Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Aww, shucks! Pumpernickles has closed

I just read in the Jewish Light that Pumpernickles on Olive Blvd. has permanently closed.  It was one of my favorite places to eat.  You know, back in those olden days before the pandemic.  They served kosher food.  Pumpernickles' website, which may not be there much longer, calls it "the place to meet, eat, and kibitz."

Word of the Day #1

kib·itz /ˈkibits / verb
speak informally; chat.  This word came into English from Yiddish.  Example:  "Sarah loves to kibitz with her friends."
Word of the Day #2

ko·sher /ˈkōSHər / adjective 
  1. said of food, or premises in which food is sold, cooked, or eaten; satisfying the requirements of Jewish law.  Example:  "She keeps a kosher kitchen."
  2. informal = genuine and legitimate.  Example:  "He consulted lawyers to make sure everything was kosher."

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Today's suggestion for being happy

This is from the Action for Happiness calendar I publish at the beginning of each month.

Two books by Russell Baker on TWOsday

Growing Up ~ by Russell Baker, 1982, memoir, 278 pages

Russell Baker traces his youth from the backwoods mountains of Virginia to a New Jersey commuter town to the Depression era in Baltimore.  We meet the people who influenced his early life:  his strong mother, his little sister Doris, the awesome matriarch Ida Rebecca and her twelve sons.  He writes about schoolyard bullies, great teachers, and the everyday heroes and heroines of the Depression who faced disaster with good cheer as they tried to muddle through.

The Good Times ~ by Russell Baker, 1989, memoir, 351 pages

Picking up where Growing Up left off, Baker recounts his odyssey from writing police reports in Baltimore to penning news stories about the Queen of England and offering his wisdom on the grownup world.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Aging, words, and the food I eat

The Virtues of Aging ~ by Jimmy Carter, 1998, memoir, 160 pages

Former president Jimmy Carter reflects on aging, blending memoir, anecdote, political savvy, and practical advice, to truly illuminate the rich promises of growing older.  In this book he shares the knowledge and pleasures that age have brought him.  "As we've grown older, the results have been surprisingly good," he says of the new experiences that come to us with age.  He delves into the issues of planning for retirement, undertaking new diet and exercise regimens, coping with age prejudice, and (on a more intimate level) he paints a glowing portrait of his happy marriage to Rosalynn.  The book celebrates both the blessings that come to us as we grow older and the blessings older people can bestow upon others.

A day or two ago, I happened to notice this book on one of my bookshelves.  Actually, what I noticed was the word "aging."  I'm 82 and feeling my age these days, so I put this on top of my latest pile of books I'm either reading or about to read.  My post-it note inside the cover says I got this book seven years ago.  Jimmy Carter spoke to one of my classes at Emory University in the mid-1980s.  I still remember the Secret Service guys rushing in and sizing us up, and how much shorter Carter was than I expected.  Anyway, I plan to read this book next.
I ran across the word liminal (p. 168 in Happy Now by Courtney Ellis), and I smiled.  Like proclivity, the word liminality is one of my favorites.  It isn't a word we see often, so there's the definition, if you need it.  I also found this Wikipedia quote for us:  "In anthropology, liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete."  I think of it as being on the threshold of something (see #2 above).

A decade ago, I wrote about salad days, saying:
"I don't usually get excited about food preparation, maybe because it too often seems like a lot of work to make a meal for one.  I do, however, like to experiment with salads.  My process is to toss in whatever I have on hand that sounds good to me at the moment.  It could be leftovers, like this one.  On Thursday, I had a hard-boiled egg from breakfast, a tomato, and some leftover asparagus from a recent meal.  So I cut up those together in a bowl.  After taking this photo, I added Roasted Onion Parmesan Dressing and called it a salad."

Yesterday, I had another salad . . . well, I had tuna salad.  I did my usual thing by combining the foods I had on hand.  What I came up with isn't particularly photogenic, and I'd already eaten it when it occurred to me to write about it.  What was it, you ask?  A tuna salad sandwich with artichoke hearts on it.  Yes, that may seem like an odd combination, but I had tuna salad and bread and artichokes.  Why not?  I tried it, and artichoke hearts taste very good on a tuna salad sandwich.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Art, synchronicity, books, and calendar

In one of my old blogs (where I posted only three times, all dated 2008) I apparently had taken one of those silly "tests" that tells you all about yourself:  "What Famous Work of Art Are You?"  The answer I got was "Under the Wave Off Kanagawa" by Katsushika Hokusai.  They say this masterpiece is the one that "best describes" me.  I don't click on stuff like that anymore, but I do like this piece of art.  What I posted on the blog also says:
  • You are very open.  You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.
Well, I certainly hope so.  I did, after all, spend years teaching communication skills.  Then there's this in the very same post:
  • You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.
Not me at all.  Most people would say I'm a homebody.  I travel via Google, looking at my friend's house in the Netherlands, for instance.  Nope, I'm done with silly "tests."

Word of the Day #1
home·bod·y /ˈhōmˌbädē / noun = Informal (North American) = a person who likes to stay at home.  Example:  "Since she's gotten older, Bonnie is definitely even more of a homebody."
One thing that IS very much me is my interest in synchronicity. (click this link to see what I've written about "synchronicity").  While putting together this post, with the "Wave Off Kanagawa" already up there at the top, I came across this fascinating illustration on a NYTimes page about books.  Look closely, and you can see those waves in the background.  What's that kind of synchronicity mean?  Nothing?  Anything?  That I've picked the right subject for today's post, maybe?  Anyway, it's fun to see it pop up in something totally unrelated while I am actually posting about it.  Now back to the books I've been reading and looking up online.

Word of the Day #2

syn·chro·nic·i·ty /ˌsiNGkrəˈnisədē / noun = the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related, but have no discernible causal connection.  Example:  "It's synchronicity when I run across an illustration with waves from a famous piece of art just as I'm writing about that artwork."


Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit ~ by Courtney Ellis, 2021, psychology, 213 pages:

"The paradox of play is this:  we engage in whimsy not because life is easy, but because life is difficult" (p. 9).

"...the more advanced the species, the more it plays" (p. 11).

"Playfulness is essential to human flourishing" (p. 12).

"Play is anything that brings us joy and connection" (p. 13).

"...sometimes acting how we want to feel can help us get there..." (p. 46).

"Our world is filled with useless activities that can fill us with absolute delight.  And many of them are so very simple.  Take a breath, take a pause, take a taste.  Smell the herbs.  Look into the eyes of the friend.  Snuggle the baby.  Watch the snow fall.  Each of these things serves no grand purpose.  But each one changes us, incrementally transforming overly serious minds into open ones and stubborn hearts into joy-filled ones" (p. 115).

Write for Your Life by Anna Quindlen, 2022, writing, 240 pages:
Quindlen writes about a blind woman with a guide dog and how she manages to get around in their shared NYC neighborhood, when it's hard enough for those of us who can see what's coming at us.  There was a taped-off area with the tape high enough for the dog to easily go under it, and the dog did go under it.  But the woman hit the tape and stopped.  Quindlen explained to the woman about the mistake the dog had made and offered her arm, which the woman took as they went onto the street around the taped area.  For Quindlen, it was "nothing but an interior anecdote, passing eventually, as these things do, into memory.  But written down, it lives.  It's there, it's real.  That's the important thing.  That's why we write things down, to give them life" (pp. 169-172).

"Writing can make memory concrete, and memory is such a hard thing to hold on to, like a Jell-O mold, all wiggly but with solid bits embedded clearly" (p. 184).

Folks may have missed my usual calendar at the first of the month because I posted twice on Friday:
  1. The July calendar from Action for Happiness, scheduled to post itself at 12:01 a.m.  It has a month's worth of suggested daily actions for more happiness in our lives.
  2. The Book Beginnings that I post most Fridays, this week from one of my favorite authors:  Anna Quindlen.  (See quotes from her book above.)
And that means the second post may have caused you to miss what I posted a few hours earlier.  This month, it's Jump Back Up July, if you'd like to see it.  Here's a Nelson Mandela quote from the Action for Happiness people, who provide the calendar:

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time
zones — to share what we have been doing during the week.  
Other Sunday Salon musings are linked at the bottom of Deb's Readerbuzz post.

P.S.  As I looked over this post after setting it to post itself, I noticed how much blue and yellow is in the illustrations.  Seeing the colors reminded me of the Ukrainian flag, so I came back to say that I am still praying for the people of Ukraine.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

It was edible!

I had both of these in my possession at the same time.  I got the larger one (which is not very big) when I went to the grocery store, but the tiny one was in my meal delivery.  When I opened the box, there it was.  Tiny banana.  I ate it in three bites.  After photos, of course, including one showing the tiny thing in the hand of the guy who delivered our meals that day:

Friday, July 1, 2022

Beginning ~ with Anne Frank's diary

Words from the 6th paragraph:
"[W]hen she first began, Anne Frank wasn't writing a book.  She was talking to herself.  And she was talking to herself in a way that any of us can do too.  She was finding solace in writing her life, her thoughts and feelings, day after day.  Words to live by."
Write for Your Life ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2022, writing, 240 pages
The book's theme is that we need to leave a legacy of our life by writing about it.  When we write we not only look, we see; we not only react, but reflect. Writing gives us something to hold onto in a changing world.  Writing connects us to ourselves and to those we cherish.  Drawing on her personal experiences not just as a writer but as a mother and daughter, Quindlen makes the case that recording our daily lives in writing is essential.