Friday, September 27, 2019

Beginning ~ with a memory

"The dream is always simple. The memory never is.  It's an echo from 1903 when she was almost sixteen."
No, that didn't grab me, but a line half-way down the first page does:
"At twenty-five, Anna Klobuchar Clements would be known around the world as America's Joan of Arc.  Ten thousand miners would march behind her in a wildcat strike against the richest, most powerful copper company on earth."
The Women of the Copper Country ~ by Mary Doria Russell, 2019, fiction (Michigan)
In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair.  She's spent her whole life in the coal-mining town of Calumet, Michigan where men risk their lives for meager salaries — and had barely enough to put food on the table and clothes on their backs.  The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren't coming home.  When Annie decides to stand up for herself, and the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle.


Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click this link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

More banned books

How many of these have you read?

In case you can't read the tiny titles of some of the most challenged books out there, here they are:
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Kite Runner
  • Forever
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • Of Mice and Men
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The House on Mango Street
  • The Giver
  • The Bluest Eye
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • And Tango Makes Three
  • The Color Purple
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • A Wrinkle in Time
How about these?
Do you recognize these books by the illustrations?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Banned Books Week

Ooooh, I almost missed Banned Books Week.  Do you have a favorite banned book?  Harper Collins posted this:
"For #BannedBooksWeek, we recommend reading WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS by #ShelSilverstein (and breaking your plates instead of washing them, but please don't eat babies)."
I've read Where the Sidewalk Ends and even wrote about it in 2011 on this blog.  Here are a dozen books librarians picked this year as the best banned books.  How many of these have you read?  I can claim more than half of them.
  • The Bluest Eye ~ by Toni Morrison
  • Slaughterhouse-Five ~ by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Outsiders ~ by S. E. Hinton
  • Heather Has Two Mommies ~ by Leslea Newman
  • Animal Farm ~ by George Orwell
  • His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass ~ by Philip Pullman
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray ~ by Oscar Wilde
  • The Kite Runner ~ by Khaled Hosseini
  • Looking for Alaska ~ by John Green
  • Two Boys Kissing ~ by David Levithan
  • 1984 ~ by George Orwell
  • The Awakening ~ by Kate Chopin

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Clawdia's friend Tiny

Clawdia has missed Tiny, since she moved to Idaho, but she seemed more interested in exploring Sheila's apartment that day in August when Tiny came for a visit.  She'd never been there before and was curious.

Sheila and Toni got in the picture with Clawdia and Tiny.

Tiny is still in town visiting her daughter Lauree, so Clawdia got to visit with her friend again last week in the lobby.  She wasn't happy wearing that leash and collar, though.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Beginning ~ with a name

"From the day they tell you the home pregnancy test was positive until the day they tell you the baby is here, you will be allowed to consider the single most complex naming problem you are permitted to solve:  what will the new baby call you?"
Funny, You Don't Look Like a Grandmother ~ by Lois Wyse, 1989, anecdotes
This little book is a collection of wit and wisdom for today's Nana, Grandma, Goo-Goo, or Gran.  How can you recognize today's grandmother?  Easy, says Wyse.  The grandmother is the one who goes out more and complains less than her daughter.  In the spirit of Erma Bombeck and Bill Cosby, Lois Wyse tells loving and amusing stories that illustrate the joys of contemporary grandmothering.  According to the author, "A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do."



Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click this link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday thoughts

Cara, Bonnie, and Barbara
Today we welcomed Cara to the Crown Center staff.  She's our new controller.  I thought someone had misspelled the word "comptroller," but Donna looked it up and found this link about the two words.

At the right, Mary is at the end of the table with Cara, across from me.  In the photo below, Cara was at a nearby table greeting Miriam and other residents.  In the background, you can see Donna and Walter at the other end of my table.  Iva (on the left) was talking to Mary.  Lots of us were in the Café this morning to welcome Cara.
One more thing ... Donna brought her new tee-shirt to show friends.  I encouraged Randi to get in the photo (below), so she is feigning surprise at the shirt.  A sloth hangs upside down with these words:
Click the photos to enlarge them
"I finally found my spirit animal ... SLOTH ... does absolutely nothing and just sleeps."
For more about Donna and sloths, read my blog post from last Friday.  Now she has a sloth keychain, a sloth book, and a sloth shirt.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Facebook meme

Every answer must start with the first letter of your middle name.  My middle name is Lillian.
ANIMAL ~ Llama
GIRL’S NAME ~ Lucy
BOY’S NAME ~ Lewis
WORD TO DESCRIBE SOMEONE ~ Lithe
COLOR ~ Lime green
FOOD ~ Lentil soup
SOMETHING YOU WEAR ~ Leggings
DRINK ~ Lemonade
PLACE ~ London
RESTAURANT ~ Lion's Choice
IN YOUR HOME ~ Lamp
REASON TO BE LATE ~ Lost
We are to tell our friends to "Copy and paste to delete my answers and add your own."  I left out the part where my friend had said we couldn't google any answers because, after all, some people may have weird middle names.  She also had posted (presumably because she copied it) that "this is harder than you think."  No, it wasn't.  Maybe it's just that there are lots of "L" words I could think of off the top of my head.

For "animal," I chose "llama," but had first thought of "lion."  Why did I change it?  Because I wanted to illustrate this post.  I had "Lion's Choice" (a chain based in St. Louis) for a restaurant name, so I went with llama for the animal in order to use that cute llama photo.

For a girl's name, I could have used my own or Linda or Louise or Lynn or Lily.  I picked Lucy for the cartoon character.  For a boy's name, I could have used Leon or Lincoln or Lester or Lonny.  To describe someone, I could have said lonely or likeable or lively or lanky.  I originally had "lemon meringue pie" for food, but I had "lemonade" for the drink.  To avoid having "lemon" twice, I came up with "lentil soup" instead.  I could go on (and on and on) with possible choices, but the real reason it's easy for me to come up with so many words is that I'm a word person.  I love words.

If you want to play along, share your answers in the comments.

Flaming feminist


Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked by the dean of Georgetown University Law Center, "How did you decide that you wanted to litigate cases that would focus on increasing equality for women?"

RBG replied, “You mean, how did I decide to become a flaming feminist litigator?”

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

TWOsday ~ two books for Kindle

Wish Me Home ~ by Kay Bratt, 2017, fiction (Georgia, Florida)
A hungry, stray dog is the last thing Cara Butter needs.  Stranded in Georgia with only her backpack and a few dwindling dollars, she already has too much baggage.  Like her twin sister, Hana, who has broken Cara’s heart one too many times.  After a lifetime of family troubles, and bouncing from one foster home to another, Cara decides to leave it all behind and strike out alone — on foot.  Cara sets off to Florida to see the home of her literary hero, Ernest Hemingway, accompanied only by Hemi, the stray dog who proves to be the perfect travel companion.  The harrowing trip takes unexpected turns as strangers become friends who make her question everything, and Cara finds that as the journey unfolds, so does her life — in ways she could never imagine.
Have You Seen Luis Velez? ~ by Catherine Ryan Hyde, 2019, fiction
Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong.  Not with his mother’s new family.  Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife.  Not at school, where he’s an outcast.  After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections:  to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who introduced herself with a curious question:  "Have you seen Luis Velez?"

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared.  She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.  Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear.  Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to.
My reading lately has been too heavy on the nonfiction side, so this was just what I needed when I saw these were only $1.99 each for my Kindle.  I grabbed them, have already gotten into the first book, and really like Cara and Hemi, the dog.  I should have been reading White Fragility for last night's discussion, but I stuck with the novel Sunday night.  Yes, I did get manage to finish the chapters to discuss White Fragility on time.

By the way, did you notice there's a rescue dog in one novel and a rescue cat in the other?  I did.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Taking another look at racism

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism ~ by Robin DiAngelo, 2018, social studies
Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine).  Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence.  These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.  In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.
I'm discussinging this, chapter by chapter, over a 6-week period with a group of about 30 people from the community.  Tonight, we'll take a look at chapters 2 and 3.
Chapter 2 ~ Racism and White Supremacy
Chapter 3 ~ Racism After the Civil Rights Movement

Friday, September 13, 2019

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt ~ go for it

Gratitude #1 ~ I found a book.  No, really.  Nancy wanted to stop at the bookstore when we were out together this afternoon, and I found a book.   You know books make me happy.  I enjoyed looking around a bookstore, so I accomplished #1 on this list to find something that makes me happy.

Gratitude #2 ~ I found a book.  Same book as above, but it's something that will make my BFF smile (if not laugh out loud) when I give it to her.  I'll work on the other items on the list later, but for now I want to read this short book quickly so I can give it away.  Here's the book.  I'll explain later why it will make her laugh.

A Sloth's Guide to Taking it Easy: Be More Sloth with These Fail-Safe Tips for Serious Chilling ~ by Sarah Jackson, 2018, advice/humor, 9/10
Is modern living stressing you out and getting on top of you?  Try slowing things down a little by being more sloth.  Living in the 21st century is exciting, but with everything moving so quickly it can feel a touch overwhelming.  It’s time that everybody relaxed and took a moment to enjoy the simple pleasures, but we also appreciate it’s easier said than done.  That’s why we’ve enlisted the help of an expert to guide you along the path to peace.  Meet your mentor:  Brian the sloth.
Tip 1:  Eat healthily
Tip 2:  Use positivity mantras
Tip 3:  Spend time with like-minded people
Tip 4:  Stretch regularly
Tip 5:  Remove negativity and things that weigh you down
This fifth tip is metaphorical, which will resonate with my BFF.
Tip 6:  Make time to enjoy your favorite things
Tip 7:  Try physical contact
Tip 8:  Use the power of plants
Tip 9:  Don't compare yourself to others
Tip 10:  Take a deep breath
Tip 11:  Get back to basics
Tip 12:  Embrace modern technology
Tip 13:  Try online dating
Tip 14:  Lighten up and have a laugh
Tip 15:  Relax with a good book
Oh, oh, oh!  My kind of relaxing!
Tip 16:  Take a vacation
Tip 17:  Look at things from a new perspective
Tip 18:  Break things down
Tip 19:  Ignorance is bliss
Tip 20:  My best advice yet
And that would be?  "Just chill out, yeah?" (p. 57).
In Part 2, the author shares ancient wisdom from philosophers, like D Llama.  Fun reading!  I rate the book 9/10 because it's excellent.

Now for the explanation I promised about why this book will make Donna (my BFF) laugh.  For some strange reason, she and her friends who play Bananagram every weekend have chosen a sloth as their mascot (or spirit animal, or whatever).

I think the reason for their choice is that they've learned that ai (not capitalized as in AI, or artificial intelligence) is a two-letter word for a three-toed sloth, pictured at right.  Donna has even gotten herself a sloth keychain.  I've decided my own spirit animal is a bookworm.  Can you figure out why?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Clawdia's excursion

Clawdia screamed all the way down the elevator that she was being kidnapped, but she relaxed into Tiny's lap at the jigsaw table in the lobby and soaked up the love as Tiny crooned to her.  Tiny, who used to live one door away on our floor, is one of Clawdia's favorite friends.

After visiting with Tiny and Dodi and Sheila and Gail and Barbara in the lobby, we went out back near the gazebo, where Clawdia enjoyed nibbling the grass (photo at right), scratching her back on the rough concrete of the sidewalk, and exploring various nooks and crannies.
Then she marched herself across the grass toward Donna's building, with a few detours to look at this and that or sit for a moment to ponder her surroundings.  When the grass and winding walkways ended, Clawdia jumped up onto Donna's windowsill and surveyed the world around her (photographic evidence at the top).

We stayed outside until mosquitoes swarmed around Clawdia and she had her mouth open panting in the heat.  (Temperatures reached the 90s in St. Louis today.)  When we got home, she went straight to her food and water while I scrubbed my mosquito bites with alcohol.  After all that, Clawdia decided a cat nap was in order, so she curled up and slept near my feet as I stretched out on top of the bed to read.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen ~ by Liliuokalani

Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen ~ by Liliuokalani, 1898 (Kindle edition published in 2016), memoir
In 1893, Liliuokalani, the Queen of Hawaii, was deposed and five years later her nation became an incorporated territory of the United States.  Published shortly after these momentous events, this book is an incredibly personal history of the islands that she was born to rule.  Liliuokalani covers from her birth in 1838 through the reigns of her forebears to her own turbulent time as Queen of the Hawaiian Islands.

Written to explain to the world the injustice of her situation and to reclaim the sovereignty which she had lost, the Chicago Daily Tribune claimed that “no scholar or lawyer could have state[d] it more effectively.”  But despite her persuasive prose, Hawaii never again regained its independence or its monarchy.  This is a fascinating history of one of the United States of America’s smallest but most unique states as it was going through significant change at the turn of the twentieth century.

Queen Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the kingdom of Hawaii.  She ascended the throne in January of 1891, upon the death of her brother, King David Kalakaua.  For years after her overthrow, the Queen sought redress in the Congress and courts of the United States, but her efforts failed.  This autobiographical history is the only work by a Hawaiian monarch and provides insight into her fight to regain her throne and life on Hawaii during the late-nineteenth century.
This is only 99-cents for Kindle, so I just now bought it.

Solutions to new problems

Living in a senior retirement center has made me more aware of some limitations we face as we age.  Not having a car is one big change for many, if not most, of the people who live here.  What do we do when we need to shop for groceries?  Decisions to be made include:
  • Am I mobile enough to walk a block to buy groceries?  We do have a grocery store nearby.
  • How will I carry them home?  Do I need to have my own cart?
  • What about rainy days?  Or snowy days?  Or very, very hot days?
  • If I have a cart, how do I take it on the Crown Center bus?
  • When does our bus make grocery store runs, anyway?  Which stores and how often?
  • What about produce that only lasts a very few days, like bananas?  Do we just do without or eat canned fruit?
I already have a cart (above, which I used last year to deliver books).  I have noticed others with carts like mine, but their front wheels don't swivel.  That means they have to lift the front to make turns, unlike with mine.  I've seen several residents with smaller carts they pull behind them that have covered bags, similar to these.  Unfortunately, they're tiny and don't hold much.

What about getting to medical appointments, which we elderly have more often than young people?  Take a cab?  A friend reported taking a cab cost her $14.80 plus tip to get there last week and $12.20 plus tip to get back home to the Crown Center.  Residents who are still driving step up when they can to take people shopping or to appointments, but we all have limitations on how much we can do for other people.

And then there are the other times we use our cars, like going out for lunch.  Not having a car means either walking or using a taxi or going with someone who still has a car.  My friends Barbara and Donna and I have been looking at the problem of eating out together because, for one thing, Barbara is now using an electric scooter, which won't fit into a car, even if we elders could lift the heavy thing!  Besides, she has to take along her oxygen, which is heavy in itself.  So we took a look at what's within walking distance (or scooter driving distance) of the Crown Center.
  • Jilly's is close, but across busy Delmar.  Click to see their new menu.
  • Mod Pizza is a couple of blocks away and has good salads.
  • Pei Wei has closed, so no Asian food close to us.  But we just heard that Shake Shack is going in that spot.
  • Pasta House is probably a quarter of a mile away, which is within walking distance for those who are mobile enough, with or without a scooter.
  • Circle@Crown Cafe, of course, is right downstairs.  We eat there on a regular basis.
I imagine there are many other limitations and problems that come up by simply not having a car, but I'll leave that for your imagination.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Celebrate books and reading

I'm always surprised to discover the many "National Day" things we have on our calendars.  Today, for example, is National Read a Book Day.  I know about this one because we have an event scheduled here at the Crown Center to celebrate it.  Yes, we'll meet in the library, where the books are, but how does one celebrate reading?
"Chat about your favorite author or discover new ones," they say.
Should I take the Anna Quindlen memoir I'm reading?  Should I pull a book off my shelves that's a favorite?  Should I take the book I got from the library yesterday (that I haven't even started reading)?  Is this even a show-and-tell event?  I have no idea, but I plan to go after lunch and find out.  Since we will meet in the library, which is tiny, obviously whoever planned it doesn't expect a big crowd.  We shall see.

Update:  See the "Read A Book" banner behind Drenda, Marie, and Mary at the meeting.  The nine of us who came had a great time discussing books, sharing our favorites, and finding out about each other.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Self-Care September

Click on calendar to enlarge it
I found this month's calendar on the Action for Happiness web site. Here's what they suggest we do during the first week of September.  Since I'm three days late posting this, I'll add three more days for us.

September 1
~ Remember that self-care is not selfish.  It's essential.
September 2
~ Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.
September 3
~ Free up time in your diary by cancelling any unnecessary plans.
September 4
~ Forgive yourself when things go wrong.  We all make mistakes.
September 5
~ Notice what you are feeling today, without any judgment.
September 6
~ Remember it's okay not to be okay.  We all have difficult days.
September 7
~ Plan a fun or relaxing activity this weekend and make time for it.
September 8
~ Remind yourself that you are loved and worthy of love.
September 9
~ Avoid saying "I ought to" or "I should" to yourself.
September 10
~ Give yourself permission to say "No" to requests from others.

"Self-care is not selfish.  You   
can't pour from an empty cup."

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunday Salon ~ my current book list

Book I just completed

Alternate Side ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2018, fiction (New York), 8/10
"Don't be cynical," Charlie said.
"I'm a New Yorker," said Nora.  "Cynicism is my religion" (p. 209).

"So how are you, really?" Rachel said.  "And that's not a rhetorical question."
"I take a lot of pleasure in having children who know what a rhetorical question is," Nora said, carrying coffee mugs to the dining table as her daughter followed (p. 267).

"People go through life thinking they're making decisions, when they're really just making plans, which is not the same thing at all" (p. 280).
Book I'm reading now

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2012, memoir
Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours.  Considering and celebrating everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, and loss, to all the stuff in our closets, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves.  As she did in her beloved New York Times columns and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life (2000), Quindlen uses her own past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages.
Book I plan to read next

The President Is Missing ~ by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, 2018, fiction
This novel confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America.  Uncertainty and fear grip the nation.  There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet.  Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view.  Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation.  Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years.
At 513 pages, this one is a chunkster!  Melvin donated it to our little Crown Center library, after he finished reading it, but our shelves are full.  So I brought it home to read before shelving it.

This photo is from three years ago, when we were purging old books from the shelves to make more room.  Those shelves are now crammed full.  Working that day were Judy, Donna, and Nancy (left to right) and a very young volunteer sitting on the floor.