Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TWO books from the library

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle ~ by Clair A. Nivola, 2012, children's, 9/10
This children's picture book biography tells the story of Sylvia Earle's growing passion for the wonders of the sea and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world.
The Reluctant Midwife ~ by Patsy Harman, 2015, fiction (West Virginia), 9/10
Nurse Becky Myers is a reluctant midwife.  She's far more comfortable with tending the sick than helping women deliver their babies.  For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy.  But the Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard.  Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children.  And sometimes Becky is called upon to bring new life into the world.  Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky's cheerfulness — as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer, Dr. Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her.  Patience too has changed.  Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.  Becoming a midwife and ushering new life into the world is not Becky's only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.  And she must find a way to bring Isaac's spirit back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.
Recently, I got this email from Patricia Harman:
"My second novel, The Reluctant Midwife (HarperCollins), came out this month.  Set in the Great Depression in WV, it features Becky Myers RN and Dr. Isaac Blum who return to the Hope River Valley, impoverished and homeless.  Something is really wrong with the once brilliant surgeon and Becky is stuck with him.  His older brother, also a physician, has kicked him out.  Dr. Blum won’t speak or even eat without help.  With nowhere to go, they are forced to call on their midwife friend, Patience.  If you read The Midwife of Hope River, you will like this.  It’s a book about healing, the power of community and hope.  Be well, Patricia Harman, CNM, MSN, Morgantown, WV."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Full awareness

"All that you seek is already within you.  In Hinduism it is called the Atman, in Buddhism the pure Buddha-Mind.  Christ said, 'The kingdom of heaven is within you.'  Quakers call it the ‘still small voice within.’ This is the space of full awareness that is in harmony with all the universe, and thus is wisdom itself." — Ram Dass

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Whatcha reading?

This is what I'm reading.

1.  A Man of My Words: Reflections on the English Language ~ by Richard Lederer, 2003, language

2.  No Job for a Lady ~ by Carol McCleary, 2014, fiction (Mexico)

3.  Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole ~ by Dr. Jerri Nielsen, 2001, memoir (Antarctica)

4.  Kind of Kin ~ by Rilla Askew, 2013, fiction (Oklahoma)

5.  Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade ~ by Thomas Norman DeWolf and Sharon Morgan, 2012, race relations

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beginning ~ with a snowmobile ride

Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole ~ by Dr. Jerri Nielsen, 2001, memoir (Antarctica)
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, October 16, 1999.  Today I take my last snowmobile ride in Antarctica — from the ice-crusted dome where I have lived for eleven months, to the edge of an airfield plowed out of the drifting snow.  Normally I could walk the distance in a few minutes, but I am too weak.
So what's this book about?
Jerri Nielsen was a forty-six-year-old doctor working in Ohio when she made the decision to take a year's sabbatical at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on Antarctica, the most remote and perilous place on Earth.  The "Polies," as they are known, live in almost total darkness for six months of the year, in winter temperatures as low as 100 degrees below zero — with no way in or out before the spring.  During the long winter of 1999, Dr. Nielsen, solely responsible for the mental and physical fitness of a team of researchers, construction workers, and support staff, discovered a lump in her breast.  Consulting via email with doctors in the United States, she performed a biopsy on herself, and in July began chemotherapy treatments to ensure her survival until condition permitted her rescue in October.  What ensued was a daring rescue by the Air National Guard, who landed, dropped off a replacement physician, and minutes later took off with Dr. Nielsen.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

BTT (#46) ~ carrier

Deb's question for today's Booking Through Thursday:
Do you carry a book around with you?  Inside the house?  Whenever you go out?  Always, everywhere, it’s practically glued to your fingers?  (And yes, digital books very much DO count as long as you’re spending time reading on your Kindle or iPad and not just loading them with books that you never actually read.)
Yes, I usually have a book with me, something to read if I'm stuck waiting for someone.  Next week, I am scheduled to take a friend for oral surgery, so I know I'll need to have a book with me there.  I don't always take along a book when (for example) I'm meeting someone for lunch, since I also enjoy people watching and spending time pondering life's imponderables.  But when I expect long waits, I always take along something to read.  For that, I'd choose a book with short chapters or maybe a magazine that could be put aside when the person arrives.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TWO more books ~ old and older

A Man of My Words: Reflections on the English Language ~ by Richard Lederer, 2003, language
Popular author and speaker Richard Lederer is one of the foremost and funniest commentators on the pleasures and quirks of the English language.  In this far-ranging and career-capping collection of essays, Lederer offers readers more of the irrepressible wordplay and linguistic high jinx his fans can't get enough of, along with observations on a life in letters.  From an inner-city classroom to a wordy weekend retreat, from centuries-old etymological legacies to the latest in slang, dialects, and fadspeak, these essays transport, inform, and entertain as only wordstruck Richard Lederer can.  Iluminating everything from secrets of the writing life to the last word on the pronunciation of nuclear and offering his thoughts on "Sex and the Singular Pronoun" and an open letter to Ann Landers (signed "English Lover in San Diego"), along with games, quizzes, and a Declaration of Linguistic Independence, this collection has something for everyone who delights in our language.
The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure ~ by James Redfield, 1993, fiction (Peru)
In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript has been discovered.  Within its pages are nine key insights into life itself — insights each human being is to grasp sequentially; one insight, then another, as we move toward a completely spiritual culture on earth.   Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your life right now and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come.  The story of discovery is also a guidebook with the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimisim as you head into tomorrow.
I read the Celestine Prophecy a couple of decades ago and am only re-reading it to discuss it with a small group.  It's a library book, but Lederer's book of essays on words and language is mine, all mine.  It was on the library's sale table for a quarter.  Don't you love finding books for practically nothing?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Proper prepositions?

Knock knock.
Who's there?
To who?
No, to whom.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Beginning ~ battle morning

1014: Brian Boru and the Battle for Ireland ~ by Morgan Llywelyn, 2014, history (Ireland), 9/10
Battle morning!  A warrior spirit thrills to those words.  This day might see the greatest battle of all, the one which a man will remember for the rest of his life.  He can tell the story over and over again to his grandchildren and warm his cold bones by the fire of their admiration.  He may even become a legend.

Battle morning!
On St. Patrick's Day, a mere three days ago, I posted a link on Facebook about "The Real Irish-American Story Not Taught in Schools."  My Irish-surnamed friend Kathryn thanked me for the article, and then a couple of hours later she commented:  "With this article you have transported me for hours, Bonnie.  Now I have downloaded a book!"  The book Kathryn got was 1014: Brian Boru and the Battle for Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn.  I ordered it, UPS delivered it yesterday evening, and it's intriguing enough that I read half of it before going to sleep last night.  Here's a summary of this book:
The date was Good Friday, April 23rd in the Year of Our Lord 1014.  The most ferocious battle ever fought in Ireland was about to begin.  In the three decades since Morgan Llyweyln wrote the bestselling novel Lion of Ireland, she has studied the legendary life of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland.  Often dismissed as a mythical figure, as all the known facts about him are contained within the several Irish annals.  But thirty years of research have led Llywelyn to conclude with certainty that Brian Boru actually lived, a great battle took place in 1014, and Ireland won.  Read about the life of Brian Boru and the battle that changed the course of Irish history in this exciting and accessible account.  Brings the Battle of Clontarf to life as never before, with a novelist's sense of narrative and a historian's sense of accuracy.  This is the most accessible account ever of this famous battle.
When I finish this nonfiction, I guess I'll just have to get Lion of Ireland, her bestselling novel.  She such a good writer.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lethal ideas

"Ideas are only lethal if you suppress and don't discuss them.  Ignorance is not bliss, it's stupid.   Banning books shows you don't trust your kids to think and you don't trust yourself to be able to talk to them."
— Anna Quindlen

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The O'Potamus clan

The entire O'Potamus clan sends St. Patrick's Day greetings through Sandra Boynton, who posted this on Facebook when the clock struck midnight in Ireland.

TWO items from the library

Ms. Magazine ~ Winter 2015 issue
This issue explores Angelina Jolie’s fight to end child marriage.  An estimated one-third of girls in developing countries will become brides before age 18. These child marriages not only force girls to give up on their dreams and drop out of school, but endanger their very lives when they’re expected to become young mothers.  It also features Black women at the forefront of a new civil rights movement, #BlackLivesMatter, which has emerged following the police killings of African American youth.  The blurb that first caught my attention, though, was the article by Barbara Kingsolver about climate change.
Few women graduated from the NYC police academy in December 2014.
Spread across the two pages exactly in the center of the magazine is this article: How to Defuse Police Violence | By Katherine Spillar. "One simple answer has been overlooked:  Hire more women officers."

Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, From Myth to Reality ~ by Helen Scales, 2009, marine biology
Poseidon's Steed trails the seahorse through secluded waters across the globe in a kaleidoscopic history that mirrors our centuries-old fascination with the animal, sweeping from the reefs of Indonesia, through the back streets of Hong Kong, and back in time to ancient Greece and Rome.  Over time, seahorses have surfaced in some unlikely places.  We see them immortalized in the decorative arts; in tribal folklore, literature, and ancient myth; and even on the pages of the earliest medical texts, prescribed to treat everything from skin complaints to baldness to flagging libido.  Marine biologist Helen Scales eloquently shows that seahorses are indeed fish, though scientists have long puzzled over their exotic anatomy, and their very strange sex lives:  Male seahorses are the only males in the animal world that experience childbirth!  Our first seahorse imaginings appeared six thousand years ago on cave walls in Australia.  The ancient Greeks called the seahorse hippocampus (half-horse, half-fish) and sent it galloping through the oceans of mythology, pulling the sea god Poseidon's golden chariot.  The seahorse has even been the center of a modern-day international art scandal:  A two-thousand-year-old winged seahorse brooch was plundered by Turkish tomb raiders and sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
     When I returned a couple of books to the library last week, I (for once) didn't have any other books on hold to pick up.  Yet I still brought home these two items — from the library's sale shelves.  I was pleasantly surprised to get the current issue of Ms. for a mere quarter.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day 3.1415

I went out to lunch with two of my friends, Sheila and Donna, and we got pies.  Mine, as you can see, were chicken pot pie and apple pie.  I put both on the same plate to take this picture.  What's that you say?  Oh, you want to know why both pies are partly eaten?  Do you mean to tell me you've never heard that "life is short, so eat dessert first"?
Someone over there is wondering what "Pi Day 3.1415" in the title has to do with my lunch.  Here's a clue:  "Pi," which is pronounced "pie," is 3.1415.  Most of us had to learn that in math class sometime during our schooling.  The connection is today's date.  March 14, 2015 can be written 3-14-15.  This correspondence between "pi" and today's date won't happen again for another hundred years.  Now that you know, have a ...
To be really cool, eat your pie at 9:26 tonight.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Beginning ~ with a long line

No Job for a Lady ~ by Carol McCleary, 2014, fiction (Mexico)
I bite my upper lip, a terrible habit when I'm nervous.  This time it's the long line for tickets at the train station causing the chewing.  The ticket counter is an opening in an outside wall of the station house, leaving those of us in line to endure the cool of the evening as night falls.  A line this long, this late, isn't a good sign.  The insane trip I set out on has already taken more than one wrong turn, and I don't need anything else to go sour.
The prologue started with a description of Teotihuacan, Mexico, and why it's such a scary place. It sounds scary, all right, but I'd have to share several paragraphs to show why SHE was scared.  So I gave you the first few lines of chapter one.  Here's a summary of the novel:
History, mystery, and murder are the traveling companions of Nellie Bly, the world's first female investigative reporter.  Nellie defies the wrath of her editor and vengeful ancient gods while setting out to prove a woman has what it takes to be a foreign correspondent in dangerous Victorian times.  Pyramids, dark magic, and dead bodies are what the intrepid Nellie encounters when she takes off for Mexico after her editor refuses to let her work as a foreign correspondent because "it's no job for a lady."  It's 1886 and Mexico has not cast off all its bloodthirsty Aztec past.  Nellie is stalked by ruthless killers seeking Montezuma's legendary treasure and an ancient cult that resorts to the murderous Way of the Aztec to protect it.  And there's the mysterious Roger Watkins, who romantically and physically challenges Nellie's determination to be an independent woman in a man's world.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

BTT (#46) ~ bookcases

Deb at Booking Through Thursday asks:
"Two part question:  (1)  In an ideal world, what kind of book cases would you have?  Built-ins?  Barrister ones with glass doors?  The cheapest you could find so you could have lots of them?  (2)  And … what kind of bookcases do you REALLY have?"
My "ideal world" has been different at various times in my life.  Decades ago, my husband made heavy bookcases with adjustable shelves that LOOKED like built-ins.  That was fine then, when we owned our house.  But now I live in an apartment and I'm almost 75 years old.  I wouldn't be able to move those heavy shelves if I needed to, but now I have low shelves that fold into themselves to be moved and also stack if I need more floor space.  Luckily, that's exactly what I have.  That's a photo above of some of my shelves.

Books to empower girls

Women's History Month is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.  I'll celebrate with books, of course.  Here are two of my favorite children's books that empower girls.

Miss Rumphius ~ by Barbara Cooney, 1982, children's, 10/10
This beautiful book, which won the American Book Sellers National Book Award, passes along the wisdom of a grandfather's philosophy of life.  He told Alice Rumphius that she should not only travel the world and come home to live by the sea, but also to do something in her life to make the world more beautiful.  Little Alice grew up, traveled, and settled by the sea, and what she did to make the world more beautiful was to plant lupines all over the place.
Once upon a time, I was asked, "If you could meet any fictional character who would it be and why?"  My answer was "Miss Rumphius."  I love how she grew up wanting to make the world a better place and how she figured out a way to do it.  I've written about Miss Rumphius again and again on this blog.

The Paper Bag Princess ~ by Robert N. Munsch, 1980, children's, 9/10
Princess Elizabeth is a spunky little girl.  The dragon smashed her castle, burned all her clothes, and carried off Prince Ronald (p. 28).  The only thing the princess could find to wear was a paper bag, yet she bravely went after the dragon.  Was Ronald grateful when she rescued him?&nbsp Oh, no!  He said (pp. 46-48):

"Elizabeth, you are a mess!  You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag.  Come back when you are dressed like a real princess."

"Ronald," said Elizabeth, "your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat.  You look like a real prince, but you are a bum."

They didn't get married after all.
This is another book I've mentioned more than once, like for the 25th anniversary edition.  I love children's books that go against the norm.

And look!  This article about Twelve Empowering Children's Books To Add To Little Girls' Bookshelves includes both of my favorite children's books.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"The Emperor's New Clothes" ~ a musical

Book by Kim Esop Wylie
Music by Joe Dreyer
Lyrics by Sheila Schultz
Directed by Kat Singleton

I'm planning to attend Saturday's performance of this free musical.  Who wants to join me?

My friend Sheila wrote the lyrics
Presented by the Imaginary Theater Company
Date:  Saturday, March 14, 2015
Time:  11:00am - 11:45am
...Brentwood Recreation Center
...2505 South Brentwood Blvd.
...Brentwood, MO 63144
Sponsored by the Brentwood Public Library

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Two books in the mail

These two books arrived in the mail last week.  Another pair, another TWOsday.
Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race ~ by Debby Irving, 2014, memoir
For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships.  As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend.  As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction.  As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing.  Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan.  In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.
Mailbox: A Scattershot Novel of Racing, Dares and Danger, Occasional Nakedness, and Faith ~ by Nancy Freund, 2015, fiction
It's 1976.  The USA turns 200 while scrappy agnostic Sandy Drue turns 10, finds an electric typewriter in her father's office, and begins turning out page after page on the conflicting demands of burgeoning adolescence and her own quiet search for the Meaning of Life.  The result is a beguiling collection of loosely linked short stories and vignettes, gathered by a now 13-year-old Sandy into an unconventional novel structured like a blog, long before blogging.  In the wake of the Watergate scandal, American society is in a state of bewilderment, the economy is fragile, and Sandy's friends are secretly reading Judy Blume — against their mothers' warnings.  The Drue family has moved from New York to Small Town USA where Sandy and her brother try to find their way to fit in.  What they find instead is something ultimately more valuable.
The first was a purchase; the second is an ARC which won't be published until May 10th.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Beginning ~ with a Christian felon

Kind of Kin ~ by Rilla Askew, 2013, fiction (Oklahoma)
"Your grandpa is a felon," Aunt Sweet said.  "A felon and a Christian.  He says he's a felon because he's a Christian.  Now, what kind of baloney is that?"  She jerked the bib strings tight around Mr. Bledsoe's neck.  The old man coughed.  "Sorry..."
That beginning is different.  Yes, I wonder what's going on, and this summary of the story gives me a clue or two:
With the passsing of a new state law, it becomes a felony to harbor an undocumented immigrant in Oklahoma.  So when Robert John Brown, a churchgoing family man and respected community member, is caught hiding a barnful of migrant workers with no papers, he is arrested and sent to prison.  Meanwhile, his ten-year-old grandson Dustin tried to help the sole escapee of the raid reunite with his family, and his granddaughter, Misty, is struggling to raise her daughter alone after her husband, an illegal immigrant himself, has been deported.  Then there's Brown's daughter Sweet, who finds her life unraveling:  her father is refusing to speak in court to defend himself, her nephew is missing, her niece is in need of shelter, and the stress of it all is destroying her marriage.

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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Why English is such a difficult language

Susan at Patchwork Reflections sent me an email about why English is such a difficult language.  I edited the list and added to it, so here's something for you to think about.

Some words and concepts are very illogical.
  • A house burns up as it burns down.
  • You fill in a form by filling it out.
  • An alarm goes off by going on.
  • There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger.
  • There are neither apples nor pines in pineapples.
  • English muffins weren't invented in England, nor French fries in France.
  • Quicksand works slowly.
  • Sweetmeats are candies, but sweetbreads (which aren't sweet) are meat.
  • Boxing rings are square.
  • A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
  • And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham?
  • If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?
  • One goose and two geese, but the plural of moose is not meese.
  • You can make amends, but not one amend.
  • If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, is that last thing an odd, or an end?
  • If we say teachers taught yesterday, why don't we say preachers praught on Sunday?
  • If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
  • If olive oil is made from olives, what is baby oil made from?
  • Why do we recite at a play and play at a recital?
  • Why do we ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
  • Why do we park in a driveway, but drive on a parkway?
  • Why do we have noses that run and feet that smell?
  • How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
  • When the stars are out, they are visible; but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
Some words are spelled the same, but don't sound alike (or sound alike though spelled differently).
1)  The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
2)  The farm was used to produce produce.
3)  The bandage was wound around the wound.
4)  We must polish the Polish furniture.
5)  He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6)  The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7)  Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8)  A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9)  When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10)  I did not object to the object.
11)  The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12)  There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13)  They were too close to the door to close it.
14)  The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15)  A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16)  To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17)  The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18)  After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19)  Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20)  I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21)  How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
We have to marvel at the unique lunacy of our language.  Because English was invented by people and not by computers, it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, is not a race at all).

P.S. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lunch today at the Circle@Crown Café

Bev rings up Donna's order of hot spiced cider
Today was opening day of the Circle@Crown Café, a sort of practice day as Jean and her crew get the kinks out of the system.  Donna and I went, of course.  They aren't yet serving everything that will be on the menu, but we each had a half-sandwich (hers tuna salad, mine egg salad) with a choice of breads, a banana, and a drink.  Actually, Donna also went back for hot spiced cider, after we studied the menus for breakfast and for lunch, posted on the chalkboards.

We can report that the food is good, it's kosher, and the Crown Center residents are excited about this opening.  Best of all, the people are very friendly, as you can see by Cheryl's broad smile.  That's nothing new, since all the volunteers and employees I've met since I moved here are all wonderful people.  Now we can meet friends for lunch in our own café without leaving the building.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that we now have wi-fi on the ground floor, with comfy chairs off to the side of the tables in the café so we can use our laptops there, if we like.  Isn't this a great place to live?