was compelled to tell at least one story of the possibility for change.

In the 70s, I taught this truth about the subtle training of boys and girls, women and men, pointing out as we did at the time that the fish are the last to be aware of the water they live in. I also served as department chair. One guy said, “There are 21 chairmen in Liberal Arts and one chairperson.” They thought they were making progress.

But I also learned that both women and men could climb their way out of the water. At meetings where I was the only woman, I witnessed what the data showed — that what women offered in a meeting was ignored. Here’s how it went. I would say something. The men would stop and listen politely as they had been taught to do when a woman is present. Then they would pick up right where they left off. One day I said, “I get the feeling that, if I were looking in a mirror, no one would look back.” Their reaction was “Huh?” I explained to them what was happening. For a period of time it was almost ludicrous how they would stop and ask my opinion, but after a series of such meetings, it began to run smoothly as they (and I) respected my opinion.

I’M THE “ONLY” AGAIN   26 comments

My brother was born 11 years before me; my sister 8 years before me. I was the baby. (And believe me, I often did let my resentment be known. Who wants to be “the baby?”)

Then they grew up and went off to college — even eventually getting married. And I became the “only.” Not a bad place to be, the youngest and the only. Just ask an Adlerian.

Now I’m the “only” again. My brother, Carl Harvey Gustafson, ended his life journey in 1998. And yesterday, after a long hard struggle between the forces of staying and those of leaving, my sister, Thelma Gustafson Wyland,  crossed the border into whatever there is beyond this life. She did fight it. For four weeks she could take no food or water and still persisted. Thanks be to God, her struggle is over.

Please don’t cry for her or for me. We are both in a good place.



What a joy to check and find this thoughtful review of figs & Pomegranates & special cheeses. Many thanks to the author.

on July 18, 2017
Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses
The novel is a rendition of the Job and his biblical trials as told from Dara’s (Mrs. Job’s) viewpoint, namely, that of a woman living in a patriarchal world. Story embarks when and Dara goes down the memory lane, enriched with the hues of love, friendship and faith.
The mystic and extramundane world of nomads created by the author is an interesting backdrop.
Dara grows up with her childhood friend Adah, living like nomads, going through all feelings different and new. Adah is constant in her life.
While Dara’s betrothal and marriage evokes plethora of emotions like, sadness, trust, joy, eagerness and pain, all developing into her love for Job; Dara’s faith for goddess Astarte becomes her Ariadne’s string. She finds her solace in hugging the firm body of Astarte.
The third-fourth of the book focuses on the Dara’s growth into a woman who confesses fully to her personality and owns it all with the faults and strengths; it’s later that it transposes to the terror of trials, anxiety of choices and consequences of decisions.
The author Mona G Affinito writes the story in a unique first person narrative, which binds you from the get go. The writing style is simple, idiomatic yet calls on something deep. Detailed, descriptive yet never monotonous monologue and immortalised biblical characters set in a olde worlde are the tools which have spun this beautiful tapestry.
Reader connects with Dara as she strives for happiness through all her travails and blights. The protagonist is raised with values and some she assimilates from her experience of being a daughter, a wife, a best friend and a mother.
The friendship and faith are her beacon and they leads her back to the light of clarity whenever she finds herself in the darkness of incertitude.
A working principle of a machine makes it easy for us to understand and marvel at it more, this is how the Addendum section at the end of the book felt. It’s just like behind the scenes of a great play, and instead of actors’ work you get a kick at the can to understand the working of Mona’s mind and the extensive research done during the writing of this book.
The first read would feel like the figs & pomegranates & special cheeses love and you would keep coming back for it’s potage love.
This bracing read is largely recommended to one but all.

“Nothing looked or felt quite the same. No one seemed to notice that I was no longer Dara. I was someone else. Yes, I knew this would happen, but now it was real, making me feel like stranger.”

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair review.


You’d better believe I check every day for any new reviews of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses. Today I discovered two that I hadn’t seen before. My daughter tells me she always looks first at the less-than-five-star reviews for a book she’s interested in — claims they give her more information. Maybe these will serve the same purpose.

4.0 out of 5 stars A love story including trials and integrity

ByBecky Zaleson July 16, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition

An interesting story by Mona Gustafson Affinito. Definitely enjoyed reading a story about Job but from the fictional perspective of his wife Dara. After seeing Job’s affliction, Dara may have been confused to see her husband continue to worship God. She tells Job to “curse your god and die” which seems to make her a bad person, for possibly believing they have been abandoned by God. This poignant story helps one to reflect on what it must have been like to be Mrs. Job.
The story presents the challenges and struggles of Dara’s life and the turmoil of having to serve a different God from the one she served in childhood. After years of blessings from her new god it must have been even more difficult to lose all of her children, servants and livestock. The most challenging trial for Dara is seeing her husband sick with boils all over his body. She also had to witness the long debate among Job and his companions. His comforters imply Job is wicked and should admit his wrongdoing and accept his punishment from God. Yet, Job insists on maintaining his integrity.
A great read, for those that enjoy a nice love story and characters that suffer hardships yet persevere, forgive and maintain integrity.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

4.0 out of 5 starsAn interesting take on Job’s story

ByRebekah Gon April 26, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition

Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses tells a story about Job’s wife, following her life as a child through to Job’s death. It was interesting to read this take on Job and his suffering from Dara’s perspective and I found it a worthwhile read. Unfortunately, I found that the story perhaps went too far back (as a child) and took a long time to actually get to Dara and Job’s life together. Mona’s descriptions are vivid and enthralling, but I felt like there was a real shortage of dialogue.
Overall an interesting story and a great effort by Mona.

*I received a copy of this book through the author and Booktasters in exchange for my honest review.




When the enemy has created a new and very powerful weapon of mass destruction, a game of whack-a-mole is far from satisfactory in fighting it. How about a concerted effort by the best brains available to prevent its creation in the first place?

The new and powerful weapon of mass destruction? People who are willing to blow themselves up – or otherwise kill themselves – in order to destroy large numbers of others. Yes, literally, they are the weapons.

So far all the best are focused on interrupting those weapons before they are deployed. There is a bit of the neurotic factor in the process. Neurosis? To keep on doing that which doesn’t work in the hope that it will succeed.

So to the Manhattan project. Find the way to prevent the creation of such human weaponry. Who’s needed on the project? Psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, economists, theologians, social workers, health care workers, historians, journalists, philosophers, IT experts, marketers – and yes, detectives, experienced military folk, CIA agents, lawyers – even politicians, and … (I know I’ve forgotten some important experts. Please fill in the blanks.)

No, I’m not kidding.






I just posted this review of “Now to Him”on

May 27, 2017

This is a beautiful little book. Forty-five pages of honesty, love, and faith. “A Prayer of Hope through one family’s struggle with autism” just as the author says it is.

Yes, people who are struggling with the same problem may find comfort, but my hope is that people who have been spared will read it for kinder understanding of families faced with the issue. To know how one can give loving support just by avoiding judgmental criticism. To think twice before giving the dirty look when the family of an autistic child tries to enjoy an outing in a restaurant, for example.

This is a book for people who want to spread love in ways that cost nothing more than understanding.

I am donating my copy to my church library, with the hope that those serving the library will find a public way to encourage parishioners to stop by for a quick read, or even to sign it out.

Truly a book about love and faith that encourages the expression of faith-filled love.

In fact, I’d be very happy to see it ordered for the libraries in all houses of worship for those who seek ways to share their love.





Yes, this is blatant marketing. But that’s the nice thing about blogging. You don’t have to do any face-to-face explaining. Just feel free to delete.

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and rich storytelling and character development
April 15, 2017
“Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses: A Love Story” is a beautiful novel unlike anything I’ve read before. I am a spiritual person as well as a lover of literature, and I have a special appreciation for the rich literary elements of Biblical narratives. I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this work, yet I didn’t know quite what to expect from this particular vantage point of the trials of Job. In retrospect, I don’t think I could have imagined just how rich and moving Dara’s story would be. While the reader is most likely to assume that the relationship between Dara and Job is the love story referenced in the book’s title, I believe that what makes this book so special is that Mona Gustafson Affinito has provided us with two other love stories. Those love stories are the long-running and often-tested friendship between Dara and Adah, and most importantly in my opinion, the story of how Dara learns to love the woman she becomes. Dara acknowledges the different and connected identities she has as a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, and a mother. Yet what I enjoyed the most was the experience of Dara owning her identity as a questioner, and acknowledging both the strengths and faults that come along with that identity. I love that Dara never abandons her own personal growth. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the complexity of Biblical narratives, interesting interpretations and depictions of early feminism, and an in-depth look into the concept of unconditional love.”
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