Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Library Loot ~ April 30 to May 6

The Elephant Scientist ~ by Caitlin O'Connell, 2011, juvenile (Namibia)
In the sprawling African scrub desert of Etosha National Park in Namibia, they call her "the mother of all elephants."  Holding binoculars closely to her eyes, American scientist Caitlin O'Connell could not believe what she was seeing from these African elephants.  As the mighty matriarch scanned the horizon, the other elephants followed suit, stopped midstride, and stood as still as statues. This observation would guide the scientist to a groundbreaking discovery about elephant communication, that elephants actually listen with their limbs.  The Elephant Scientist was named a 2012 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book.
Elena's Serenade ~ by Campbell Geeslin, illustrated by Ana Juan, 2004, juvenile/women's studies (Mexico), 9/10
Who ever heard of a girl glassblower?  In Mexico, where the sun is called el sol and the moon is called la luna, a little girl called Elena wants to blow into a long pipe ... and make bottles appear, like magic.  But girls can't be glassblowers.  Or can they?  Join Elena on her fantastic journey to Monterrey — home of the great glassblowers! — in an enchanting story filled with magical realism.  As she journeys, she gains confidence along the way.
The Listening Walk ~ by Paul Showers, 1961, junvenile
Put on your socks and shoes — and don't forget your ears!  We're going on a listening walk.  Shhhhh.  Do not talk.  Do not hurry.  Get ready to fill your ears with a world of wonderful and surprising sounds.
 This illustration gives you an idea of the kinds of things the child heard.

One mother found a copy of this book at a thrift store and wrote about taking her toddler on a listening walk.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Enthusiastic ~ the word that describes me

"Enthusiasm is contagious" used to be my motto. Interesting that my "One Word" is ENTHUSIASTIC.
"You have a zest for life, and you're always finding something new to be excited about. You have an amazing imagination, and unlike most people you tend to put your ideas into action. You're always looking to improve yourself. You never stop learning or growing. You are true to yourself and never a phony. You are always completely honest with people."
What One Word Describes You?
5 simple questions to find out What One Word Describes You.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mindfulness training

This is part of what it means to be mindful on this fine Monday.  If I look for the good, always and everywhere, that has to be better than seeing only the bad.  Very good, Kermit!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ big families

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate ~ by Jacqueline Kelly, 2009, YA fiction (Texas), 9/10
"My mother had got one girl out of seven tries at it.  I guess I wasn't exactly what she'd had in mind, a dainty daughter to help her bail against the rising tide of the rough-and-tumble boyish energy that always threatened to engulf the house.  It hadn't occured to me that she'd been hoping for an ally and then didn't get one" (p. 192).
While I was reading this book, my brother Jim emailed family photos, including the one above of my mother and her family.  Mother is the girl on the front row.  She can't be over twelve years old, because that's how old she was when her father was killed in an auto accident.  Like the girl in the book, my mother had six brothers, but there was another sister.  I was named for Bonnie, who was thirteen years older than Mildred, my mother.  Let's see if I can name everyone in her birth family, starting with my grandfather and the back row and going by age:  Monroe (the father), Chandler, Paul, Bonnie, Howard, Mark (on the end and moving left), Wylee, Mildred, Allen, and Inez (the mother).  Someone guessed maybe 1928, but I think my mother looks closer to twelve than ten, so I'll guess 1930, before my grandfather died.

Reading the book made me more aware of how my mother may have experienced having six brothers, though she did have an older sister and some of the older boys had already left home by the time she was born.  Chandler, for instance, had children almost as old as their Aunt Mildred.  Not only did Calpurnia Virginia Tate (known to family as Callie Vee) have six brothers like my mother, her birthday was also in October (p. 235).  Read more of my thoughts about the book by clicking on the blue link.  I rate the book 9 of 10, an excellent book.

Three-year-old Jaxon is such a great brother.  While his mother is, as she says, "running around getting everything ready to go," Jaxon pushes Shelby around with him and talks to her.  If she starts fussing, he says, "Hold on, Shelby, I'm almost done."

Jaxon and Shelby are the great-great-great-grandchildren of Inez and Monroe in that sepia photo at the top.  From them to Mildred to Bonnie to David to Kendall to Jaxon and Shelby is six generations of my family.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Caturday ~ why we read

That's why we read ... and read ... and read ... and read ... and sleep.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Beginning ~ with Ed dead, not Fred

My best friend's sister, Jane — who let me stay at her house when I visited St. Louis last week — introduced me to a series of cozy mysteries she loves enough to have collected the whole set of eight after the author died.  The series is the Southern Sisters Mysteries by Anne George.  The first one in the series is my offering today for Book Beginnings on Fridays.  The first page in the book, which is actually a teaser rather than the story's beginning, is what made Jane buy that first book — and the one that convinced me that I wanted to read it.  So I want to start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.  (Oops!  Sounds rather like a song we all know.)

Murder on  a Girls' Night Out (Southern Sisters Series #1)  ~ by Anne George, 1996, mystery
Fred handed me the phone.  "It's your sister.  She says I'm dead," he  said sleeply.

"What?"  I grabbed the phone.  "Mary Alice?"

"Oh, Mouse, Fred's dead!"

"No, he's not.  He's right here.  You're having a bad dream."

"Not Fred.  Ed.  It's Ed who's dead.  Oh, Mouse!  I meant to say Ed.  Did I scare you?  I know I scared you.  It's Ed.  He's dead.

I put my hand over the phone.  "It's Ed who's dead, Fred.  Not you."

"Thank God," he said.
Isn't that delightfully ridiculous and funny?  I think the author must have chosen Fred as the name of the husband just so she could write "It's Ed who's dead, Fred.  Not you."  Here are the actual opening lines of chapter one.
Mary Alice flung her purse on my kitchen table, where it landed with a crash, pulled a stool over to the counter and perched on it.  "Perched" may not be the right word, since Mary Alice weighs two hundred and fifty pounds.  The stool groaned and splayed, but it held.  I began to breath again.
And finally here's the description from the back cover.
Buying the Skoot 'n' Boot makes perfect sense to oversized, overimpulsive multiple widow Mary Alice.  Her serious, respectable ex-schoolteacher sister Patricia Anne thinks Mary Alice is out of her cotton-pickin' mind, but Mary Alice insists that Country Western is hot and the Skoot 'n' Boot is where she and her current boyfriend hang out anyway.  But not even sensible Patricia Anne could imagine that the day after Mary Alice shows her around the Skoot 'n' Boot, a body would be found strangled, stabbed, and dangling in the pub's wishing well.  The sisters were the last to see the unfortunate victim alive, so the sheriff has more than a few questions for them.  And they had better get some answers, because a killer with some unfinished business is sending them some mighty threatening messages.

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday ~ me and my bassoon

Did you know I used to play the bassoon?  In high school and college, I did, and here's a picture to prove it, though I wish someone had taken it out of their photo album before taking a picture of it.  I'm wearing the uniform I wore for high school orchestra, concert band, and marching band — when marching, I played a glockenspiel rather than the bassoon and wore a shako with a white plume.  (A shako is a tall hat, for you non-band folks.)  When I played in the Chattanooga Youth Symphony we wore something else entirely.

Here's my favorite bassoon music, though I never played it.  Mozart's Bassoon Concerto was played in live concert in Vicenza, Italy, with Aligi Voltan on bassoon and G.B.Rigon conducting the Orchestra del Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza in June 2004.  If the video quits responding, listen to it on YouTube (16:49).

BTT (#42) ~ favorite

Today's prompt from Booking Through Thursday asks:
"Do you have a favorite book?  What do you say when people ask you?   (This question always flummoxes me because how can you pick just one, so I’m eager to hear what you folks have to say.)  And, has your favorite book changed over the years?"
Once upon a time, I loved Uncle Wiggily stories by Howard R. Garis. Uncle Wiggily Longears was an elderly rabbit who first appeared in a story in 1910, thirty years before I was born.  Wikipedia says, "Garis penned an Uncle Wiggily story every day (except Sundays) for more than 30 years."  I think I had more than one book of his stories when I was little.

I remember the story of Jackie and Peety Bow Wow who wanted to sled, but there was no snow.  I remember when Uncle Wiggily played tag with Lulu Wibblewobble, the duck girl she flew over the bush with sticky, red berries, but he ran into it.  At dinner time, Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy saw the red spots and called Dr. Possum to come because Uncle Wiggily was breaking out with measles.  I could identify, since I had measles, mumps, and chickenpox in my first three years of school.  Children wouldn't understand some of these stories now, and you adults can't imagine a doctor coming to a person's home, right?

I don't have my original Uncle Wiggily books, but a few years ago I found one at a used book store called Uncle Wiggily and His Friends, copyright MCMLV, MCMXXXIX.  Did you know publishers regularly "hid" the copyright dates by using Latin numerals?  MCMLV would be 1955, and MCMXXIX would be 1939.  (Yes, I studied Latin, back in the Dark Ages.)

But that was my favorite about 70 years ago.  I can't begin to tell you what my favorites have been over seven decades, though it would be fun to try to remember someday when I'm not busy reading a new book.  Here are my current favorites, one nonfiction and one fiction.

The Heart of Christianity ~ by Marcus J. Borg, 2003, religion
Time and Again ~ by Jack Finney, 1970, science fiction (time travel)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Library Loot ~ April 23-29

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate ~ by Jacqueline Kelly, 2009, YA fiction (Texas)
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.  With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger.  As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.  This historical young adult novel was the recipient of a 2010 Newbery Honor Award and the winner of the 2010 Bank Street-Josette Frank Award.
Having already read about a third of this book, I've found some intriguing passages to share.  This first one should appeal to all readers.  Calpurnia, known to her family as Callie, is an avid reader who tries to borrow Darwin's Origin of Species from her library, a book that is NOT approved by her librarian.  "I wouldn't keep such a thing in my library," she tells Callie (p. 14).  When she gets home, Callie tells herself:
"One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them.  I would live my life in a tower of books.  I would read all day long and eat peaches.  And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home" (p.16).
She's my kind of protagonist, so I kept reading.  Another quote I want to share is about her schooling.  Her grandfather, the avid naturalist mentioned above, has said he doesn't understand the modern educational system at all (p. 103):
"Neither do I.  We have to learn sewing and knitting and smocking.  In Deportment, they make us walk around the room with a book on our heads."

Granddaddy said, "I find that actually reading the book is a much more effective way of absorbing it."  I laughed.  I'd have to tell Lula that one.
That reminded me of a cartoon I ran across, which I've added for your edification and enjoyment.  Nobody, of course, would have dressed this way in 1899.

One day, after learning about the huge 45-pound catfish living at the bottom of her river and seeing tiny squirmy things in the water drop she put under the microscope, Callie no longer wanted to go swimming there.
"It was too bad, but sometimes a little knowledge could ruin your whole day, or at least take off some of the shine" (p. 111).

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day ~ 2014

My youngest grandchild was born on Earth Day in 2000, so she is 14 years old today.  I want the earth to be a healthy, safe place for her and her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  We need to take care of the world we live in there's no alternative for us.  "Your work," said the Buddha, "is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it."

Have we tampered with it and treated it as an object?  Yes, but is it too late to make it right?  I certainly hope not.  Buddha and Lao Tzu in his Tao Te Ching were concerned about our world.  So were Native Americans.

I don't have anything special planned to celebrate Earth Day this year.  Maybe I'll hug a tree.  How will you spend Earth Day this year?  How can we help save our earth?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Habits of happiness worth cultivating

Pay attention
Studies show that mindful people have stronger immune systems and are less likely to be hostile or anxious.
Keep friends close
Social connections are key to happiness.  Research indicates it's quality more than quantity.  Make time for those closest to you.
Give thanks
Research reveals the enormous power of simply counting our blessings.  Regular expressions of gratitude promote optimism, better health, and greater satisfaction with life.
Get moving
Regular exercise increasees self-esteem, reduces anxiety and stress, andd may well be the most effective instant happiness booster of all.
Drop grudges
When we forgive those who have wronged us, we feel better about ourselves, experience more positive emotions, and feel closer to others.
Practice Kindness
Being kind to others makes us feel good.  Altruistic acts light up the same pleasure centers in the brain as food and sex.
NOTE ~  For a totally different perspective, read this NYT opinion piece by op-ed columnist David Brooks:  What Suffering Does.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ birthday books

And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus ~ by Selina O'Grady, 2012
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the world was full of gods.  Thousands of them jostled, competed and merged with one another.  In Syria ecstatic devotees castrated themselves in the streets to become priests of Atargatis.  In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine, healed the sick, drove out devils, and claimed to be the Messiah.  Every day thousands of people were leaving their family and tribes behind them and flocking into brand new multi-ethnic cities.  The ancient world was in ferment as it underwent the first phase of globalisation, and in this ferment rulers and ruled turned to religion as a source of order and stability.  Augustus, the first emperor of Rome (though he never dared officially to call himself so) was maneuvering his way to becoming worshipped as a god — it was one of the most brilliant makeovers ever undertaken by a ruler and his spin doctors.  In North Africa, Amanirenas the warrior queen exploited her god-like status to inspire her armies to face and defeat Rome.  In China the usurper Wang Mang won and lost his throne because of his obsession with Confucianism.  To explore the power that religious belief has had over societies through the ages, Selina O’Grady takes the reader on a dazzling journey across the empires of the ancient world and  introduces us to rulers, merchants,  messiahs, priests, and holy men.  Throughout, she seeks to answer why, amongst the countless religious options available, the empires at the time of Jesus ‘chose’ the religions they did?  Why did China’s rulers hitch their fate to Confucianism, a philosophy more than a religion?  And why was a tiny Jewish cult led by Jesus eventually adopted by Rome’s emperors rather than the cult of Isis which was far more popular and widespread?  The Jesus cult, followed by no more than 100 people at the time of his death, should, by rights, have disappeared  in a few generations.  Instead it became the official religion of the Roman Empire.  Why did Christianity grow so quickly to become the predominant world religion?  What was it about its teachings that so appealed to people?  And Man Created God  looks at why and how religions have had such an immense impact on human history and in doing so uncovers the ineradicable connection between politics and religion — a connection which still defines us in  our own age.
Mediterranean: Food of the Sun ~ by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow, 2014
More than 400 step-by-step recipes from the shores of Italy, Greece, France, Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East, with over 1400 stunning photographs.
My birthday is Saturday, so while I was visiting my best friend Donna in St. Louis, she gave me books a bit early — because she won't see me on the actual date.  Even better, she told me to pick out some recipes I like in the recipe book, and she'll make them for me/us to try.  After I move to St. Louis, of course.  In the meantime, I can "study" recipes, like these chosen at random as I flipped through the 512 pages:
Tomato and Garlic Bread
Avgolemono (this lemon soup is one of my favorites!)
Eggplant Parmigiana
Okra with Coriander and Tomatoes
Roasted Plum Tomatoes and Garlic
Black and Orange Salad (made with oranges and black olives)
Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Wine, and Peas
Chicken and Apricot Phyllo Pie
Greek Easter Bread (appropriate, since today is Easter)
Berry Brulee Tarts
This list is making me hungry!  I had to stop working on this post and go eat an olive.  That was very Mediterranean of me.  :)


Jaxon was "egged" by his preschool.
From the looks of his mouth, I'd say
there's chocolate in them thar' eggs.

Shelby, who is almost four-and-a-half
months old, is all dressed up for Easter.

While reading a book about planets, Raegan said,
"Please don't tell me Earth will crash into Saturn!"

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Caturday ~ home again

By the time this posts itself, I should be home where Sammy waits for me, wondering why she's been abandoned.  I hope she's made friends with Anthony, who has been feeding her while I've been in St. Louis.  Anthony and his mom are my nearest neighbors, and he helped me when I broke my shoulder.  Here's a picture of Sammy I took a couple of years ago.  She'll be 19 years old in May.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Beginning ~ with two earthquakes

Sisterland ~ by Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld, 2013, fiction (Missouri)
December 1811
New Madrid, Louisiana Territory

The first earthquake wasn't the strongest — that would come later, in February 1812 — but it must have been the most astonishing.  It occurred shortly after two in the morning, and I imagine it awakening the people of New Madrid:  the farmers and fur traders, the French Creoles and Indians and American pioneers.
I have to share two beginnings, a couple of pages apart.
Chapter 1
September 2009
St. Louis, Missouri

The shaking started around three in the morning, and it happened that I was already awake because I'd nursed Owen at two and then, instead of going back to sleep, I'd lain there brooding about the fight I'd had at lunch with my sister, Vi.
Obviously, this book revolves around earthquakes.  I'm moving to St. Louis, so maybe I shouldn't be reading about earthquakes in that area.  Besides, I have twin daughteers, so I'm curious about the interaction between these sisters.  My favorite idea about this book, which I have just started reading, is from someone else's review.  The Coast (a New Zealand radio station) says the title of the book comes from a sign that hung for years on the door of the bedroom shared by the identical twin sisters:  "Sisterland: Population 2."  That intrigues me.  My twins will turn 54 on May 3rd, and they are still very close.  These two in the book, not so much apparently.  See what I wrote about the book when I got it from the library.  I wonder what happened to their "sisterland."

By the way, which of these covers do you prefer?  Why?  I'll give my answer in the comments later, maybe tonight.  I'll also share my reason for choosing one over the other.

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If Jesus lived in the 21st century

He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep?  Could you not keep awake one hour?" — Mark 14:37

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Mindfulness ~ what matters?

What's that, again?
In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved,
how gently you lived, and
how gracefully you let go
of things not meant for you.
Who said it?
The Buddha

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ Library Loot

This week's loot from the library includes one I got because it's about twins whose hometown is St. Louis, where I plan to move in a few weeks.  Yesterday, I learned from Joy's Book Blog that St. Louis is celebrating its 250th birthday.
Sisterland ~ by Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld, 2013, fiction (Missouri)

From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else.  Kate and Vi were born with peculiar "senses" — innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets.  Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.  Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis.  Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children.  But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift.  After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified.  Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right.  As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.

The other book was recommended by Nancy, the Bookfool ~ I tried to get the second in the series (of three) by Ben H. Winters, but it's a new book and was not yet on the shelves.  It's on hold for me, and I hope it is available by the time I finish reading this first one.  I don't often read mysteries, but Nancy recommends these books.  Even though this book was acquired "SEP 2012," it has that new book smell and has never been read.

The Last Policeman ~ by Ben H. Winters, 2012, mystery (New Hampshire)

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?  Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view.  There’s no chance left.  No hope.  Just six precious months until impact.  Winters presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States.  The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields.  Churches and synagogues are packed.  People all over the world are walking off the job — but not Hank Palace.  He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week — except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.  As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond "whodunit."  What basis does civilization rest upon?  What is life worth?  What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

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