Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Salon ~ school and other classes

First, my five great-grandchildren.  Shelby and Jaxon were excited and all ready for the first day of school — preschool, that is.  It's his last year of preschool and her first.

Micah and Jonathan are happy at "school" — actually, day care — which they have just begun this week.  Raegan started first grade a couple of weeks ago, and lost her first tooth a couple of days ago.

Then moving up a generation to my seven grandkids.  This photo shows Cady's first day as a high school sophomore in mid-August.  She's my youngest grandchild.  A couple of my grandsons are still in college.

My children are busy working, rather than taking classes, so I'll move up to my generation.  At 75, I attend classes where I can have fun.  My best friend Donna ("Cool people care") and I (the presumed novelist) learned how to make root beer floats.  Well, we already knew how and have done it over many years, but it was a "class" with participation.  That basically means we ate what we made, and each of us got to keep the unusual glass that was provided.

Here I am with some of my friends and acquaintenances in an exercise class where we use ballet moves.  Left to right, Linda in brown, Joan in blue, Marlene, Bella, and Mrs. Chen.  Reflected in the mirror are Vanessa (who dances professionally) in pink, Bonnie (almost lost behind Joan's reflection), and Donna framed against the closet door.

Good news!  My blood sugar level (A1C) is down so much that my new doctor says I am once again "pre-diabetic."  The term simply indicates where I am in terms of controlling it with diet and exercise.  I'm actually down 60 pounds from my highest weight of a few years ago and feeling great.


A Heretic's Guide to Eternity ~ by Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor, 2006
Distinguishing between religion and spirituality, Burke offers what he calls a new way of looking at God, one centered on the idea of grace. He emphasizes a God who is looking to save the world, not a God who seems more intent on condemning certain practices . . . . For Burke, God is to be questioned, not simply obeyed. His challenging thesis will appeal to many people today who have given up on organized religion but still seek some connection to spirituality.
Only one book to report today.  This one arrived in the office on Friday, but the notice taped to my mailbox in the lobby didn't appear until Saturday.  The security guard at the link desk opened the office and let me sign it out, so I was able to look it over last night.  This is the book my study group has chosen to discuss over the next few weeks or months.  In other words, this is a class of sorts.  You could say we teach ourselves by intense study and commitment to reading the sections we'll be discussing.  Donna has agreed to lead our reflections as we work our way through this book.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bright red bug report on Caturday

This has been an exciting week.  We seem to have red bugs in our apartment building.  Sometimes I see one scurrying across the carpet, and I chase it.  Sometimes it runs up the wall.  So far, it has always managed to slip away even when I have pounced on it with my paws.  I have no idea how Bonnie captured this slightly blurry moment, since I was moving pretty fast while chasing this bright red bug.

One day this past week, when we went to visit Donna, there were TWO red bugs dashing around.  I wasn't able to catch either one of them, but I tried.  Maybe I'll spot another one today.  Have a wonderful Caturday.

Clawdia   >^. .^<

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Caturday with Clawdia

I almost forgot it was Caturday.  Bonnie went to a movie today, then she went out to eat with our friend Donna — and they didn't invite me!  Donna did come to visit me and gave me treats, so I forgive them.  I even curled up with Bonnie tonight on our bed, while she read using her other hand.  I've lived here with her for a month, as of tomorrow, and she's learning rather quickly which food I prefer.  But it's still frustrating that I have to tell her repeatedly that she isn't giving me enough each time she feeds me.

Let's see, what have I done this week?  I ate, I slept, I meowed pitifully whenever Bonnie needed to be reminded to feed me MORE.  Oh, yes, I also visited Donna's apartment a couple of times.  I get in my carrier (well, Bonnie's the carrier of the comfortable blue thing shown above that I like to sleep in), and Bonnie takes me to Donna's apartment.  When I've looked around two or three or ten times, I get back in the blue thing so Bonnie will know to take me home.  Donna gives me treats, too, but first I like to check out her kitchen and all around her desk and her sofa and her windows, which have a different view than I can see from my windows on the sixth floor.  The last time we visited, Donna's bathroom door was open and I looked around in there, but she doesn't have a litter box like we do.  Enough for now.  I'll try to think of something more exciting to tell you next Caturday.

Clawdia   >^. .^<

Friday, August 21, 2015

Beginning ~ by breaking the window

The Reconstructionist ~ by Josephine Hart, 2001, fiction (Ireland and England)
Afterwards ... we were asked to reconstruct the event.  Much detail was required of us concerning how the hours had been spent between midday, when we had been seen to return from church, and four-thirty that afternoon when they broke the window and entered the house.
Okay, I'm curious about what's going on.  Who is "we" and who broke in?  And specifically, what happened?  Here's a summary of the story.
This novel explores the reckless quality of exclusive love, the damage done in families, and the way we build our lives from the fragments of memory, half-truths, compromise, and desire.  Jack Harrington is a psychiatrist, dedicated to others, to the examination of their pasts and the reconstruction of their lives.  But he has so absorbed himself in the problems of others that he has not quite come to grips with his ownto the detriment of his marriage and his own unexamined past.  When Jack is summoned to Ireland for the sale of his family home, however, the burdens of his family's heritage return in full force. Though he has successfully suppressed the anguish of his past, the present threatens to unravel around him.  In the house in Ireland terrible truths emerge about what happened years ago in a family tragedy that left indelible marks on those who survived it. The past may have been reconstructed many times, but the appalling truth has not.

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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Caturday ~ introducing myself

This is currently my favorite spot.  Signed, Clawdia   >^. .^<
I've lived with Bonnie three whole weeks now, and she's only just now told me the last cat who lived with her (Kiki) used to blog here.  I didn't realize Bonnie would allow me to use her laptop to do my own thing.  Wow!  And just today, one of Bonnie's friends asked if she had taught me to read yet.  Please!  I'm six years old and have been reading for years.

Bonnie thinks she has re-named me Clawdia.  Really, though, you humans cannot articulate the correct pronunciation of my name in my own cat language because your vocal cords are not made right.  So she can call me Clawdia if she prefers, and I'll call her what I've always called all the humans in my world:  "FeedMe, FeedMe, FeedMe."  Sometimes she's a little slower about feeding me than I would like, but she'll do okay.  I just have to keep reminding her, all day long, starting usually around 5:00 in the morning.  I have to walk on Bonnie's pillow and meow a reminder that she's slept quite long enough and should "FeedMe, FeedMe, FeedMe."

My signature will be:   >^. .^<
It's a cat.  Can you tell?
It's a cat peeking over something.
Okay, the whiskers are a bit high, but it's a cat.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Beginning ~ with a knock on the door

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite ~ by Suki Kim, 2014, memoir

Opening lines:
At 12:45 P.M. on Monday, December 19, 2011, there was a knock at my door.  My heart sank.  I knew who would be there.  I ignored it and continued shoving my clothes into the suitcase.  The knock came again.  She knew that I was inside, and she was not going to go away.
This is the next book for one of my book clubs, and I knew nothing about it when I checked it out of the library.  Here's a summary:
This is a haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea's ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il's reign.  Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea:  "Without you, there is no motherland.  Without you, there is no us."   It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it.  It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has accepted a job teaching English.  Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime.

Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders, but from her colleagues evangelical Christian missionaries who don't know or choose to ignore that Suki doesn't share their faith.  As the weeks pass, she is mystified by how easily her students lie, unnerved by their obedience to the regime.  At the same time, they offer Suki tantalizing glimpses of their private selves their boyish enthusiasm, their eagerness to please, the flashes of curiosity that have not yet been extinguished.  She in turn begins to hint at the existence of a world beyond their own at such exotic activities as surfing the Internet or traveling freely and, more dangerously, at electoral democracy and other ideas forbidden in a country where defectors risk torture and execution.  But when Kim Jong-il dies, and the boys she has come to love appear devastated, she wonders whether the gulf between her world and theirs can ever be bridged.  This memoir offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world's most unknowable country-and at the privileged young men the author calls "soldiers and slaves."

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Library Loot ~ only one book this week

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq ~ by Jeanette Winter, 2005, children's, 7/10
Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq.  The book begins with a quote from her:  "In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was 'Read.'"  For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books.  Until now.  Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library along with the thirty thousand books within it will be destroyed forever.  In a war-stricken country where civilians especially women have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries.  Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.
This page shows my favorite illustration, mostly for what it says.  Or rather, for what this librarian DID.  Remember, this is a true story.  In case you can't read the tiny illustration, here's what the page says:
"So Alia takes matters into her own hands.
Secretly, she brings books home every night,
filling her car late after work."
There's something in this picture I didn't notice until I put it in this post. Do you see the star and crescent symbol that became associated with Islam in the mid-20th century?  It's orange, through all the other stars are white.

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

Beginning with a dream — or is it a nightmare?

Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di ~ by Kris Waldherr, 2008, history

Opening lines:
Welcome to your favorite dream and worst nightmare.  You are cosseted in silk, crowned with gold, and bowed to.  Courtiers laugh at your jokes and compliment your beauty, even when you know you're having a bad hair day.  All envy you, but things change.  Just years later, even those who admired you steer clear of your path.  Your influence is on the wane for any number of reasons.  The fault could be yours . maybe you aren't as clever as you thought in the scheming department.  Or it could be that others are scheming against you.
A new acquaintance handed me this book, saying she was sure I'd like it.  Um, nope, I don't think so.  It tries very hard to be quirky and fun, but it isn't one that interests me.  I'd rather read some of the other books on my shelves, on my bedside table, on my Kindle.  But maybe it's right up your alley.  Here's a summary of the book:
Illicit love, madness, betrayal it isn't always good to be the queen.  Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots.  What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers.  But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to the executioner.  And they are hardly alone in their undignified demises.  Throughout history, royal women have had a distressing way of meeting bad ends dying of starvation, being burned at the stake, or expiring in childbirth while trying desperately to produce an heir.  They always had to be on their toes and all too often even devious plotting, miraculous pregnancies, and selling out their sisters was not enough to keep them from forcible consignment to religious orders.  From Cleopatra (suicide by asp), to Princess Caroline (suspiciously poisoned on her coronation day), there's a gory downside to being blue-blooded when you lack a Y chromosome.  Kris Waldherr's elegant little book is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of queens across the ages, a quirky, funny, utterly macabre tribute to the dark side of female empowerment.  Over the course of fifty irresistibly illustrated and too-brief lives, Doomed Queens charts centuries of regal backstabbing and intrigue.  We meet well-known figures like Catherine of Aragon, whose happy marriage to Henry VIII ended prematurely when it became clear that she was a starter wife the first of six.  And we meet forgotten queens like Amalasuntha, the notoriously literate Ostrogoth princess who overreached politically and was strangled in her bath. While their ends were bleak, these queens did not die without purpose.  Their unfortunate lives are colorful cautionary tales for today's would-be power brokers a legacy of worldly and womanly wisdom gathered one spectacular regal ruin at a time.

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ferguson and Faith ~ book signing this evening

Ferguson and Faith ~ by Leah Gunning Francis, 2015
The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, re-ignited a long-smoldering movement for justice, with many St. Louis area clergy stepping up to support the emerging young leaders of today's Civil Rights Movement.  Seminary professor Leah Gunning Francis was among the activists, and her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the movement's new organizers take us behind the scenes of the continuing protests.  Ferguson and Faith demonstrates that being called to lead a faithful life can take us to places we never expected to go, with people who never expected us to join hands with them.
Author speaking tonight at Left Bank Books.  She drew murmurs and a bit of laughter when she said, "I have skin in this game."  Bonnie and Donna are four rows in front of the photographer, on the left (I'm directly behind the woman wearing the salmon colored blouse).  Posted on her Facebook page for this book, published today, was this quote from the author:  "The questions posed in my book are:  Where do we go from here?  How do we live together in a future of hope?"  This evening, she kept saying, "There is a Ferguson near you."  She also said we don't have to visit Ferguson (a few miles from the bookstore and from where I live), but we need to "get busy dismantling white supremacy right where you are."

About the author
Author's web site and Author's Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Leah Gunning Francis is Assistant Professor of Christian Education and Associate Dean of Contextual Education at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where she has taught since 2008.  She earned her Ph.D from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2009 and her M.Div. from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 2001.