Friday, July 31, 2015

Beginning ~ with "no burial's"

Opening lines:
In the cemetery tucked behind First Baptist Bible, next to the broad-leaf tobacco patch twelve miles south of town, scrawled-out writing on a buckled, tin sign reads:  "NO BURIAL'S WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION."  Those words piss off Mama — dead men don't need no rules — but she obliged.
Simmer and Smoke: A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice ~ by Peggy Lampman, 2015, fiction (Georgia)
1. Assemble ingredients:  Shelby Preston, a young, single mother trapped in a hardscrabble life in rural Georgia, escapes her reality as she fantasizes herself a respected chef in a kitchen of gleaming stainless steel and pans shimmering with heat.  Mallory Lakes, an Atlanta newspaper food writer, may lose her job and searches for her muse in a shot glass of illusion.

2. Simmer:  Mallory secures her job by crafting a zealous doppelgänger to satisfy the expectations of an illusive cyber audience.  This also mollifies the memories of her lover who recently bolted with no warning.  Shelby persuades her mother to take care of her daughter so she can pursue her dream of going to chef school in Atlanta.  She cooks them a special dinner said to bring good luck; Lord knows her family could use a pot of something good.

3. Smoke:  Chasing desires and ambitions, the women’s lives unravel down a path beyond the kitchen, then weave together in an unsettling culinary landscape of organic farms and shadowy borders, some borders not meant to be crossed.  As Mallory combats her demons with booze and pills, and Shelby battles the odds stacked against her for becoming a chef, the women discover what’s really worth fighting for.
Ten percent of net proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to The Southern Poverty Law Center.


Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Caturday ~ choice of food

When Diane of Animal House delivered Clawdia to me on Thursday, she brought a bag of chicken and turkey flavored dry cat food.  Clawdia didn't want it, even though it's what she had been fed since the end of May.  In the first 24 hours with me, she ate very little of it, perhaps two or three hard morsels at a time.  I kept getting the feeling she was trying to tell me she likes tuna. Since she wasn't eating, I went out yesterday and bought a couple of cans of soft paté.  Last night, she got very excited to hear me "pop" the can of Ocean Whitefish and Tuna Dinner.  She ate the first spoonful by grabbing that sucker out of the dish so she could eat it on the ground like a "real" cat.  (See photographic "proof" of her kill above.)

When she begged for more, I gave her a second spoonful of the paté, which she also gobbled quickly.  Yes, she really did want fish, as I had "understood" her to tell me.  She then sat on the table grooming herself and acting pleased that she has — finally! — gotten through.  A human "got it" and provided her with something edible, specifically something fishy!  When she asked for more again, I said, "No, that's enough for now."  She had eaten about a fourth of the can, every possible smidgen of the wet food, leaving nothing for later.  She was happy and full of food.  Maybe she would weigh more than her current 6-pounds-and-1-ounce if she could eat what she wants.  Maybe that missing canine tooth is an indication that she has trouble eating the hard dry food and wants soft food.  Maybe she'll also like the Liver and Chicken Dinner in the second can I brought home for her.

We went to bed and I, at least, slept soundly until 5:00 a.m. when a furry little body kept bonking me in the head and meowing at me to feed her, feed her!  I got up and did her bidding.  She had by then eaten nearly a half can of the paté.  Here it is just after noon, and there's a quarter of a can left of her food.  She hasn't finished off all of her breakfast, but she's full enough and napping on the chair pushed under the dining table — which effectively hides her from any danger she has not yet found in our apartment.  She's comfy on her cushion and close enough to keep an eye on me as I sit at my desk typing this.  What more could a fur-girl want?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beginning ~ with a pair of crazy names

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie ~ by Ayana Mathis, 2013, fiction (Pennsylvania)
"Philadelphia and Jubilee!" August said when Hattie told him what she wanted to name their twins.  "You cain't give them babies no crazy names like that!"
My friend Donna got this book from the library the other day, and I've decided to read it, too.  Here's the story:
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd, swept up by the tides of the Great Migration, flees Georgia and heads north.  Full of hope, she settles in Philadelphia to build a better life.  Instead she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment, and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins are lost to an illness that a few pennies could have prevented.  Hattie gives birth to nine more children, whom she raises with grit, mettle, and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave.  She vows to prepare them to meet a world that will not be kind.  Their lives, captured here in twelve luminous threads, tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage — and a nation's tumultuous journey.
I found an excellent review of the book, making me even more excited about jumping into this novel.


Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Books for my great-grandbabies

When I visited them last week, I took my 7-month-old great-grandsons Micah and Jonathan a couple of books (the first two below).  My friend Donna gave them the one about reading in bed.

Toes, Ears, and Nose! ~ by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Karen Katz, 2003, children's lift-the-flap board book
Baby is bundled in a mountain of clothes.  Peek under the flaps of clothing to discover toes, ears, nose, and so forth as baby learns about the body.
Inside my boots I've got
[lift the flap to see] toes,
and beneath my scarf is a
[lift the flap to see] nose!
Itsy Bitsy Spider and Other Rhymes ~ illustrated by Samantha Meredith, 2015, children's board book
This colorful collection of classic nursery rhymes includes Humpty Dumpty, Three Blind Mice, Old MacDonald, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Little Bo Peep, Five Little Ducks, and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, plus several others.
Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed ~ by Eileen Christelow, 2014, children's board book
After their mama reads to them, it's bedtime for the Five Little Monkeys. But they can't resist reading just one more book ... or three! Soon Mama is so tired of trying to get her monkeys to quiet down and go to sleep, she picks up their books and takes them with her. At last, the monkeys are ready to settle down ... until they hear strange sounds from down the hall. Could it be that Mama likes to read in bed, too?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A story of TWO adoptions

A Home for Copper: A Story of Adoption ~ by Susan Carter, 2014, children's, 10/10
"I was born on a cold, snowy day in an alley."  She is picked up by a dog catcher and put into a cage.  One day, a boy and his parents see her sitting in a corner of her cage, shivering.  Yes, they rescued her and took Copper home with them.
While in Chattanooga last week to visit my family, I met the author of this book.  This is a true story, she told me.  The dedication page says:  "This is dedicated to Copper, the most amazng dog I have ever known.  And to Gabriel, my son, who has made my journey sweeter."  The little boy in the book just happens to be named Gabe.

As one who is in the process of adopting a rescued cat, I loved the book.  When I got home to St. Louis, I went back to Animal House to visit the little black cat I'd met before my trip.  She accepted me and is going through the process with the vet of getting chipped and taken care of before she comes to live with me in a couple of days.  Animal House called her by a different name, but the little kitty will become Clawdia.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Clawdia, my newest friend

Today, on my second visit with this beautiful girl, I got down on the floor beside her and asked if she wanted to come live with me.  She snuggled against my hand and chirped a "meow," which I took as "Yes."  Next week, on Thursday the 23rd, she will get to leave Animal House, a cat rescue and adoption center, and move in with me.  It was raining the day someone left her outside in a cat kennel, and the rain washed away whatever was written on the attached note.  Not knowing her name, they called her "Misty," for the rainy day.  Since her front paws have been declawed, I think Clawdia is a better name.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Beginning ~ with a train ride

Go Set a Watchman ~ by Harper Lee, 2015, fiction (Alabama)
Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical.  Over her breakfast coffee, she watched the last of Georgia’s hills recede and the red earth appear, and with it tin-roofed houses set in the middle of swept yards, and in the yards the inevitable verbena grew, surrounded by whitewashed tires.  She grinned when she saw her first TV antenna atop an unpainted Negro house; as they multiplied, her joy rose.

Jean Louise Finch always made this journey by air, but she decided to go by train from New York to Maycomb Junction on her fifth annual trip home.  For one thing, she had the life scared out of her the last time she was on a plane:  the pilot elected to fly through a tornado.  For another thing, flying home meant her father rising at three in the morning, driving a hundred miles to meet her in Mobile, and doing a full day’s work afterwards:  he was seventy-two now and this was no longer fair.
Lots of people are waiting eagerly for Harper Lee's new novel about Jean Louise Finch, better known to us as Scout.  By clicking on the title above, you can read the first chapter of this book, which won't be published until Tuesday, July 14th.
Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird.  Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.  This story features many of the characters from her first book, now some twenty years later.  Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch — Scout — struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.  It explores how the characters are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America.


Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.