Saturday, November 28, 2015

Free book for Kindle (Nov 28-30)

The Not So Perfect Heroine ~ by Gloria Atcheson, 2014, fiction

Elizabeth seems to have her life together.  She is married to a great guy, has two wonderful children, and appears to be happy and content. But, the truth of the matter is, most days, she doesn’t even get dressed.  Her house is a disaster zone filled with clutter and trash, and she is living in complete and utter chaos — you know, the kind that keeps you from ever inviting anyone over.  But Elizabeth finds hope one day, when she stumbles across an intriguing post on Facebook.  She discovers that “FlyLady” is coming to her town and decides to investigate the topic.  Slowly but surely, she learns about the FlyLady system for overcoming clutter and chaos in the home — though implementing it in her own life proves quite a challenge.  As she learns the ropes, however, she is faced with various difficulties that make it nearly impossible to continue her journey out of chaos.  You’ll be inspired as you watch Elizabeth emerge with newfound skill, organization, and comfort — because, if a not-so-perfect heroine can do it, so can you!
Gloria Johnson Atcheson, the author, posted this on Facebook yesterday:
"Happy Black Friday.  I wanted to run a special today but unfortunately it won't start till tomorrow.  Nov 28-30 The Not So Perfect Heroine will be free for the kindle. Spread the word.  Have a great time reading and Happy Holidays!!"
I was surprised to find on the very first page that "her town" in the novel is Chattanooga, my hometown.  The story looks interesting, so I downloaded it for my Kindle.  Who else is downloading it?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Beginning ~ with a let-down

The Jew Store ~ by Stella Suberman, 1998,  memoir (Tennessee)
My mother always said she'd felt something of a let-down when she first saw the sign reading CONCORDIA TOWN LIMITS.  They had been riding for three days along rutted dirt roads north and west of Nashville.
"For a real bargain, while you're making a living, you should make also a life," according to Aaron Bronson.  In 1920, in small town America, the ubiquitous dry goods store — suits and coats, shoes and hats, work clothes and school clothes, yard goods and notions — was usually owned by Jews and often referred to as "the Jew store."  That's how Stella Suberman's father's store — Bronson's Low-Priced Store, in Concordia, Tennessee — was known locally.  The Bronsons were the first Jews to ever live in that tiny town (1920 population: 5,318) of one main street, one bank, one drugstore, one picture show, one feed and seed, one hardware, one barber shop, one beauty parlor, one blacksmith, and many Christian churches.  Aaron Bronson moved his family all the way from New York City to that remote corner of northwest Tennessee to prove himself a born salesman — and much more.  A Jew, born into poverty in prerevolutionary Russia and orphaned from birth, finds his way to America, finds a trade, finds a wife, and sets out to find his fortune in a place where Jews are unwelcome.  Suberman turns the clock back to a time when rural America was more peaceful but no less prejudiced, when educated liberals were suspect, and when the Klan was threatening to outsiders.
I wonder what this would have felt like, 95 years ago.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday Thirteen ~ revved to go

The only rule for Thursday Thirteen is to write about 13 things.  The New Thursday 13 is hosted by Country Dew @ Blue Country Magic and Colleen @ Loose Leaf Notes.  If you want to read lists by other people or play along yourself, here's the linky for this week.

1.  Words:
Does a person get "revved" at ordination, as in "she is now the Rev. Jacobs"?
2.  Family:

I've been thinking about doing these Thursday Thirteen posts since one granddaughter's 27th birthday on October 1st.  In the meantime, one of my grandsons got engaged and another grandson took his family on vacation, where 4-year-old Jaxon climbed high.
3.  Health:
My most recent doctor's appointment showed that my blood sugar level (A1C) is down to 6.0, so the doctor took me off Metformin (for diabetes) completely.  We'll see whether diet and exercise is enough to keep me "pre-diabetic" without any meds.
4.  Food:

Donna invited me to help her eat this Frito Taco Pie.  She used crescent roll triangles as the base, ground beef with taco seasoning, tomatoes, olives, shredded cheese, and corn chips.  Maybe more delicious stuff — I don't remember — but it was so goooood!
5.  Weather:
As I compose this Thursday Thirteen on Wednesday evening, it's 57° and cloudy with patchy drizzle possible, here in St. Louis.  On Saturday, we had wet snow flurries.  On Sunday, my building cast a long shadow on a sunny day.
6.  Neighbors:
I am now an "ambassador" to two new residents:  Rosie and Judy.  I'm supposed to take each of them on a tour of our home and give them information about various areas and activities — from the computer center and library to the fitness center, from the Circle@Crown Café to the beauty shop, from the laundry room to the community garden and greenhouse, from the culinary studio to the theater room with its big-screen television.
7.  Activities:
I took Judy to the October Birthday Bash shortly after she moved in. The Crown Center gave me tickets to enjoy a complimentary dinner and to attend any program or bus trip free so I can accompany Rosie and Judy, but I'd rather give the tickets to the newbies, instead.
8.  Books:
I made the "mistake" of going to a bookstore with my friend Joan, so of course I bought a book.  Only one, though, which I consider just short of a miracle.  Zen and the Art of Consciousness by Susan Blackmore (pb, 2011) was first published in hardback as Ten Zen Questions in 2009.  Here's a summary of the book:  "Who are you?  When are you?  What were you conscious of a moment ago?  This groundbreaking book sees acclaimed psychologist Susan Blackmore combining the latest scientific theories about mind, self, and consciousness with a lifetime’s practice of Zen.  Framed by ten critical questions derived from Zen teachings and designed to expand your understanding and experience of consciousness, this book doesn’t offer final ― or easy ― answers, but instead provides an inspiring exploration of how intellectual inquiry and meditation can tackle some of today’s greatest scientific mysteries."
9.  Women's Issues:
One woman wrote about "the every day sexism I’m seeing and witnessing and watching," sexism that nearly every woman and girl knows.  We take "the path of least precariousness" and "mastering the art of de-escalation" is "the reality of being a woman in our world."  Along with this writer, "I’m realizing that men can’t be expected to understand how pervasive everyday sexism is if we don’t start telling them and pointing to it when it happens."  When I discovered this article a couple of days ago, it already had 609 comments.  I printed out the article and several of the comments to use in a discussion group.
10. Catty remarks:
The other day, Clawdia saw sun reflecting off my watch and crept up on it as it "sat" there on the heating/cooling unit.  At first, I moved my arm and let her follow it, but then I held it in place near where she crouched, watching.  She gently lifted a paw, touched it, but couldn't feel anything there.  So she sniffed it, still getting an unsatisfactory clue to what that light really WAS.  That's when she turned away and sat under the step-stool to ponder the mystery.  She seriously likes lights and reflections.  Soon she spotted it again, that light on the wall.  This time, she nailed it!  I took a dozen pictures of her swiping at that white "bug" on the wall.  Unfortunately, I didn't succeed in getting one of both Clawdia and the white spot on the wall.  The white spot is invisible on her black fur, which must have absorbed the light.
11.  Discussion groups:
I accidentally started a new book group when one resident who'd had surgery couldn't go with me to my church book club because of the many steps up to the home of the hostess.  Donna and I agreed to talk with her about the book.  Uh-huh, I invited others and before I knew it, we were planning what to discuss next time.  Donna will lead our December meeting about To Kill a Mockingbird and our January meeting about Harper Lee's recently published book, Go Set a Watchman.  Donna wants us to think about both the scene and the character that most stayed with us from the first book.  What would be your answer?
12.  Friends:
Shon posted this on Facebook night before last:  "My dear friend, Bonnie Setliffe Jacobs, left an indelible mark on my life over a decade ago. It is through her wisdom, generosity, and faith that I was able to reconcile the certainty of my heart with the confusion in my mind. It's a debt I'll never be able to repay. However, I can promise to follow her example: Openness! Maintain a open heart, an open mind, and to never allow my faith to remain stagnant. It's a living, growing thing! My 24th day of expressing gratitude is dedicated to you, Bonnie. Love and peace to you always!"
13.  Facebook:
Do any of your Facebook friends seem to think the more they "share" Jesus the better?  That's why I loved it when I found this "share."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Library Loot ~ Harper Lee's first novel

To Kill a Mockingbird ~ by Harper Lee, 1960, fiction (Alabama)
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960.  It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.  Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior — to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.  Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
My book club and my NEW book club (more on that in a minute) are both discussing this oldie in December, so I need to re-read it immediately.  Both will then read and discuss Harper Lee's second novel (second published, though written first).  I'll write about Go Set a Watchman next month.  I'll explain more in tomorrow's post about how I accidentally started a new book group when one of my neighbors who'd had surgery couldn't go with me to mine.  We got together separately, joined by several other neighbors.
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to share the names of books we checked out of the library.  See what others got this week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TWOsday ~ TWO books I heard about last week

St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive ~ by Carl J. Ekberg and Sharon K. Person, 2015
The standard story of St. Louis's founding tells of fur traders Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau hacking a city out of wilderness.  St. Louis Rising overturns such gauzy myths with the contrarian thesis that French government officials and institutions shaped and structured early city society.  Of the former, none did more than Louis St. Ange de Bellerive.  His commitment to the Bourbon monarchy and to civil tranquility made him the prime mover as St. Louis emerged during the tumult following the French and Indian War.  Drawing on new source materials, the authors delve into the complexities of politics, Indian affairs, slavery, and material culture that defined the city's founding period.  Their alternative version of the oft-told tale uncovers the imperial realities — as personified by St. Ange — that truly governed in the Illinois Country of the time, and provides a trove of new information on everything from the fur trade to the arrival of the British and Spanish after the Seven Years' War.
Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence ~ by Jonathan Sacks, 2015
Sacks tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God.  If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, he argues, then it must also form part of the solution.  When individuals are motivated by what he calls "altruistic evil" — and also think "my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong" — then violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome.  But through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths.  By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible’s seminal stories of sibling rivalry:  Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah.
"Abraham himself sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith.  That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith.  It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief.  It is our task to be a blessing to the world.  The use of religion for political ends is not righteousness but idolatry.  To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege."
 Here is an eloquent call for people of goodwill from all faiths and none to stand together, confront the religious extremism that threatens to destroy us, and declare:  Not in God’s Name.

I Bad Faith
1 Altruistic Evil ... p. 3
2 Violence and Identity ... p. 27
3 Dualism ... p. 44
4 The Scapegoat ... p. 66
5 Sibling Rivalry ... p. 87
II Siblings
6 The Half-Brothers ... p. 107
7 Wrestling with the Angel ... p. 125
8 Role Reversal ... p. 144
9 The Rejection of Rejection ... p. 161
III The Open Heart
10 The Stranger ... p. 177
11 The Universality of Justice, the Particularity of Love ... p. 189
12 Hard Texts ... p. 207
13 Relinquishing Power ... p. 220
14 Letting Go of Hate ... p. 238
15 The Will to Power or the Will to Life ... p. 252
I've already gotten St. Louis Rising from the library, but I'm number 24 of 25 holds on the newly published Not in God's Name.  My library has twelve copies, but I suspect — if I want to read it anytime soon — I may have buy myself a copy.  I may do that, since my study groups want to discuss Syrian refugees, terrorism, and Islam.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Shadow Sunday

Shadow of my building, as seen from the sixth floor