Friday, October 30, 2015

Beginning ~ with a strange, ominous rumble

The House I Loved ~ by Tatiana de Rosnay, 2012, fiction (France)
My Beloved,
I can hear them coming up our street.  It is a strange, ominous rumble.  Thuds and blows.  The floor aquiver under my feet.
Here's a synopsis of the novel.
Paris, France: 1860's.  Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a "modern city." The reforms will erase generations of history—but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.  Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. This story is an ode to Paris, where houses harbor the joys and sorrows of their inhabitants, and secrets endure in the very walls.

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Methodist Meditation

I think I may have found the perfect meditation for me!  After a bit of experimentation, I'll let you know what I decide.  Perhaps I should consult Clawdia, since she has a lot of experience in this sort of thing.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Caturday ~ catnap comfort

Earlier this week, I discovered that my friend Sunshine had climbed off the floor near a window into the upper shelf of this little blue thing.  So I got in there with Sunshine and took a warm nap, after I allowed Bonnie to snap this picture.

I've been busy this morning.  Bonnie opened this bottom drawer for me to explore, so I rearranged all the stuff in there to my own satisfaction and took a nap.  It was comfortable — and something different.  Do you detect a pattern?  It's a cat thing.  That's why we call it a "catnap."

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^. .^<

Friday, October 23, 2015

Beginning ~ with ghosts of the past

Orphan Train ~ by Christina Baker Kline, 2013, fiction (Minnesota and Maine), 10/10
I believe in ghosts.  They're the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind.  Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.

I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost.
Those opening lines pulled me in, and the story kept me reading most of last night.  I finished the book this morning when I woke up, rating it a 10 of 10 because I couldn't put it down.
As a young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian Daily was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.  Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur.  But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.  Seventeen-year-old Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to "aging out" of the foster care system.  A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvenile hall.  As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren't as different as they appear.  Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life — answers that will ultimately free them both.
I was interested in Vivian's Claddagh cross, which is mentioned often throughout the story.  I looked it up, wondering why it is significant.  Vivian Daly's name changes over the course of the novel, from Niamh Power to Dorothy Nielsen to Vivian Daly.  Molly is a teenager helping the elderly woman sort through her boxes of memories, ostensibly to discard most of the stuff.  I consider this bit (from page 173) a turning point.
Molly has virtually given up on the idea of disposing of anything.  After all, what does it matter?  Why shouldn't Vivian's attic be filled with things that are meaningful to her?  The stark truth is that she will die sooner than later.  And then professionals will descend on the house, neatly and efficiently separating the valuable from the sentimental, lingering only over items of indeterminate origin or worth.  So yes — Molly has begun to view her work at Vivian's in a different light.  Maybe it doesn't matter how much gets done.  Maybe the value is in the process — in touching each item, in naming and identifying, in acknowledging the significance of a cardigan, a pair of children's boots.
Since Orphan Train is my book club's choice for November, I was pleased to discover a reader's guide.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teaser TWOsday ~ Recycled Reads

Two teasers on TWOsday from The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet by Tony Abbott, 1999, children's chapter book.
(#1)  "Thginot Dekcatta Eb Lliw Frodnefroz" (p. 30).

(#2)  "Neal started running along the path.  He rushed into a clearing.  And he bumped his nose on something that wasn't there" (p. 31).
"The Secrets of Droon" is a fantasy book series by Tony Abbott with illustrations by Tim Jessel that's aimed at elementary school-age children.  The princess in the book is ten years old.
Underneath the steps leading down to Eric’s basement is a hidden storage space.  It’s dusty and old — nothing special  at all.  But when Eric, Julie, and Neal all huddle inside the gray room together, something unbelievable happens.  A glittering light and then a rainbow-colored staircase appear.  And as the kids take their very first step down to the mysterious land of Droon, they know that only magic and adventure await them!
Here's the story of how I came to have this book in my hands.
I was shelving books in the small library in the Crown Center, which is a "senior living" facility.  In other words, we're all old folks who live here.  Yet there on the counter was this small book someone had left there among books to be shelved.  For starters, we don't have a children's section, obviously.  I noticed a big sticker covering the author's name.
It's similar to this one I found on the St. Louis County Library website.
SLCL is excited to introduce Recycled Reads.  The program takes surplus library materials and gives them another life by circulating them throughout the community, encouraging people to read while they wait.  Displays will be set up at over 60 locations throughout St. Louis County where people typically spend time waiting including laundromats, hair/nail salons, health care providers, auto care shops, and more.  A complete list of Recycled Reads locations is below.  No library card will be required to borrow the materials. There are no fines or due dates. Individuals are asked to return the items whenever they’re finished to the original locale.
The actual sticker on this book says:  "Return it to any SLCL location or Recycled Reads site."  So I plan to take it to my Mid-County branch the next time I go.  What a great idea, huh?  Oh, by the way!  Did you figure out the secret code in the #1 teaser above?  It's easy to do if you're ten years old.  Simply spell everything backwards, and "Thginot Dekcatta Eb Lliw Frodnefroz" ... becomes ... "Zorfendorf will be attacked tonight."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon officially started at 7:00 a.m. my time, but I was still asleep.  I had decided NOT to participate this year, but at 11:00 a.m., I saw my first Dewey's post and gave in.  I need to read from my Kindle, since I bought four more books this week.  Okay, I'm off and running!  I mean, reading!

7:00 am.  Zzzzzzzz.  I was still asleep, perhaps dreaming of books.
11:30 am.  Put this together and posted it, fed the cat, ate breakfast.
12:30 pm.  Found where to sign up to participate today.
12:45 pm.  Started reading The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu.
2:35 pm.  Linked this post to the Pre-Party Post for introductions.
1)  What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I live in St. Louis, Missouri.  Specifically, I live in University City in St. Louis County.
2)  Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?  The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu, published in 2014, which I'll be teaching in a few weeks.  I picked it up today at Loc 1359, which is 50% into it.
3)  Which snack are you most looking forward to?  I didn't plan anything, but I know I have ice cream in the freezer.
4)  Tell us a little something about yourself.  I did this exact same meme in 2013, saying:  "Reader, writer, blogger, mom, grandmother, great-grandmother, retired pastor, teacher, friend."  That will have to do.
5)  If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?  If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  I haven't participated in Dewey's 24-hour marathon since April 2013, but I know I won't push myself as hard this time, partly by skipping all the fun mini-challenges.  The cat who will try to distract me is named Clawdia.
6:30 pm.  Time for a break, so I'll do the Mid-Event Survey.
1.  What are you reading right now?  I switched to a memoir, which is going faster:  The Girls, Alone: Six Days in Estonia by Bonnie J. Rough, 2015
2.  How many books have you read so far?  Parts of two.
3.  What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  Continuing this "six days in Estonia" memoir, which is also a travel narrative.  I searched and found this online photo overlooking "old town" Tallinn, Estonia.  Now I can also SEE where I'm reading.
4.  Have you had many interruptions?  How did you deal with those?  Only Clawdia, the cat, wanting to eat after a long nap.  I fed her.  Being retired has its advantages.
5.  What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  How fast the day is going by!  It's already almost dark outside, but I hadn't noticed.
7:30 pm.  Did laundry and worked in the library at the Crown Center, where I live (and volunteer).  It gave me time for some reading while my clothes were in the washer and the dryer.
10:00 pm.  Took a break.
12:30 am.  Still reading, but getting sleepy.

3:00 am.  Okay, here's a mini-challenge I can't ignore.  "Shelfie mini-challenge, just take a picture aka Shelfie of your shelves, or you and your shelves, post it up somewhere and link it below."  So here's the top section of one of my bookshelves at 3:00 in the morning.

11:00 am.  Zzzzzzzz.  Shortly after posting that photo, I fell asleep with the book (actually, the Kindle) in my hand and slept a solid 7-8 hours.  I feel great this morning, partly because I finished one book — The Girls, Alone: Six Days in Estonia by Bonnie J. Rough, 2015, memoir — which I rated 9 of 10, an excellent book.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TWO comments ~ on TWOsday

Joy @ Joy's Book Blog posted today:
"Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.  On Sunday, we lugged all the luggage upstairs and attempted a practice pack for our trip to Cuba.  By the time I was done running around the house to find what we needed, FitBit reported that I climbed 61 floors of steps.  I just looked up the tallest building in St. Louis — it’s One Metropolitan Square with 42 stories.  So, I could have climbed to the top on Sunday and still had energy for more.  Of course, the tallest structure in St. Louis is the Arch.  The FAQ page says that it’s 63 stories tall. If I’d known that on Sunday, I would have climbed from the basement to the second floor one more time just to say that I climbed to the top of the Arch."
I left Joy this comment:
Being still fairly new to St. Louis, it was fun to read about the tallest building here.  And you almost “climbed” to the top of the Arch on Sunday, in a manner of speaking!  I’m impressed.  And what a fun comparison.
Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food ~ by Megan Kimble, 2015

Linda @ Silly Little Mischief chose a Tuesday Teaser from this book:
"For most of its early history-for at least the last three thousand years-chocolate was consumed in liquid form, usually prepared by brewing ground cacao in hot water, much like coffee today. It was a bitter brew, one drunk to invigorate rather than to indulge." (p. 63).
I left Linda this comment:
I bought this book for my Kindle, and it doesn't tell me page numbers.  Instead, it has 5790 "locations."  I don't even know how many pages the "real book" has, but I decided to see if I could find the quote you shared.  YES!!!  It didn't take long for me to find it, based on where I figured page 63 of a "regular" book would be.  I found it at "Loc 1180 of 5790," according to the bottom of the page.
To satisfy my curiosity, I looked up the number of "book" pages on Amazon.  The paperback version has 352 pages, and the Kindle version has 1064 KB.  I wonder about that, as in, how does one convert KBs to "locations" or vice versa?  There doesn't seem to be a hardback version of this book at all.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Five ~ cover to cover edition

Today's Friday Five is brought to us by 3dogmom.
"We’ve been rearranging and reorganizing books at our house, a dangerous activity when trying to accomplish a task during precious leisure time — the lure of forgotten titles and favorite stories can be deliciously distracting, not to mention inspire a Friday Five theme.  Share with us some of your favorites."
1.  A cookbook ~ Unprocessed.  I rarely use cookbooks, so I'm sharing a "foodbook."  ("Foodbook" is now a word because I just used it).  I'm currently reading this foodbook, partly because I joined the 2015 Foodies Read Challenge.  (Notice how handy the word has already become; I've used it three times in three consecutive sentences.)  As a matter of fact, I am nibbling raw cauliflower as I look up books and compose this Friday Five.
Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble (2015) — "By way of harvest or heat, all food is processed, and often it is the better for it. ... I decided to see if I could go a year without eating a processed food. ... When I first hatched the project ... I thought that I should figure out precisely what made a food processed and then begin.  But as it turned out, it would take me a year to figure out where to draw the line, to understand where our food system succeeds and fails in processing food from land.  That figuring out is what you're holding in your hands." — from the Introduction.
2.  A novel ~ Some Luck.  I'm reading this for Tuesday evening's book club made up of women of my church and people they have introduced to the group.  I've taken a couple of my friends, and I know the mother of one is also on the email list.
Some Luck by Jane Smiley (2014) — It's 1920 in Denby, Iowa.  Rosanna and Walter Langdon have just welcomed their firstborn son, Frank, into their family farm.  He will be the oldest of five.  Each chapter in this extraordinary novel covers a single year, encompassing the sweep of history as the Langdons abide by time-honored values and pass them on to their children.  With the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change through the early 1950s, we watch as the personal and the historical merge seamlessly:  One moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis.  Later still, a girl we’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own.
3.  A nonfiction book ~ Witnessing Whiteness.  I'm reading this one for an interfaith discussion with the Jewish synagogue next to my United Methodist Church.  We live in St. Louis, and the Ferguson Commission report has generated lots of conversations on racism and what we can do about it.
Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk about Race and How to Do It by Shelly Tochluk (2010) invites readers to consider what it means to be white, describes and critiques strategies used to avoid race issues, and identifies the detrimental effect of avoiding race on cross-race collaborations. The author illustrates how racial discomfort leads white people toward poor relationships with people of color. Questioning the implications our history has for personal lives and social institutions, the book considers political, economic, socio-cultural, and legal histories that shaped the meanings associated with whiteness. Drawing on dialogue with well-known figures within education, race, and multicultural work, the book offers intimate, personal stories of cross-race friendships that address both how a deep understanding of whiteness supports cross-race collaboration and the long-term nature of the work of excising racism from the deep psyche. Concluding chapters offer practical information on building knowledge, skills, capacities, and communities that support anti-racism practices, a hopeful look at our collective future, and a discussion of how to create a culture of witnesses who support allies for social and racial justice. For book discussion groups and workshop plans, please visit
4.  A well-thumbed book to which you turn often, or with affection, used in our profession ~ Tao Te Ching.  Okay, it's Taoist, but before I retired from the United Methodist Church, I was also an adjunct teacher of religions of the world at Chattanooga State Community College in Tennessee.  I have more than a dozen different translations of this book, and I especially like this one by Ursula K. Le Guin, a non-theologian and a very good writer.  I started re-reading it on Monday, before meditating on wisdom.
Lao Tzu : Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way by Ursula K. Le Guin (1997) — Le Guin, best known for thought-provoking science fiction novels that have helped to transform the genre, has studied the Tao Te Ching for more than forty years.  She has consulted the literal translations and worked with Chinese scholars to develop a version that lets the ancient text speak in a fresh way to modern people, while remaining faithful to the poetic beauty of the work.  Avoiding scholarly interpretations and esoteric Taoist insights, she has revealed the Tao Te Ching's immediate relevance and power, its depth and refreshing humor, in a way that shows better than ever before why it has been so much loved for more than 2,500 years.  Included are Le Guin's own personal commentary and notes on the text
5.  An author you recommend frequently to others ~ Marcus J. Borg.  I'm reading this last book published before he died.
Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most (2014) — Do Christian beliefs still matter?  Do they really change us or the world?  Borg reflects on the convictions that he has developed over the course of his life and why they provide a path of hope for those seeking to be faithful Christiahs in the 21st century.  He explains why most of today's summaries of Christian belief fail to move us or guide us and serve mostly to keep score among the various Christian tribes.  He encourages today's followers of Jesus to become more rooted to the deep convictions that can actually lead us to transformation and renewal, both for ourselves and for our world.  Each chapter embodies a distinct conviction:
1.  Context Matters
2.  Faith Is a Journey
3.  God Is Real and Is a Mystery
4.  Salvation Is More About This Life than an Afterlife
5.  Jesus Is the Norm of the Bible
6.  The Bible Can Be True Without Being Literally True
7.  Jesus's Death on the Cross Matters — But Not Because He Paid for Our Sins
8.  The Bible Is Political
9.  God Is Passionate about Justice and the Poor
10.  Christians Are Called to Peace and Nonviolence
11.  To Love God Is to Love Like God
Bonus:  What are you reading now?  A Heretic's Guide to Eternity.  I'm reading all five of the books above, but I'll be happy to share one more.  I'm reading this one with a Disciples of Christ pastor and a few of her parishioners, one of whom is my best friend Donna.
A Heretic's Guide to Eternity by Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor (2006) — "A heretic is someone who sees a truth that contradicts the conventional wisdom of the institution — and remains loyal to both entities." — Art Kleiner, author of The Age of Heretics.  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.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Banned Books Week ~ reasons for banning

How many of these banned characters can you name?

Cross-posted on my Banned Books blog.