Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster

By Scott Stevenson
Binding:Paperback
Publisher:Deadora Press, (3/8/2010)
Language:English



Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.47 out of 5 (34 Clubie's ratings)


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LOOKS EASY ENOUGH is a work of narrative non-fiction recounting a four year period in the author’s life where at the age of forty-six he marries for the first time, retires, and moves with his bride to a small mountain town to live the simple life. Instead, he finds himself supporting his wife through cancer, helping his sister through a grueling four year divorce from an abusive husband, painfully witnessing their retirement money circle the drain in the biggest stock market crash since the Great Depression, and watching as a thousand foot wall of dense smoke and raging flames (the Cedar Fire - San Diego, California) approaches their home – the home they spent the last three years building themselves. With the flames less than a hundred yards from their back door they realize, they could lose everything. Yet through it all – cancer, divorce, market crashes, and forest fires - the author ultimately sees the events for what they really are . . . and comes out smiling.

The refrain, “looks easy enough” is the author’s general attitude towards life’s many processes – from breast reconstruction to pouring concrete foundations to filing legal documents. It is also intended as an empowering affirmation to inspire readers with the confidence that they, too, can tackle even the most disheartening of life’s challenges and land on their feet.

The book is a tale of love, adventure, personal growth, a do-it-yourself story and a comedy all rolled into one compulsively readable volume.





Winner of the BB "The Book Pick" Contest - August 2010

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Book Junky's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:1/30/2012

With a glimpse into the private lives of Scott, Susan, Beth et. al. we get to know these beautiful people and witness how using the philosophy of "The Magic" can transform how you see and go through your life. I'm a fan of the magic, so I enjoyed that part and how the story reinforced the beliefs. On top of that there is a lot to enjoy and discuss here - some VERY humorous moments that had me laughing out loud - some very serious and emotionally complicated issues to deal with and overcome - some helpful construction techniques - and more. Though at times Scott seems a little too good to be true, and sometimes the dialogue a little contrived, overall this is good book and I agreed with reviewer that said it "is the 'Eat, Pray, Love' for guys - which women will adore." A fun read that is sure to get your club chatting. 

Side note: After laughing very hard at Scott and his piss ants. Karma came a knockin and I dreamt I was getting bitten by them too! Woke up itchy all over, but I had to laugh.

Another Side Note: Knowing that Scott started this book as a love letter to his wife was very heartwarming, and made the story a little extra special in my eyes.



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Alice_Wonder's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:12/29/2010

I read only 42 out of 451 pages. The author tells of his life when his wife gets breast cancer and later when his sister goes through a divorce with an abusive husband. I stopped reading when he told his wife, " . . . you know you chose to have this tumor." This apparently had to do with something in a past life that she needed to resolve or learn from. Cancer is bad enough. I just can't believe that someone should feel guilty about it. Bad things just happen and we humans often learn from them.

Cancer was not a choice for the author's wife. But, his choice to invest has money into NASDAQ stocks shortly before the market crash was his choice. There is a big difference in the two situations.

 



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Nick's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:8/5/2010

Right off the bat, I have to say that "Looks Easy Enough" will definitely inspire and touch many who read it. At its heart, the book is a tale of some very nice people who endure some tough times. Great stuff for its target audience...thing is, that I'm about as far off that target as you can get. I don't really believe in "healing balls of white light" that the author, Scott Stevenson, is constantly sending to people like some kind of wizard in a role-playing game. While I find some of his philosophy at times interesting, I also tend to disagree with him on things like how to comfort one's wife who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Stevenson feels that telling her that she chose to have cancer as a life learning experience is the way to go. I'm not sure I'd find that terribly comforting, personally. But that's the kind of world we're living in within this book. Of course, you root for the characters, but I admit to also being annoyed by them. We're constantly reminded about what a cute couple Scott and his wife are because they have apparently thousands of nicknames for each other. Babe-O, Bub-O...Brill-O, I dunno. There were so many names, I felt like I was reading a Russian novel. Early in the book he'd offer some explanation for each increasingly goofy nickname, but later on the author got lazy and when a new nickname would be introduced he would just say, "sometimes Susan likes to call me [insert cutsie-poo nickname here] and I don't know why." Fascinating.

Again, I recognize my personality just conflicts with a lot of the sort of new-age thinking in play here, but beyond that I think it's fair to say this book is about twice as long as it needs to be. Weighing in at 451 pages, some stretches would be somewhat compelling and then you'd be in about 40 pages of talk about laying foundation and pouring concrete. It's great that the author built his own house, and I'd be proud of that too, but I don't think I'm going out a limb saying that most readers interested in pouring concrete aren't terribly into alternative healing and life magic, and vice versa. In a nutshell, there are a handful of inspiring or thought provoking moments in here, but you have to dig through a lot of pet names, drywall and new age "magic" to get to it.

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Reese's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:8/5/2010

This book has a lot of things to really enjoy…the obvious love between the author, Scott Stevenson and his wife, the humor, the normal ups and downs of life as well as the tragedies, and the search for making sense of why. All generally good and common things to find in a memoir. It is a story of navigating the trials of life by way of “The Truth” or “ The magic”. Which according to Stevenson is part of the Game Board of life that we are moving along as we learn. If only life were Candyland right? The message of the book is heartfelt, relatable and life affirming even if you don’t agree in theory or philosophy of “the Magic”. It is written with ease and a great sense of storytelling that would have been more enhanced by a much shorter length to the book. The level of detail in some areas such as the how-to of building their dream home was way too much info. While these parts of the book seemingly are to also help establish their familial bonds, it adds to the book as more of a diary for the author than necessary for the reader to know. I think there was much more to learn about what was actually going on with Scott Stevenson than he wrote about, beneath his "learning", to get it back to the memoir. With that said, there was a lot to be gained from reading this book as it is a thoughtful essay on life and how his family got through the very tough times.



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Sam's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:8/5/2010

This book was an enjoyable, nicely written, easy read with a heartfelt message of hope, optimism and perseverance in overcoming life‘s inevitable adversities. It was also way too long and often got lost in a version of “This Old House” amidst the narrative of building their dream house. This book is a nice look into the importance of the love of family, support of friends, spirituality, alternative and holistic approach to life and disease and survival. It was also a look into the depth or sometimes lack there of, of the author, Scott Stevenson’s, philosophy and process of life. Which surprisingly I found more evidence of with him helping his sister through divorce than I did with his wife’s battle with cancer. Although, I never doubted his love and support of his wife. Whether you are looking to read a book with a message for life or just like reading about people’s lives…this book has lots of room for discussion.

 



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Ceci's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:7/31/2010

In the introduction to his book, Scott Stevenson takes some time to explain his perspective on “the Truth.” In brief, we are all here to learn, our spirit learns over time by choosing different human lives to lead, and when we experience illness, loss, happiness, etc. it is because we chose that experience to learn about it. Stevenson advises that this is “not a corny book about spirituality,” however, just “a story about fully experiencing all that life has to offer . . . and coming out smiling.”  Well, the book actually is pretty corny, but that is its charm. I felt like Stevenson was sitting with me telling his story in person. The intimate and straightforward tone of the book renders his voice crystal clear. Stevenson’s “Truth” is not entirely my cup of tea, but the main failing for me is a sense that, while Stevenson is doing his best to help his family to fully experience life, perhaps he is not always being fully honest with us – or himself – about his own experience. The chapter in “The Pit”, where he cannot square his extreme emotions with “the Truth” and he disavows Susan’s explanation (that maybe his anger stems from setting aside his retirement dreams to help Susan and his sister), stands out as a possible example of refusing to acknowledge the obvious – that he actually is frustrated about deferring his retirement plans. While Beth and Susan’s individual stories and insights were truly inspiring, this is Stevenson’s memoir – and for him I wonder if this memoir isn’t just scratching the surface. 

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Steph's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:7/27/2010

Inspiring.  Humbling.  Heart wrenching.  Humorous.  And that's just the first chapter.  Although this spirit is beautifully maintained throughout the book to the very last page.  Scott Stevenson's Looks Easy Enough is one of those books that you would recommend to someone who is going through a major life event.  That is actually what I did  as the day I finished reading it, a colleague's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And if you have any reservations about whether this inspirational tale is captivating, twice while I was reading on the bus I nearly missed my stop.  Even if you think you don't need a dose of optimism, I think you will find something helpful to take away from this book.  I have no doubt that the message of this book is one that will stay with me should I ever have a moment where I need to summon strength, patience, charity, or hope from the reserves.  My gratitude to Mr. Stevenson for writing about his moving and engaging experience.  

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lindainmaine's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/17/2010

There's nothing better, in my opinion, than spending a leisurely evening with new friends and hearing their story; not just their experiences but also how they responded and what they learned. If you feel the same, then grab this book and spend a few evenings with Scott Stevenson and his wife and family. Get comfortable and open your mind. Prepare to let your other plans slide, because you'll be brushing your teeth with this book in one hand and staying up late to read just one more chapter, oh, maybe just one more after that ... 

Scott Stevenson worked hard as an architect in Southern California, saved his money, and at age forty-six married Susan and retired. His plan was to design and build their home in the Cuyamaca Mountains east of San Diego. Scott's personal philosophy underpins the book: what he calls seeing the Big Picture of Life, the Magic. He believes that we "choose" our experiences because we have something to learn from them, and that our goal in life is to learn and grow until we understand the Oneness of all things. Scott closed his business and entered a new phase of life with energy and got ready to build. 

Looks easy enough so far, right? 

The first and most devastating challenge was his wife Susan's breast cancer. Next on the bumpy path, Scott's sister Beth went through a harrowing divorce, with Scott and Susan deeply involved in helping Beth and her children through the ordeal. During these hectic four years Scott and Susan were also watching their retirement investment dwindle and eventually vanish in the downturn of the NASDAQ. And of course they were building a house--actually building it themselves, with the help of the Family Crew: Scott's 78-year-old mother, sister Beth, and her two pre-teen daughters. 

Again and again, things that "look easy enough" turn out to be full of trouble; but Scott and Susan handle it all with love, calling on their belief in the Big Picture to see them through. When their new house is threatened by the 2003 firestorms tearing through Southern California, it seems like the last straw. Who could possibly "choose" that experience? 

Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster is full of love, laughter and inspiration. Scott and Susan don't just survive all the adversity, they embrace it and come through smiling. You'll smile too at the house-building adventures, the details of Susan's treatment and triumphant return to full health, and through it all Scott's buoyant belief that it's all about learning and growing. The easy conversational style delivers an exceptionally well-structured story--Scott makes writing a book "look easy enough!" Reading this memoir is like spending a few evenings with warm and wise new friends. Highly recommended. 

Linda Bulger, 2010


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Susanraw's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/11/2010



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Terry Lee's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
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raw susan's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
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cartimm's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/8/2010



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lm's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/8/2010



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stevenson.scott55@gmail.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

Okay!  It's my book.  And what better person to vote for it!! Thank you all for supporting my effort.  I am touched.

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Rampant reader's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

One of the most inspirational books I have read.  Even though it deals with serious subjects - cancer, divorce, forest fires, and stock market crashes - I found myself laughing throughout.  The author has a delightful way of seeing life's challenges.  A must read.

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deadorapress@gmail.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

I read somewhere that the author calls this a grown-up love story.  How lucky I am to have found this book.  I hope I find that same quality of love someday other than with my cat!

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ordersdeadorapress@gmail.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

I've heard so many good things about this book and all of them were spot-on!  Thank you Mr. Stevenson for taking the time and effort to tell your story. I'll pass the word along to a whole lot of people that they too can munch on this great read.

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theput22@aol.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

Reading this book was "easy enough" and I learned a lot on many levels.  This is one book I will read again and again.

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theput@aol.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

Just joined BookBundlz and found this book in the competition.  Read it in 2 days  - couldn't put it down.  A definite read for people with many different interests.

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kathmax711@yahoo.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

My sister turned me on to this book.  She said I had to read it.  Was she suggesting I needed some inspiration?!  Well, it did the trick.  Funny, quirky, deep, a page-turner, and lots of good tips.

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bstevenson107@yahoo.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

Mr. Stevenson is a man's man.  He's my man.  Hopefully I won't have to face all the tragedy that he did, but if I do, I have a better feeling for coming through it all "with a smile" as he says.

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chrisgurl624@yahoo.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

I wish I could have found this book years ago when I went through a very painful divorce.  Mr. Stevenson really showed me how it all could have come out different.  Put this one front and center and devour it before something happens to you.

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melanie.vorman@gmail.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

One of the most touching stories I have read in a long time.  The author really knows how to balance the heavy with the light and the message for people facing disasters of every kind comes across loud and clear.  Put this one for sure on your list!

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carshapi@aol.com's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

I love a good love story.  This book has it all. And it's true which makes it even better.  My memoir of the year for sure.

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foxglove's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

Fun, moving and educational.  What more could you ask for in a book?

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senpaifoxglove's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/7/2010

For anyone faced with a distressing situation this is the book for you. Reading how the author faced and made it through some pretty tough crises gave me a feeling I can do the same in my life.  And the story has a very light, and at times laugh-out-loud quality which makes it a fun read as well.

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jdunkerley's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/6/2010

I didn't know disease, divorce and disaster could be so humorous! The author's unique and quirky way of seeing life makes serious issues seem not so serious.  I highly recommend this book to all clubbies.

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jed111's thoughts on "Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
updated on:6/6/2010

A must read!  Enjoyed it from the from the first page to the last.

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"Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster"
By Scott Stevenson

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.47 out of 5 (34 Clubie's ratings)


The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
 
 

Life as a Learning Experience



Does seeing life as a "learning experience" really help you make it through tough times, i.e. how would you choose to handle a challenging situation such as cancer, divorce, a market crash, a forest fire? (From the Author)

Big Picture Transformation



How does using "the Magic" and seeing life from the Big Picture View effect and transform each of the characters?

Great Depression



How does the fact that Scott's mother, Lilly, lived through the Great Depression influence Scott?

Choosing our Experiences



Part of the philosophy of "the magic" is that we choose our experiences in life, good and bad. Do you think each of the characters chose what they went through? If so, why would they make that choice? And what did they gain from the experiences?

I don't deal with Percentages...



p.55 Mary [Susan's doctor] replies, "I don't deal with percentages. I deal with individuals. What works for one person doesn't work for another. I try to see each patient as a unique individual not a statistic." How did that thought change how Susan dealt with her cancer?

Western vs. Holistic



What do you feel about Susan switching from the western approach of treating her cancer to the holistic approach?  What method would you choose?  Do you have any friends who have used the holistic approach? (From the Author)

No Coincidences



What did you think when Scott said (p. 129) "Beth, would you rather believe it was just a coincidence that you ended up with an abusive person and that you have no control over whom you meet? Or would you rather believe that you chose to meet Tree so that you could have this experience with him?" How did this effect Beth?

Tree



What do you feel about Tree, Beth's abusive ex-husband who dragged on their divorce for four years?  (From the Author)

Choosing Anger



While placing the septic tank, Scott chooses to let himself be angry and get mad at Susan. What did Scott gain or learn from that experience?

Retirement Savings



SPOILER ALERT: Why do you think Scott and Susan chose to lose most of their retirement savings? Do you agree with Scott that his greed had a lot to do with why he lost their money?

FIRE!



As to not spoil the ending... did you feel the house surviving (or not surviving) was the best thing for Scott & Susan? Why?

Looks Easy Enough



The title of the book is "Looks Easy Enough" how does the title fit with the experiences of Scott, Susan & Beth? How does the title fit into "the magic"?

Nicknames



Susan and Scott have several nicknames for one another throughout the book. Which were your favorites and which do you think were the most appropriate?







Discussion Questions by BookBundlz

Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
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What Readers Have Said:

“Looks Easy Enough is the EAT, PRAY, LOVE for guys ― which women will adore. Men will love this book because it’s all about process ― step-by-step how-to knowledge. Women will love it because it’s all about the things women value most: family, friends, spirituality, and love. The manuscript has a distinctive, humorous, intimate voice that is a joy to read. "                                                                                  ------------  Carol Gaskin, Editorial Alchemy

“When I read a good book and good writing, it makes me want to write – reading your book made me want to write!  I felt as if I was sitting down and catching up with an old friend over a cup of coffee.  It’s really a love story between you and Susan, also between you and your characters and with life – what you call the Magic."                                                                                                                                                             --------- Lynn Scozzari, Contributing Editor, San Diego Parent Magazine

“Scott, if my memory serves me right, wasn’t English Language your worst subject in school? Didn’t your report cards come home with mostly C’s and D’s? I can’t believe you actually wrote a book . . . especially one this good. I loved it!”                                       --------- Lilly Stevenson, Mother of the Author

“A fascinating tale and a superb read. I was really caught up in the story. Looks Easy Enough gave me an intimate view into the struggles of a patient trying to come to terms with a diagnosis of cancer and how best to treat it. Looks Easy Enough reminds me of Suzanne Somers’ recently published book KNOCKOUT which takes a critical look at how cancer is treated and some of the alternative methods available.”                                                                                                                   -                  -------- Dr. Michael B. Schachter, The Schachter Center for                            Complementary Medicine

“I liked Looks Easy Enough a lot.  You certainly followed through on your subtitle, A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce and Disaster.  My favorite part was the construction chapters.  It’s amazing to think that you and a crew of five females (from grade-school to senior citizen) built your house by yourselves."                                           ---------- Susan Carter, Deputy Director, San Dieguito River Park

“I devoured your book in two sittings!  I thought the sections detailing your ups and downs in the stock market were excellent – so honest and open when it came to taking a good hard look at yourself.  I can’t wait to read the sequel . . . you are writing a sequel?”                                                                                                                      -                --------- John Maizer, Attorney-At-Law, New York, NY

“An absolute excellent, excellent piece of work! I feel as if I’ve been visiting with a very close friend for the past few days while reading your book. Your writing style is so easy and fun to read.  I admire your boldness to share life in such vivid detail (good/bad/ups/downs).  As I read – especially the fire chapters – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.”                                                                                                  -----------Maureen Breen, Julian Pie Company

“What a great book!  I thoroughly enjoyed it . . . so many laughs.  I definitely want to play myself in the movie!”                                                                                                         -                    ---------Dr. Paul Chasen M.D. F.A.C.S., La Jolla Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery







For more information, go to:



www.lookseasyenough.com











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The Fire, Day Five







SO FAR, SO GOOD,” I say to Susan (my wife), switching to four-wheel drive as the pavement ends and the gravel road begins. Two days after the Cedar Fire chased us from our home in Cuyamaca Woods (Julian, California), Susan and I are headed back up the mountain. We’re antsy to find out what happened to our community and to our home. We tried calling information hot lines, we listened to news reports, and we spoke to evacuated neighbors . . . all to no avail. The entire community is in the dark and anxious to know whether our homes are still standing. Susan and I have decided to find out for ourselves. We knew Highway 79, the main access road, would be closed, but I know a back way into Cuyamaca Woods on a dirt road through the Viejas Indian Reservation. I explored the area as a teenager, and Susan and I hiked parts of it during her training for the 3-Day Cancer Walk. We doubted there would be any roadblocks on these back roads.

We left the basement of Beth’s house (my sister and our temporary place of refuge) at six this morning before the morning rush hour and, on the way, stopped at a feed-and-grain to pick up a few supplies. We’d like to fill up the pond and spread some food around for the animals. We figured the wildlife, if any have survived, would be thirsty and hungry. We’re presently driving through a lush green area of gorgeous Black oaks and thick, flowing emerald grasses. Reports were that the Cedar Fire burned south into the Viejas Indian Reservation, but, as of yet, we see no signs of it.

Cresting a small rise in the gravel road, I make a sharp turn to the left . . . and, there . . . not twenty feet ahead . . . I see it. Hurriedly stomping on the brake pedal, I bring our vehicle to a skidding halt. Susan and I can’t believe what we’re looking at. Our mouths hang open, and our eyes open wide as we stare out at the nothingness of one naked, burned-out rolling hill after another naked, burned-out rolling hill fading off into the distance as far as the eye can see. The hills are completely denuded of all plant life and are covered in a thick, dark gray ash. It reminds me of a picture I saw in grade school of what the earth would look like after a nuclear attack. The power and the enormity of what we’re looking at is staggering.

“Whooooaa, Babe-O,” I mumble (my pet name for Susan).

“Whooooaa, Bub,” Susan mumbles back (her pet name for me).

Neither of us knows what to say. We don’t have the words to describe the devastation we’re looking at. We’re stunned by the abrupt change in the landscape and awed by the force it took to create such a change. One moment we’re in a beautiful, green, landscaped paradise and the next, total destruction. It’s as if someone drew a line on the ground and declared, “This side will burn, this side will not.”

“Whooooaa, Babe-O,” I repeat.

We still have a forty-five-minute drive on gravel roads before reaching Cuyamaca Woods. Continuing on through the ash-covered hills, we pass blackened masonry chimneys ― headstones marking the spot of deceased houses. We see thick steel guardrails that once lined the roads now charred, twisted, and bent like pretzels. The wooden guardrail posts have completely disappeared. Power poles are burned to the ground, and the power and telephone lines have vanished, melted into the ash. Steel road signs are bent, corroded, and melted into unrecognizable forms. Driveways lead to empty lots, in some cases not even a chimney standing, the houses completely disintegrated.

It’s utterly silent, no bird noises, no leaves rustling in the wind, no neighbors making neighborly noises, no sounds other than the soft crunching of our tires on the gravel road. It feels unnatural being the only ones in this huge area of silent devastation.

Fifteen minutes later, we come across a pocket of green vegetation; oaks, Manzanita brush, grasses, and a small shed, totally untouched by the fire. It’s a green oasis in the middle of a blackened moonscape. How this oasis survived, I have no idea.

A few miles further, we come across a beat-up old Ford pickup parked by the side of the road. A rancher and his wife are sitting in the cab. Rolling down her window, Susan says, “Everything okay?”

“Seeing if any of our cattle survived,” says the old rancher. “We had eighty head. Didn’t have time to move them before the fires hit. That wind was fierce.”

“Any luck?” asked Susan.

“Not yet. If you see any along the road, honk your horn and we’ll come and get ’em.”

“We’ll keep our eyes peeled,” Susan replies.

Susan and I hope the rancher and his wife find their cattle, but I can’t see how anything could have survived this fire.

The further we drive into this ash-covered land, the more the emptiness of the hillsides begins to grow on me. I’ve recovered from the initial shock, and I’m starting to see a beauty in the gray starkness of it all. In a small valley that used to be a grove of Black oaks, now stand only acre upon acre of blackened oak skeletons, not a green leaf in sight. The oaks resemble dancers frozen in space, with the morning sun casting long gray skeletal shadows onto the gray ash covering the ground. A clear blue sky contrasts above.

It’s beautiful.

“If any house has made it through the fire, I hope it’s Jimmy’s and Marge’s (our neighbors),” says Susan. “They’ve lived here longer than anyone, and they’re older. It would be much tougher for them to start over.”

I haven’t been thinking of our house since entering the burned area. I’ve been distracted by the power of the Cedar Fire and by the beauty and devastation of the terrain. Susan’s comment has reminded me of why we’ve come.

“I love you, Babe-O for thinking of our neighbors,” I say, squeezing Susan’s thigh.

We’re approaching Cuyamaca Woods from the downhill side of the valley, and I know as soon as we round the next bend we should be able to look up to a hillside a mile or so to our right to see if our house is still standing. I’m confident our house will be there, even after driving through this gray moonscape. My gut tells me it’s there. We’ve also passed a few more oases of greenery; a few houses have survived.

Rounding the next turn, we roll to a stop. It takes a moment for me to get my bearings and to realize that this unrecognizable valley is really our Cuyamaca Woods. The hills, the valleys, the ravines that two days ago were covered in thick stands of oaks and pines, are now completely barren, stripped to the bone and reduced to dark ash. Everything looks much closer and more exposed than I remember.

In the hope of recognizing which of these distant gray hills is ours, I place my arms on the steering wheel, lean forward, and peer through the windshield. I don’t recognize anything . . . and then I see it. Three-quarters of the way up a charred hillside sits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THIS CHAPTER, PLEASE GO TO PAGE 433 OF THE BOOK: LOOKS EASY ENOUGH.

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LOOKS EASY ENOUGH is Scott Stevenson’s first book.  The book is based on his personal experiences and on a lifetime of asking questions, keeping his eyes and ears open, and trying to figure out what makes this funny world of ours go round.  Scott, his wife Susan, and their feisty young tabby Little Ray live in the small mountain town of Julian, California.  Scott’s future plans include carving a totem pole recounting the story of how he and Susan met and working on his tennis game in an effort to become the oldest person (over 60) to obtain an ATP tennis ranking.

Author-Danielle Trussoni
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Looks Easy Enough







August 2010’s BB Book Club Book Pick & Winner of 2010's "The Book Pick" Contest:



Looks Easy Enough By Scott Stevenson







So, it turns out the wine theme in this book was Sparkling Cider... not exactly wine, but it is a good alcohol free alternative. So we "popped the corks" and put 4 flavors of Martinelli's to the taste test.







FYI - "Popped the cork" is in quotes because 3 of the bottles had tops like a beer and one was a screw top. So unless you are planning on drinking it all down, don't forget to have a cork on hand.











Winner:



Sparkling Apple-Grape



The sweetest of the four, with a hint of spice, this cider proved to be the most complex and tasty. A fine beverage to sip all on it's own.







2nd Place:



Sparkling Apple-Pomegranate



A little milder than the grape varietal, this cider would be well paired with a nice steak or duck dish.







3rd Place:



Sparkling Cider



A classic - perfect with desserts or on it's own. The apple flavor was bolder and much more prominent, so perhaps that is why it only received 3rd place - this wino's taste buds prefer the grape!







4th Place:



Sparkling Classic Lemonade



Citric on the nose, this one was a little on the tart side. Though I can imagine on a hot day with a roast beef sandwich this would hit the spot.

Apparently there is a Pink Lemonade version too... but four varieties were enough to create a very competitive burping contest all ready. (My wife, of course, won with the loudest burp of all.)







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