Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ joy is like the rain

Books I'm reading
A Short History of the World ~ by Christopher Lascelles, 2011, history

This book gives a broad overview of the generally accepted version of events so that non-historians will feel less ignorant when discussing the past.  It principally covers key people, events, and empires since the dawn of the first civilizations around 3500 BCE, making it an excellent place to start to bring your historical knowledge up to scratch.

Wonder ~ by R. J. Palacio, 2014, children's fiction

"I won't describe what I look like.  Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."  August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school.  Starting in the fifth grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid — but his new classmates can’t get past his extraordinary face.

Just finished
57.  Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback ~ by Robyn Davidson, 1982, 2012, memoir (Australia), 8/10

"In different places, survival requires different things, based on the environment.  Capacity for survival may be the ability to be changed by environment" (p. 192).
Most recent Kindle purchase

The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language ~ by Melvyn Bragg, 2011

Here is the riveting story of the English language, from its humble beginnings as a regional dialect to its current preeminence as the one global language, spoken by more than two billion people worldwide. In this groundbreaking book, Melvyn Bragg shows how English conquered the world. It is a magnificent adventure, full of jealousy, intrigue, and war—against a hoard of invaders, all armed with their own conquering languages, which bit by bit, the speakers of English absorbed and made their own.      

"Joy Is Like the Rain" being sung by children in 2010.  This is my favorite piano accompaniment to the tune, especially the happy little additions tinkling between the phrases.  Today, I couldn't get it out of my head, so I'm sharing it with you.  If this video quits working, watch it on YouTube.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tracks ~ by Robyn Davidson

Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback ~ by Robyn Davidson, 1982, 2012, memoir (Australia), 8/10
The story of one woman’s solo adventure across the Australian outback, accompanied by her faithful dog Diggity and four unpredictable camels.  Robyn Davidson was twenty-seven when she started out from Alice Springs, a dodgy town at the frontier of the vast Australian desert.  She was intent on walking the 1,700 miles of desolate landscape between Alice Springs and the Indian Ocean, a personal pilgrimage.  This is the story of her journey and the love-hate relationships she develops along the way ― with the Red Center of Australia, with aboriginal culture, with a handsome photographer, and especially with her lovable and cranky camels:  Bub, Dookie, Zeleika, and Goliath.
In that cover photo above, the little camel behind the larger three is Goliath, Zeleika's baby.  Diggity dog is bringing up the end of the line.  I wish I'd found this map before I started reading the book.  Robyn, who walked most of the way while leading the camels, pondered some deep things on this journey:
"In different places, survival requires different things, based on the environment.  Capacity for survival may be the ability to be changed by environment" (p. 192).

"The good Lord in his infinite wisdom gave us three things to make life bearable ― hope, jokes and dogs, but the greatest of these was dogs" (p. 207).

"When we stopped at midday, I always sat the camels down under some shade for an hour's rest.  They deserved it, welcomed it, and would sit gazing off into the distance chewing their cuds, engrossed in deep camel speculation about the meaning of life" (p. 212).
Finally, here she is at the end of the journey, in the ocean with one of the camels.  Can you read the words at the bottom of the picture?  "How do you say farewell to camels that have crossed a desert with you?  I found no right way except to take them for one last swim in the ocean before leaving them with..."  Here's the rest of that thought:  She left the camels with Jan and David Thomson of Woodleigh station (p. 247).
"The camels were thunderstruck at the sight of that ocean.  They had never seen so much water.  Globs of foam raced up the beach and tickled their feet so that they jumped along on all fours ― Bub nearly sent me flying.  They would stop, turn to stare at it, leap sideways, look at one another with their noses all pointed and ridiculous, then stare at it again, then leap forward again" (p. 250).

"Jan and David arrived with the truck and I loaded my now plump and cheeky beasties on it and took them back to their retirement home" (p. 252).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Caturday salad

Yesterday, Bonnie put this grass down near my food and water, and she even said "Good girl" when she caught me eating it.  That was kind of odd, since she usually yells as me when I nibble her green plants.  She says I'm not supposed to eat them, but for some reason she is letting me eat this green stuff.  It was good!

Here's the other picture she took of me, but she says my head was moving when I chewed.

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^. .^<

Beginning ~ with a heart attack

Leave Me ~ by Gayle Forman, 2016, fiction (Pennsylvania), 9/10
"Maribeth Klein was working late, waiting to sign off on the final page proofs of the December issue, when she had a heart attack."
Hmm, I finished it before I was able to post it for Book Beginnings on Friday.  I'm happy to report it rates a 9 of 10 from me, an excellent book.
Maribeth Klein is a harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.  Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves.  But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective.  Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ busy, busy, busy

My life in books

Currently reading
Vinegar Girl ~ by Anne Tyler, 2016, fiction

Kate Battista feels stuck.  How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny?  Plus, she’s always in trouble at work ― her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.  Dr. Battista has other problems.  After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough.  His research could help millions.  There’s only one problem:  his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported.  And without Pyotr, all would be lost.  When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying ― as usual ― on Kate to help him.  Kate is furious:  this time he’s really asking too much.  But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?
Completed so far in June

50.  This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class ~ by Elizabeth Warren, 2017, politics, 10/10
       From the 1930s through the 1970s, America deliberately invested in opportunity.  The government worked hard to expand chances for millions of people:  the chance for children to get a good education, the chance for workers to build economic security, and the chance for seniors to retire with dignity.
       And here's the best part:  this dynamic investment in the future worked.  We made it work for all of us, not just those at the top.
       It wasn't perfect, but for almost half a century, incomes in our country grew across the board.  (p. 105).
51.  Flora ~ by Gail Godwin, 2013, fiction (North Carolina), 9/10
"There are things we can't undo, but perhaps there is a kind of constructive remorse that could transform regrettable acts into something of service to life" (p. 1).

"When did remorse fall into disfavor?  It was sometime during the second half of my life" (p. 152).
52.  The Forgotten Seamstress ~ by Liz Trenow, 2014, fiction (Britain), 10/10
"I've stitched my love into this quilt,
sewn it neatly, proud and true.
Though you have gone, I must live on,
and this will hold me close to you" (loc. 362).
53.  The Cape Ann ~ by Faith Sullivan, 1988, 2010, fiction (Minnesota), 8/10
"Sister never congratulated us.  Why would one make a fuss over a child learning that which was needed in order to be spared the tortures of hell, torments so heinous they could only be devised by a God of infinite ingenuity and love?" (p. 28).

"Whatever they tell you, deep thinker, God loves us all.  Me, you, and your aunt's baby."  Wouldn't it be lovely if God was that simple?  (p. 202).
54.  Leave Me ~ by Gayle Forman, 2016, fiction (Pennsylvania), 9/10
"Maribeth Klein was working late, waiting to sign off on the final page proofs of the December issue, when she had a heart attack" (p. 3).
My life outside books

Exercise report
Donna and I have decided to exercise together, rather than try to keep up with the groups that are too energetic, for me at least.  I found Balance Exercises for Seniors online which aim to "strengthen your foundation to avoid a fall."  It makes sense to me and includes ten balance exercises:  heel-to-toe walk, stand on one foot, weight shift, leg raise walk, side leg raise, back leg raise, heel raise, chair stand, side step, and balance with closed eyes.  These are done with a sturdy chair nearby to hold onto, while developing better core strength.
The insert in the clear cover of my handy-dandy notebook shows a woman with an exercise weight in one hand and a plate of food in the other (see above).  Below that I've added:  Exercise and Eat Right.  I'm still working on the DASH Diet, which is partly about colorful meals, like the one here that Donna made a couple of weeks ago.  I need to get back to planning meals better, tracking my exercise, and recording things like my blood pressure and weight.  That really does help me keep up the good habits.  By the way, I joined the DASH Diet group on Facebook to see what others do and to get good ideas.
Bulletin board
June is rather minimalist, though people have added other bits over these first couple of weeks, rearranging the pages each time.
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Exercise ~ and all that jazz

Hosted by Joy's Book Blog
Apparently, I can't make myself exercise alone in my apartment on a regular basis.  I need a group setting to keep myself focused.  Yesterday, I went to the Introduction to Movement, a 30-minute class.  Today, I joined the Better Balance class, which also meets on Thursdays.  Tomorrow, it will be Fitness with Melissa and maybe Fitness on Demand a couple of hours later.

Our instructors usually have music playing in the background.  The Better Balance rotation included "And All That Jazz," which I noticed because a few weeks ago a musical group performed "All That Jazz" here at the Crown Center.  The song has come up in more than one exercise group since then.  I'm loving it!

If this video quits working, view it on YouTube.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ art, food, and books

It doesn't usually occur to me to photograph what I'm eating, but while having lunch with my friend Donna this week at The Shack where people are given markers to write on the walls, I made an exception.  Next to me was a magnificent, small dragon which was too low for Donna to see from her side of the table.  So I whipped out my camera to show it to her ― and now to you.  A black-and-green dragon amidst the graffiti.


While I had the cell-phone camera in hand, I also snapped what we had ordered because it arrived at that moment.  Serendipity?  I guess.  Anyway, I had this huge burrito on chili covered in cheese and Fritos, full of bacon and hash browns.

Donna had a croissant with scrambled eggs and sausage called "Why the French Hate Us."  Donna's hash browns were on the side.  We both took half home for the next day's lunch.

 More Art

And now for the art of the bulletin board.  I've started changing the board by the elevator on my floor, the 6th floor, every month.  It's a volunteer thing, which I've done three times so far, as you can see.  For March, my neighbor Tiny added St. Patrick to my two nature pictures.

The focus for April was Earth Day, with "Take One" word-search puzzles hanging from the bottom of the bulletin board.

For May, I decided to unclutter the board and open it up for a breath of fresh air.  By the way, most floors have an extra push-pin or so for events that come along during the month.  At the bottom in this one is information about the Resident Council meeting for that Thursday, and (if you click to enlarge the photo) maybe you can see the announcement is in English, Russian, and Chinese. We're a very diverse community, here in our retirement center.


In these first three weeks of May, I've completed these seven books:

39.  Golden State ~ by Michelle Richmond, 2014, fiction (California), 9/10
"Without a child, are we even a family?" (loc. 2194)
40.  Off the Page ~ by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, 2015, fiction (New Hampshire), 8/10
"If a character sits in a book and no one reads it, is he truly alive?" (p. 4).
41.  Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths ~ by Karen Armstrong, 1997, history, 8/10
"Mythology was never designed to describe historically verifiable events that actually happened.  It was an attempt to express their inner significance or to draw attention to realities that were too elusive to be discussed in a logically coherent way" (loc. 209).
42.  Still Time ~ by Jean Hegland, 2015, fiction, 8/10
"I keep thinking his mind is like a broken necklace ― some beads are lost forever while the rest are just scattered everywhere" (loc. 1230).

"He has studied Shakespeare's work for the length of Shakespeare's lifetime, but he has forgotten how King Lear ends" (loc. 2990).
43.  I Shall Be Near to You ~ by Erin Lindsay McCabe, 2014, fiction, 10/10
"I never had so much of nothing to do before in my whole life" (p. 76).
44. The Tenth Justice ~ by Brad Meltzer, 2011, fiction (Washington, DC), 8/10
"Every day, the Court is flooded with petitions seeking certiorari, or 'cert.'  When four justices grant cert, it means the Court will hear the case.  To save time, we [Supreme Court clerks] read through the cert petitions, put them into a standard memo format, and recommend whether the justice should grant or deny cert" (p. 16).
45.  A Pain in the Tuchis: A Mrs. Kaplan Mystery ~ by Mark Reutlinger, 2015, mystery, 9/10
"As I have said before, death at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors is not what you would call an unusual event.  Sad, yes.  Unusual, no.  Given the average age and state of health of the residents, it is perhaps surprising we are not having memorial services on a daily basis" (loc. 74).

"Listen, we're not getting any younger, you and I, and we should be having all the new experiences we can, while we can" (loc. 2149).
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.