Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday Thirteen ~ my current interests

1.  Here's Milton reading in the lobby yesterday.  I took a large-print Readers' Digest to leave on the table in the lobby, and he reached for it.  We both like to read the jokes and cartoons.  "Get caught reading" month is about to end today, so I snapped his photo.

2.  Some of us have too many interests to keep up with.  Besides blogging, I attend meetings and read books and discuss issues with friends.  Here are some of them, starting with books:

3.  I'm interested in racism, much in the news right now.  Yesterday, I posted about Katie Ganshert's 2018 novel No One Ever Asked.  Loss of accreditation meant black students were integrated into a nearby white school.

4.  Jodi Picoult’s 2016 novel Small Great Things also explores racial prejudice.  I read today that a teacher asked Jodi if she could donate a few books so the teacher could use this book to teach her students.  Jodi sent the request to the publisher, and they sent books to the teacher.  The story is no longer online, but it reminded me I had read the book in October 2016 and rated it a 10 of 10.
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience.  During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient.  The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child.  The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery.  Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
5.  I'm interested in the #MeToo movement and how many women can say, "Me, too."  When I attended a recent panel discussion, I counted 31 of us in the room.  Only nine were men, but every one of them (except the silent young man who accompanied a woman on the panel) spoke up, some repeatedly.  One was a last-minute replacement for a woman who was supposed to be on the panel and couldn't be there.  I noticed the men would jump into the conversation without waiting for the moderator (a woman) to call on them, while women were raising their hands and waiting to be called on.  Fewer than half the women spoke at all.  Finally, I'd had enough.  I waited patiently, with my hand up, until the moderator called on me.  When I started talking about women needing to have a voice and men doing the talking about #MeToo, a man near me interrupted me (!!!).  So I stood up and continued to talk ABOVE him.  We women had come to discuss the #MeToo situation, not to have it "man-splained" to us, though I didn't use that word.  A woman came up to me afterwards to thank me for speaking up.

6.  I got three more library books today.
  • Don't Tell Me You Are Afraid ~ by Giuseppe Catozzella, translated by Anne Milano Appel, 2014 (translation 2016), fiction ~ what a Somali woman would do to be able to compete in the Olympics.
  • When Breath Becomes Air ~ by Paul Kalanithi, 2016, memoir ~ a young doctor is dying of lung cancer.
  • In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History ~ by Mitch Landrieu, 2018, history ~ racism again, and taking down Confederate monuments.
 
7.  Last Friday, Donna and I went to hear Jon Meacham talk about his latest book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.  I snapped this as he returned her book after signing it.  A second later she told him I'm also from Chattanooga (his hometown, too), and he turned to smile at me.  We don't know each other, but I knew of him.

8.  Tomorrow evening, Donna and I will be attending a seminar called Building a Bigger Table with John Pavlovitz.
How can we extend unconditional welcome and acceptance in a world increasingly marked by bigotry, fear, and exclusion?  How can we create spiritual communities that are big enough for everyone?  What is the path forward in days that seem more hostile to diversity?
On Saturday morning, his class will be Rebounding from Compassion Fatigue.
To be compassionate is to bleed, to feel deeply for the damage around you and to be moved to respond.  This is a beautiful and invaluable instinct, but it is costly, too.  There is a toll the trauma of the world takes on us when we seek to step into that dangerous space and to work for healing and justice.  In days when so much need is at our doorsteps and on our news feeds, how do we attend to it all without becoming overwhelmed and consumed by it?  How do we avoid becoming martyrs of our own hearts?
Pavlovitz is the author of the 2017 book A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community.  I also keep up with his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said.

9.  I have already quoted from Barbara Ehrenreich's excellent 2018 book Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, which I rated 9 of 10.  (Click here to read those three quotes.)  My friend Joylynn posted a link to an article about the book:  "Why I'm Giving Up On Preventive Care."

10.  As I left my doctor's office after an appointment, I was asked to sign papers saying I'd pay for the test my doctor was referring me to, if Medicare didn't.  I asked how much, was told $455, and refused to sign the papers.  I didn't want the test in the first place and never followed up.  (So I don't know if Medicare would have paid or not.)  Now my online MyChart says I'm "overdue" for that test, but there's no compelling reason for me to NEED the test.  She had told me the test could show a problem "up to 20 years early."  I pointed out that I'm almost 80 and don't expect to LIVE another 20 more years!


11.  The Crown Center for Senior Living, where I live, has a new promo video.  How many people do you recognize?

12.  The video ends with this:
"Crown Center, a place where people are personally invited, made to feel welcome, enjoy the company of others, and expand their minds.  We hope to see you here soon."
13.  I think I've already been doing what today's suggestion on the Meaningful May calendar says:
"What do you want to change in the world?  Do something today."



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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

No One Ever Asked ~ by Katie Ganshert

No One Ever Asked ~ by Katie Ganshert, 2018, fiction (Missouri), 9.5/10
When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge:  Camille Gray, Jen Covington, and Anaya Jones.
I told you about them when I first got this book.  As I read the book, my focus began to center most on what was happening to Anaya, a recent graduate from college who was going into her first year of teaching.  She feels out of place from the beginning.  Her name is mangled by strangers, like when she meets her new school's principal.
"The gentleman in the suit spotted her.  'You must be . . . Anaya?'
"She stood and shook his hand.  'Uh-nigh-uh,' she corrected" (p. 16).
Names fascinate me.  Hers is part of the story, though I was two-thirds of the way through the book before I learned this:
"Anaya.  Hebrew for 'God has answered.' ... Anaya knew her name was also Nigerian, Ibo to be precise.  In that translation, it meant 'Look up to God,' which Mama loved just as much, if not more, than the Hebrew one. ... In Sanskrit, Anaya meant 'completely free' " (p. 232).
Anaya was my favorite character.  I was intrigued by the way she set up her classroom and engaged her second-grade students and how she felt about helping out in her own neighborhood:
"When she volunteered at the youth center, she wasn't an outsider.  She didn't have to function on two different levels like she did at O'Hare, where she wasn't just a new teacher learning the ropes but the black new teacher from South Fork, constantly aware of how she was being perceived.  It was exhausting" (p. 195).
Anaya is from the nearby school district that has lost its accreditation, teaching in the affluent district where students from her neighborhood were now being bussed.  She made it, but what about the other students still in her old high school?
"It wasn't fair.  A mother shouldn't have to feel the desperation that came when her bright child was stuck in a school that offered zero college prep classes.  A school that had over-crowded classrooms and underpaid teachers, many of whom were subs, because subs didn't require health insurance.  A school that might as well be a pipeline to the Missouri prison system, especially for boys without fathers.  Boys like Darius" (p. 53).
Darius is Anaya's younger brother, still in high school.  The situation the author has thrown these characters into seems especially vivid to me, maybe because I moved to St. Louis in 2014, just two months before Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, a suburb about seven miles from me.  In the Author's Note at the end of the book, Katie Ganshert tells us about...
"...an integration story that happened in the Saint Louis area in 2013.  Normandy and Riverview Gardens, two school districts composed almost entirely of black and brown students, lost their accreditation.  Both districts were severely underresourced and understaffed and had a high concentration of students from poverty.  The loss of accreditation triggered a Missouri transfer law that gave any student at a failing district the option of transferring elsewhere.  The failing school was not only responsible for transfer tuition; they had to provide transportation as well.  Normandy chose to bus students to Francis Howell, a mostly white, affluent district in a neighboring county" (p. 361).
Do I recommend this book?  Oh, yeah!  I gave it "only" a 9.5 out of ten because it was confusing to keep up with three main characters and their friends and families (using "Jen" and "Jan" names, for example).  I especially recommend it to my friend Joy, who regularly stands holding her "LOVE" sign with this group on Saturdays and attends school board meetings to help change that "school to prison pipeline" situation.  Thanks, Joy, for all you do.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ books and a flooded kitchen

Book I bought for my Kindle last night
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter ~ by Margareta Magnusson, 2018

"Death cleaning" sounds morbid, but is an invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings now, before your children or others have to do it for you.  Magnusson's radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations and makes the process uplifting rather than over-whelming.
Booking time to contemplate what I've read
This is sometimes the most difficult part of my week.  One way I've found to contemplate is to write weekly Monday Mindfulness posts for this blog.  Usually, I write about something I've run across in my reading. 
Flooded kitchen

Not my photo ― it's one I found online to represent my "flooded" window.
At 2:00 a.m. this morning, a huge thunderstorm began clicking hail against my windows.  So I went into the kitchen to look outside without turning on the light and stepped into a huge puddle of water. After trying to stop the flood with a big towel and a small mop, I called security at the desk downstairs and asked if he had access to a big mop and the bucket that wrings out the mop.  I wasn't the only one flooded, so he mopped up somewhere else before me and after me.  I was afraid the puddle would run around the corner onto my living room carpet and maybe into the apartment below mine.  Alex wanted me to wring out my useless towel, while he mopped up the water.  Long story short, the kitchen has dried out now, but my towel hanging in the bathroom is still damp.

Book I was reading when the rain started
No One Ever Asked ~ by Katie Ganshert, 2018, fiction (Missouri)
I'm about a fourth of the way into it, curious about what's going to happen next, but stumbling over the three main characters and their multiple friends and family:
(1)  Camille Gray — wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman, and champion fundraiser — living a picture-perfect world which is falling apart.
(2)  Jen Covington — career nurse who adopted recently and finds it much harder than she anticipated.
(3)  Anaya Jones — brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge's top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she's stepped into.
Other categories I could include
4-14-11
  • Books I've stacked in too many places
  • Books that pair nicely
  • Books I'm studying with others
  • Books I recently finished
  • Book ideas that have me in their thrall
  • Bookies like me
But not today.  Maybe next week.

For the record:  This photo shows the "neat" stacks actually on top of other books on my bookshelves seven years ago.  At the moment, I also have stacks on my desk, on two chairs, on the floor, and on top of a small blue corner shelving unit.

More Sunday Salon posts are on Facebook

Friday, May 25, 2018

Rebecca's Story ~ by Cynthia Benjamin

Rebecca's Story: An Ellis Island Adventure ~ by Cynthia Benjamin, illustrated by James Seward, ND (but possibly 2002), children's chapter book, 7/10
"Rebecca was born in another country.  When she was ten years old, her parents decided to leave their homeland.  The soldiers there had killed many people" (p. 3).
Three-chapter story about a girl named Rebecca who immigrates to America from her homeland where there was war.  It's only 16 pages long, but it includes these "Think and Respond" questions at the end:
1.  What happens to Rebecca after she and her family leave Ellis Island?
2.  How would you describe Rebecca's life during her trip across the Atlantic Ocean?
3.  What does this story tell you about the people who arrived at Ellis Island long ago?
4.  How do you know that Rebecca's family still lives in the United States?
5.  How is this story similar to another story you have read?  How is it different?
6.  If you could meet Rebecca, what would you ask her about her life in the United States?
Then it suggests two other ways to respond:
  • Make a Poster ~ Find out about Ellis Island as it is today.  Make a poster with pictures and information.  Display your poster in class.
  • School-Home Connection ~ Ask older family members about your family history.  You might find out some very interesting things.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Why we left Oprah's book club

"The biggest obstacle we've had to deal with as a group was the reformatting of the Oprah book club website.  We ended up losing years of books discussions.  It was really disappointing."
Chris of Chrisbookarama wrote that for the Book Club Exchange on Booking Mama's blog back in December of 2009, and I found it.  Oprah was originally on AOL, where I was known as BoJacobs in her discussion groups (my profile picture was that animated orange cat GIF above).  We, too, ended up losing years of discussions.

Actually, we had more than one Oprah group.  Some us read and discussed at least two or three books every month, with groups reading different additional books besides Oprah's book club picks.  We lost years of several discussion threads.  One of my groups on Oprah called ourselves "Book Buddies," so that's what I called our new primary online book club.  Here's the very first post on Book Buddies, and you can read in the comments the excitement from people in our various Oprah groups, as well as some who were new to our group.  (I tend to invite everybody I know.)

Another of our Oprah groups discussed books set in countries "around the world," which became my Book Around the World blog.  Our Essencia Island became a private blog for the Book Buddies to party with each book's characters ― or as I said at the top of the blog, it was "a place for Book Buddies to relax and party."  This pleasant sunset scene is at the top of the blog.

Gerry also commented on the shock we all felt when Oprah just threw us away:
"I was truly shocked to see Oprah delete us all.  Oh well!  Time to move on.  Bonnie I love the blog."
Teddy agreed with our assessment:
"I'm glad you set this up. I am fed up with Oprah as well and have moved the Classics Club book discussions to Yahoo groups. I can't beleive Harpo deleted all of our book clubs without prior notice and there will be no way to retreive our old messages. Thats unaceptable in my books!"
We no longer trusted Oprah and moved our book groups to new places.  Book Buddies is my own online book club, where our discussions will live on until Blogger (now Google) decides to throw away what we wrote.  See the sidebar of Book Buddies for a list of books we discussed between 2007 and 2016 before interest died out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Writing prompt ~ happy?

I happened upon this writing prompt while looking for something else, and it appeals to me.  Let's try it.  I'll write in this post about what makes me happy today.  You can either write in the comments or write on your blog and come back to link it in the comments so we can come read it.  What do you think?  Would you be willing to try it with me?

What makes me happy today?
Clawdia 5-26-17

― Here's where I'll post my happiness list.
― Maybe I'll keep adding to it all day, as new things occur to me.
― Having three children, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren makes me happy.
Clawdia makes me happy ... most of the time ... well, except when she doesn't.
― Living at the Crown Center for Senior Living makes me happy.
― Seeing people helping others makes me happy, and a lot of that sort of thing happens here at the Crown Center.
― Flowers around the Crown Center make me happy.  Thank you, Schnucks and residents who helped make the flowers into bouquets for the lobby, the Circle@Crown CafĂ©, the dining room, the offices, the hallways, the link desk.
Fried okra makes me happy; it's my favorite food, but only if it's fried in corn meal (not flour) the way my mother used to make it.
― Blogging makes me happy.  I blog about books because I read, so I should add.......
Kiki 10-9-10
― Reading makes me happy.  I'm the kind of person who would, of course, have cats who read, too.
― Kiki made me happy.  She's the cat who lived with me until she died in 2012.  Read what Kiki wrote about my happiness.

―     Evening update:
―     Nobody at all commented,
―     even though I did share
―     this link on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Two sources ~ on TWOsday

Man's Search for Meaning ~ by Viktor E. Frankl, 1959, psychology

As we were leaving a book fair's Not for Profit Day*** event a couple of weeks ago, I noticed an apparently unread paperback copy of this book and picked it up.  It's old.  I just realized that a 1959 book is now 59 years old.  (Yes, I notice odd things like that.)  However, I've read it and know it's a wonderful book.  Since nobody chose to take it for their non-profit collection, I added it to the books in my cart and brought it home with me.  I was able to find the above quote in the 1984 edition I have here, but it's on page 86 (notice that the one above is on page 75).  After not thinking about this book in decades, here it appears TWICE ... (1) unclaimed after a huge book fair, and (2) posted on Facebook by someone who obviously considers this an important message:
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms ― to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way" (p. 86).
As I searched for this quote in my "new" old book, I stumbled across another sentence I want to quote:
"The truth ― that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire" (p. 57).
I have found many quotes by and about Viktor Frankl.  This one seems important.


*** Not for Profit Day was held on May 7th, at the end of the 2018 Greater St. Louis Book Fair, which "raises funds to promote education and literacy for underserved individuals in the St. Louis metropolitan area."  Nonprofits were invited to send people to select ~ at no charge ~ as many books as desired from those remaining after the Fair closed.  Donna and Randi and I, the designated attendees from the Crown Center, carefully picked out about 200 books to add to our little library.

*** One last thing ... the word "man" was used to mean "people" in general, back in the olden days of the 1950s.  So don't hold the word against Frankl as you ponder what he thought about humankind's search for meaning.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday Mindfulness ~ one hand texting

"What is the sound of one hand texting?"  That's an update on the classic zen koan which asks: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  This fellow is too distracted to hear "what a little bird told him" or the dog who's trying to get his attention or the snake in the grass who has latched onto his leg.  The only good thing about this picture is that he isn't driving.  Maybe he'll walk out in front of a car or step into an hole he doesn't notice, but he isn't driving.

Too many people now text while driving, and it's scary to read about the people they've managed to kill while doing it.  Including themselves.  I've seen people doing it.  Not killing themselves, but texting with one hand while trying to drive with the other hand.  Which hand do you think they are focused on?  Where is their attention?  What, besides your hand-held device, do you really pay attention to?

I guess no one was really "paying attention" to what I had to say about mindfulness four years ago, when I got exactly ZERO comments.  This time, I decided to focus on "one hand texting."  Maybe that got your attention.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ friends, family, and books

FRIENDS
This is "my" usual table when I eat dinner here at the Crown Center.  I wasn't there when they celebrated Cardinals Night.  Left to right are Gail, Susan, Sheila, Mickey, Adeline, and Donna.

FAMILY

My youngest grandchild graduated from high school yesterday.  Congratulations, Cady!  She'll be starting university life in the fall.

BOOKS

The library loot I wrote about last week hasn't been as difficult to get through as I had expected.  I've already completed three of the seven books...
  • Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer ~ by Barbara Ehrenreich, 2018, sociology, 9/10
  • The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale ~ by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Randall Wright, 2011, children's chapter book, 7/10
  • Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor ~ by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colon, 2016, children's picture book, 8/10
...and have gotten well into a fourth library book.


These are quotes I want to remember from Ehrenreich's book, Natural Causes:
"Once I realized I was old enough to die, I decided that I was also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance, or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life. ... As for medical care: I will seek help for an urgent problem, but I am no longer interested in looking for problems that remain undetectable to me. Ideally, the determination of when one is old enough to die should be a personal decision, based on a judgment of the likely benefits, if any, of medical care and — just as important at a certain age — how we choose to spend the time that remains to us" (p. 3).

"Not only do I reject the torment of a medicalized death, but I refuse to accept a medicalized life, and my determination only deepens with age. As the time that remains to me shrinks, each month and day becomes too precious to spend in windowless waiting rooms and under the cold scrutiny of machines. Being old enough to die is an achievement, not a defeat, and the freedom it brings is worth celebrating" (pp. 12-13).

Quoting physician John M. Mandrola: "The default should be: I am well. The way to stay that way is to keep making good choices — not to have my doctor look for problems" (p. 9).
More Sunday Salon posts can be found on Facebook

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Clawdia's Caturday post

Oh, look!  Somebody must have been watching me when I tried to get Bonnie's attention.  It doesn't look much like her, but the artist has drawn me ... purr-fectly!

Here's how I sit on Bonnie's computer, telling her to pay attention to me.  ME.  Not a picture of me, but the real ME sitting on her and staring at her.  See?

Clawdia, 'til next time  >^..^<

Friday, May 18, 2018

Beginning ~ with soft ice cream

We sit together outside the Fosters Freeze at a sea-green, metal picnic table.

All four of us.

We eat soft ice cream, which has been plunged into a vat of liquid chocolate (that then hardens into a crispy shell).
Counting by 7s ~ by Holly Goldberg Sloan, 2013, YA fiction
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s.  It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life – until now.  Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world.  The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy.  This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief.  Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
I am most intrigued by this blurb on the cover, which is too small to read on the full cover at the top.  So here's a close-up of it.  (And here are the words, just in case.)  Also, notice in the small cover above that the red fish is swimming against the tide of blue-green fish.
"If you're lost, you might need to swim against the tide."
I came across a review that makes me really want to read this book.  Maybe you'd like to read it, too.
"In summary, it’s the story of Willow, a twelve-year-old girl who is obsessed with gardening and diagnosing medical conditions. She also takes comfort in counting by 7s. It’s clear from the outset that Willow isn’t an ordinary girl – she’s gifted, a loner and a worrier."


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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wednesday Words ~ toe and tow

Someone wrote, "He needs to tow the line."  Tow and toe sound alike, but they don't mean the same thing.  They are homophones.  Wanting to use these two words for a Wednesday post, I googled "tow toe" images and discovered these "pink toe trucks."  They are actual tow trucks in Seattle.  The owner obviously had a great sense of humor, and I'm sure people remember it.  The truck in front, the one with the left big toe, was on its way to a history museum when this picture was taken.

Toe = five on each foot
Tow = to pull something

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

TWOsday ~ later in life

Over What Hill? (notes from the pasture) ~ by Effie Leland Wilder, 1996, fiction (South Carolina), 9/10
Hattie McNair chronicles the adventures of the residents of the FairAcres retirement community while her own writing career gains momentum.  Except for being 20+ years ago, this sounds a lot like my retirement community.  Well, except their population of men seems to be bigger than ours.  On my floor, we now have eight women and two men.  I still thought it was funny in a sweet sort of way.  We also are much more active than the people in this little novel, with lots of activities and trips, gardening and a cafe for the whole community.  Still, I do recommend this book.
The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50 ~ by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, 2009, sociology
Demographers are recognizing the significance of a distinct developmental phase:  those years following early adulthood and middle age when we are "neither young nor old."  Whether by choice or not, many in their "third chapters" are finding ways to adapt, explore, and channel their energies, skills, and passions in new ways and into new areas.  This process of creative reinvention redefines our views about the casualties and opportunities of aging.  She challenges the still-prevailing and anachronistic images of aging by documenting and revealing how the years between fifty and seventy-five may, in fact, be the most transformative and generative time in our lives, tracing the ways in which wisdom, experience, and new learning inspire individual growth and cultural transformation.  The author captures a new moment in history and offers us insight and hope about our endless capacity for change and growth.
This book's title mentions "adventure."  At 78 years old, I am apparently now in the "fourth chapter" of my life.  When I was still (barely) in that "third chapter," I moved from Chattanooga to St. Louis.  It's the first time I've ever lived west of the Mississippi, and I'm almost 500 miles from my birthplace and my whole family and where I lived most of my life (with a few years in Atlanta, Knoxville, and Morristown, Tennessee).  Yet all during the four years in this town, I've been telling people it's my great adventure.  Yes, there's that word.  At 74, it felt like I needed to go ahead and do it, since I wasn't getting any younger.  And I'm loving it here at the Crown Center for Senior Living!  Was it a risk?  Yes, I guess so, but it just feels right to be here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ library loot

Library Loot

Why do the books I put on reserve at the library one by one over many weeks all show up at the same time?  Natural Causes cannot be renewed, so I should start with that one.  But The Cheshire Cheese Cat sounds like fun and is (after all) "only" a chapter book.
  • The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale ~ by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Randall Wright, 2011, children's chapter book
  • Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor ~ by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colon, 2016, children's picture book
  • Counting by 7s ~ by Holly Goldberg Sloan, 2013, YA fiction
  • What Changes Everything ~ by Masha Hamilton, 2013, fiction
  • Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer ~ by Barbara Ehrenreich, 2018, sociology
  • No One Ever Asked ~ by Katie Ganshert, 2018, fiction (Missouri)
  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir ~ by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, 2017, memoir
More Sunday Salon posts can be found on Facebook.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Transformation needed

The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy ... and to deal with those, we need a spiritual and cultural transformation.

"I am beginning to realize that lack of a spiritual and cultural commitment in my life has added to this lack of empathy, compassion, and selfishness in the world," says my friend Donna Carey.  "I need to find a regular place to practice my spirituality before I can be fully committed to the cultural transformation that Gus Speth talks about."

Cross-posted on my Greening the Blue Planet blog.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Beginning ~ with squeaky wipers

"Wipers squeaked against the windshield, smearing raindrops across the glass.   The rhythmic sound filled the car as Anaya Jones idled in the driveway."
Yes, I'm curious.  I want to know where she is and why she's idling in the driveway.  So I googled the book (see below), liked what I saw, and immediately put this one on reserve at my library.  I got it yesterday and can now start reading.


No One Ever Asked ~ by Katie Ganshert, 2018, fiction (Missouri)
Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district — and in their lives.  When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge:
  • Camille Gray — the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman, and champion fundraiser — faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams.
  • Jen Covington — the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption, but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated.
  • Anaya Jones — the first woman in her family to graduate from college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge's top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she's stepped into.
Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all.  This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question:  What does it mean to be human?  Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as "this" or "that," when such complexity exists in each person?


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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wednesday Words ~ bring, take

  
Two by Two ~ by Nicholas Sparks, 2016, fiction (North Carolina), 8/10
"I put the other photos in a box if you want to bring them with you.  There are some fantastic ones of you and London."
"That would be great."
I went to the closet and retrieved the box. ... "I'll put this in the trunk," I said.
I've taken this example from page 345, but Nicholas Sparks used "bring" consistently where I would say "take."  If I wanted a book that a child had (for instance), I would say, "Bring me the book."  But Sparks used the word "bring" when he wanted that book to go in the other direction.  If, for example, a character had a book to give the mother, he might say to the child:
"Here, bring this book to your mother across the room."
Is this a regional thing?  How do you use these two words?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ friends, bookshops, and books

Old Friends

My friend Ginny sent me a card for my recent birthday that says, "We're much too young to be this old."  I think Snoopy would like it ... I mean, Joe Cool would like it.  Just for the record, Ginny is older than I am, by a few months, anyway.  We've been good friends since the summer before I started high school in 1955.  Marching band practice started in August, with Ginny on clarinet and me on glockenspiel.  Wow!  That's 63 years!

New Friends

Sheila, Donna (behind), and Bonnie walking the Labyrinth
Yesterday was World Labyrinth Day, and four of us walked the nearby labyrinth together at First Presbyterian Church on Delmar:  Sheila, Donna, Bonnie, and Juleta.  These three are "newer" friends than Ginny, though Donna's been my best friend for two decades.

Donna and Juleta continued on after Sheila elected to walk over the inlaid bricks delineating the "paths" of the labyrinth to sit down for awhile.  We spent an hour at the labyrinth, walking and talking while my friends got to know each other.  It was a very good day.

On my Kindle ~ favorite quote

The Bookshop Book ~ by Jen Campbell, 2014, travel, 8/10
"One day at the bookshop I got a call from a lady who had spied a collection of nature tales on our online inventory.  She used to have the book when she was younger, she said, but her mother had sold her copy at a jumble sale forty years ago without her permission, and recently she'd been hoping to track down a copy to read to her grandchildren.  She'd never forgotten the beautiful colour plates ... She was thrilled to find we had a copy.  I packaged the book up and posted it to her.  The next day she called me back.  I quickly realised she was in tears, and I worried that the book might have got damaged in the mail. ... But it turned out that the book I had posted to her was her book:  the actual copy, with the inscription in the front from her great aunt, and one of the corners bumped from where she'd dropped it down the stairs when she was seven.  Forty years ago, some 200 miles away, her mother had sold the book, and somehow we'd come across it and somehow she'd come across us, and there she was, reunited with her very own book.  It's moments like this that make bookselling one of the best jobs in the world" (loc. 1412).
Library Loot

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything ~ by Barbara Ehrenreich, 2014, memoir, 8/10
This book will change the way you see the world.  Barbara Ehrenreich, one of the most important thinkers of our time, was educated as a scientist.  She's an author, journalist, activist, and advocate for social justice.   From childhood, she set out to find "the Truth" about the universe and everything else:  What's really going on?  Why are we here?   In middle age, she rediscovered the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence, which records an event so strange, so cataclysmic, that she had never, in all the intervening years, written or spoken about it to anyone.   It was the kind of event that people call a "mystical experience" — and, to a steadfast atheist and rationalist, nothing less than shattering.
I've been skimming back through this book that I first read in December of 2014.

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