Thursday, June 30, 2016

Readers' Workouts ~ exercising healthy habits

John Wesley with our book of rules
I read an article today listing ways United Methodists fail to uphold the rules in our Book of Discipline.  One item on the list says:  "Failure of clergy to exercise habits conducive to bodily health (¶304.2)."  Hmm, I think we could shorten that and say truthfully about some:  "Failure of clergy to exercise."

Not my group, though we are seniors.
I am in an exercise class that meets twice a week for 45-60 minutes.  Our leader left for vacation this week, and I agreed to lead the group.  No, I'm not qualified to teach a class, but I can lead by asking, "What other routines do you remember?"  With all of us suggesting parts of our regular exercise routines, we got through one session without our leader this week and will do two more next week.  One person said as she left, "Good class.  I worked up a sweat."  So did I.

Readers’ Workouts is the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Library Loot ~ eBook supplemented

Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir ~ by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with Rita Lurie, 2009
This memoir explores an emotional legacy — forged in the terror of the Holocaust — that has shaped three generations of lives.  Leslie Gilbert-Lurie tells the story of her mother, Rita, who like Anne Frank spent years hiding from the Nazis, and whose long-hidden pain shaped both her daughter's and granddaughter’s lives.  Bringing together the stories of three generations of women, she reveals how deeply the Holocaust lives in the hearts and minds of survivors and their descendants.
In case you wonder about my subject line, the supplement is this memoir.  I bought it for my Kindle and discovered "Rita's Family Tree" on the page before the Prologue.  It's hard to read the 50 to 60 family names on the  chart in the library's hardback copy, but absolutely impossible for me to read them on my small Kindle.  So I borrowed the book from the library to run off a page of the family tree and to get a look at the many photos scattered throughout the book.  Sometimes an actual book works better than the electronic version.  At least, it does for me.
Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals ~ by John A Buehrens, 2003
This introductory book is designed to help empower skeptics, seekers, nonbelievers, and those of a liberal and progressive outlook to reclaim the Bible from literalists.  In making accessible some of the best contemporary historical, literary, political, and feminist readings of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, it encourages all who would find in the biblical heritage an ally and not an enemy in the quest for a more just and humane world.  Four preliminary chapters on the why, who, which, and how of biblical understanding are followed by eight brief thematic chapters covering the core of the Hebrew Bible and six covering the Christian scriptures.
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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A pair is two, or is it? ~ TWOsday

Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing From America's Favorite Humorist ~ by Erma Bombeck, 1996, humor, 8/10
Erma Bombeck was an American humorist who achieved great popularity for her newspaper column that described suburban home life from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s.  She published 15 books and wrote over 4,00 newspaper columns, some of which are collected in this volume.
Let's blame this post on Erma Bombeck, shall we?  I've been reading Forever, Erma, and I guess her quirky way of thinking rubbed off on me.  On Saturday night, I was 86% of the way through my Kindle edition, which (it tells me) is page 236 of 274 pages.  When I put down my Kindle and turned out the light, my mind took up this word puzzle:
Why do we say "a pair of pants" when it's a single item?  The words "pants" and "jeans" both end with -s, which is how we usually make words plural in English.  And we say, "I bought a pair of jeans."  Why?
The next day, I looked online for "pair of," which is how I solve word problems these days.  That "pair of" words could be defined as "Single items referred to as pairs."  The example given was a pair of pants."  Uh-huh, I got that already.  Then I found a long list that included lots of examples, such as:
  • a pair of scissors
  • a pair of glasses
  • a pair of pliers
  • a pair of clippers
On the other hand, two separate items that commonly come together are also called a pair:
  • a pair of shoes
  • a pair of socks
  • a pair of gloves
  • a pair of cuff links
  • a pair of earrings
  • a pair of skates
  • a pair of crutches
  • a pair of chopsticks
Then we also have the confusion of being able to count pairs of things:  six pairs of scissors, three pairs of shoes, two pairs of earrings.  But I still don't know why this is the way we talk.  I decided to share the pair of pears above because they fit at least one of's definitions of "pair":
  1. two identical, similar, or corresponding things that are matched for use together:
    a pair of gloves; a pair of earrings.
  2. something consisting of or regarded as having two parts or pieces joined together:
    a pair of scissors; a pair of slacks.
  3. two individuals who are similar or in some way associated:
    a pair of liars; a pair of seal pups.
  4. a married, engaged, or dating couple.
The pair of pears are (is?) a twosome, a couple.  I went back to my online search and found this informative answer to the question Why is the word "pants" plural?  Here's a snippet:
"Before the days of modern tailoring, such garments, whether underwear or outerwear, were indeed made in two parts, one for each leg.  The pieces were put on each leg separately and then wrapped and tied or belted at the waist (just like cowboys’ chaps).  The plural usage persisted out of habit even after the garments had become physically one piece.  However, a shirt was a single piece of cloth, so it was always singular."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Salon ~ eat, drink, exercise, and read

When I went to my doctor for a follow-up appointment, she said my blood pressure is up and put me on the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).  So I got a couple of books from the library:
  1. The DASH Diet Action Plan: Proven to Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol without Medication ~ by Marla Heller, 2007, health
  2. The DASH Diet for Hypertension: Lower Your Blood Pressure in 14  Days — Without Drugs ~ by Thomas Moore and three others, 2001, health
I ran across this online list of ten warning signs that about being dehydrated and decided to make sure I'm drinking enough water, especially since I woke up one day last week with severe cramps in both my legs (see #4):
  1. Increased heart rate
  2. Bad breath and dry mouth
  3. Sudden food cravings
  4. Joint and muscle pain
  5. Intense headaches
  6. Upset stomach
  7. Fatigue
  8. Infrequent urination
  9. Dry skin
  10. Trouble focusing
I thought I was drinking plenty of water, but now I'll start counting how much water I actually drink each day.

Clawdia is a friendly cat — here she's visiting a neighbor in the hall.
Besides watching what I eat and drink, exercise is the other component of getting healthier.  I've been attending an exercise class twice a week, but maybe I should exercise more often.  I guess I could do more walking, though I already walk around the Crown Center each day for the activities I've signed up for, go shopping for groceries and other necessities, run errands with and for some of the people who live here, and take my cat for a walk at least once daily, though I admit we stop a lot so she can investigate smells and look at everything dropped on the carpets and visit anyone who invites her to be petted.  Maybe I can get in the habit of doing a short exercise routine every morning.  Maybe.

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday Mindfulness ~ being compassionate

My cat loves to visit a neighbor whose door is only a dozen steps from our apartment on the sixth floor.  On our walk down the hall on Saturday evening, she plopped down at Tiny's door to indicate she wanted to go here, please and thank you.  During our visit, Tiny gave me a jigsaw coloring puzzle, which doesn't interest her.  As my readers know, I bought an adult coloring book recently and have used coloring (and working puzzles, for that matter) as a way of relaxing and meditating.  The next day, my Compassionate Sunday discussion group looked at the puzzle from Tiny and the idea of adults coloring like children.  It was Evelyn's birthday, so we also partied with her by sharing a dessert made by Donna and by sitting around the table coloring together.

By the way, one of our group had written on her blog about a book on compassion, which I promptly bought for my Kindle.

The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness ~ by Marc Ian Barasch, 2009
How can compassion, a trait hardwired into our nervous system and waiting to be awakened, transform our lives and the world at large?  Marc Barasch provides up-to-the-minute research to timeless spiritual truths, and weaves a stirring, unforgettable story of the search for kindness in a world that clearly needs it.  With unfailing curiosity, Barasch poses vital questions:
  • What can we learn from exceptionally empathetic people?
  • Can we increase our compassion quotient with practice?
  • What if the great driving force of our evolution were actually survival of the kindest?
He comes up with challenging, ultimately inspiring answers.  With encounters as diverse as observations of compassion amongst bonobo chimpanzees, to the story of a man who forgives his daughters killer, to teenage Palestinian and Israeli girls trying to wage peace, Barasch blends hard science and popular culture with his own hip, engaging narrative style to create a smart, provocative argument that a simple shift in consciousness changes pretty much everything.
 Wow!  Are we really hardwired to be compassionate?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Salon ~ a day for fathers

It's Father's Day, and I'm thinking about the father of my children.  This photo of us with our three children, taken in the mid-1960s, is my favorite one of our family.  He died in 2011.

Here's one of my own mother and father when my little brother and I were the only children.  He and I were about the same ages then as my children in the photo above.  Our other sister and brother came along later in the 1940s.  My dad died in 1964, and my mother in 2004.


I've been buying mostly Kindle books lately, but here's the hardback I bought yesterday.

The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs ~ compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, 2012
"You can't unring a bell."  "It takes a village to raise a child."  "Life is just a bowl of cherries."  We sometimes think of proverbs as expressions of ancient wisdom, but in fact new proverbs are constantly arising.  This unique volume is devoted exclusively to English-language proverbs that originated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  The most complete and accurate such collection ever compiled, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs presents more than 1,400 individual proverbs gathered and researched with the help of electronic full-text databases not previously used for such a project.  Entries are organized alphabetically by key words, with information about the earliest datable appearance, origin, history, and meaning of each proverb.  Mundane or sublime, serious or jocular, these memorable sayings represent virtually every aspect of the modern experience.  Readers will find the book almost impossible to put down once opened; every page offers further proof of the immense vitality of proverbs and their colorful contributions to the oral traditions of today.
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Meeting another author and an illustrator

Painting for Peace in Ferguson ~ by Carol Swartout Klein, 2015, children's, 9/10
Through poetry and art, this book tells the story of hundreds of artists and volunteers who turned boarded up windows into works of art with messages of hope, healing and unity in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri riots.  Written in verse, the book focuses on the way the community came together to begin the healing process through the art of the Paint for Peace effort.  Using illustrations and photographs of the art and the artists and volunteers ― black and white, young and old ― the book is a tool for beginning the conversation with children about how we all have something to contribute to healing our communities.  As the last line in the book says, "The work is not finished, there's much more to be done.  But this art shows the spirit of a new Ferguson."
Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book for All Ages ~ by Carol Swartout Klein, illustrated by Robert O'Neil, 2016, racism, 9/10
Perfect for all ages, this coloring book is designed for adults and children to color together and lets them join the hundreds of artists who transformed the community of Ferguson, Missouri, by creating dazzling and inspiring works of art with messages of peace, love, and community.  Now parents and grandparents can color with their little ones to create their own images based on the murals that covered the boarded-up windows of the town and brought real hope to the community after months of tension.  More than a dozen of the original art pieces as well as some new designs are featured with both simple and elaborate elements making it appropriate for all ages.  A wonderful companion piece to the award-winning children’s picture book Painting for Peace in Ferguson that has been acclaimed by reviewers, teachers, parents, and kids alike.  All profits from sales of both the picture book and the coloring book will be reinvested in the Ferguson community.
Meeting the author and illustrator
Carol Swartout Klein and Robert O'Neil were at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Ladue Crossing, half a mile from me, so three of us went to color single pages they brought for us while the author and a few participants shared stories.  Marilyn, Donna, and I all bought copies of the coloring book, which Carol is holding.  It was a great afternoon, sitting around that table (see the colored pencils?) with like-minded people.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Big Book Challenge

Zora Neale Hurston: Novels and Stories ~ ed. by Cheryl A. Wall, 1995, fiction (Florida)
When she died in obscurity in 1960, all of Zora Neale Hurston's books were out of print.  Now she is recognized as one of the most important and influential modern American writers.  This book features Their Eyes Were Watching God, the acclaimed 1937 novel about a woman's struggle for love and independence.  Jonah's Gourd Vine, Hurston's 1934 novel based on the story of her parents, details the rise and fall of a preacher torn between spirit and flesh.  Moses, Man of the Mountain is her 1939 retelling of the Exodus story in black vernacular.  Seraph on the Suwanee (1948) portrays the passionate clash between a poor southern "cracker" and her willful husband.  A selection of short stories is also included in this volume.
  May 25 ~ Kickoff Party and Keynote Speech by Dr. Rafia Zafar
  June 16 ~ Stories of the Harlem Renaissance with Bobby Norfolk
  June 22-24 ~ discussion of Jonah's Gourd Vine
  June 23 ~ Marquise Knox Blues Performance
July 27-29 ~ discussion of Moses, Man of the Mountain
August 18 ~ Film Screening of "Their Eyes Were Watching God"
August 24-26 ~ discussion of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Every summer, the University City Public Library features the Big Book Challenge for adults.  This year's "big book" is really several smaller books in a single volume.  We'll discuss three of the novels, as shown above, but I plan to read the rest of the book if time permits.  And I'll come back here to check off those events and discussions I'm able to attend.