Tuesday, January 30, 2018

TWOsday ~ two by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of my favorite writers. I've just requested two more of her books from my library:

(1)  No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters, 2017
  • On the absurdity of denying your age:  “If I’m ninety and believe I’m forty-five, I’m headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub.”
  • On cultural perceptions of fantasy:  “The direction of escape is toward freedom.  So what is ‘escapism’ an accusation of?”
  • On breakfast:  “Eating an egg from the shell takes not only practice, but resolution, even courage, possibly willingness to commit crime.”
Ursula K. Le Guin has taken readers to imaginary worlds for decades.  When she wrote for her blog, she was in the last great frontier of life, old age, and exploring new literary territory:  the blog, a forum for her sharp, witty, and compassionate voice.  No Time to Spare collects the best of Ursula’s online writing, presenting perfectly crystallized dispatches on what mattered to her in old age, her concerns with this world, and her unceasing wonder at it:  “How rich we are in knowledge, and in all that lies around us yet to learn.  Billionaires, all of us.”  She died a week ago, and I wrote about her on Thursday.

(2)  Words Are My Matter: Writings about Life and Books, 2016
This book is a manual for investigating the depth and breadth of contemporary fiction — and, through the lens of deep considerations of contemporary writing, a way of exploring the world we are all living in.

"We need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art.  Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.”

Le Guin is one of those authors and this is another of her moments.  She has published more than sixty books ranging from fiction to nonfiction, children’s books to poetry, and has received many lifetime achievement awards including the Library of Congress Living Legends award.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Mindfulness ~ end of the month

Click on the calendar to enlarge it.
There are only three days in this fifth week of January, and the Happiness Calendar ends.

Jan. 29 ~ Challenge your negative thoughts and look for the upside.
Jan. 30 ~ Count how many people you smile at today.
Jan. 31 ~ Write down your dreams and plans for the future.

Report on yesterday
Sunday's task was to "Put away your devices and focus fully on who you're with."  I invited a relatively new neighbor to go out to eat with me and, counting the hour we sat in our parking lot when we got back to the Crown Center, we talked and talked and talked for four hours!  Yes, really!  I'd say I focused fully on the person I was with.  Yes, we had a great time.  Yes, we plan to do it again, though maybe not for so long each time.  Yes, I was happy to get to know Dodi better.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ a book and a first for me

A Book

The Bookshop on the Corner ~ by Jenny Colgan, 2016, fiction
Nina is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more. Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile — a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home, a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.
I ordered it this morning and it arrived in seconds.  Yes, it's on my Kindle, and I've already read the first chapter.

A First for Me
Apparently other people do this all the time, but it's something I'd never done before.  I went shopping for shoes for someone else, not knowing exactly what she would like.  So I took this photo of two pairs of shoes that looked comfortable to me, and I sent it to her, with no accompanying words.  "Blue," she texted back.  And these blue shoes, the very ones in this picture, are now in her possession.  The new way to shop, I guess.  It worked for us.
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Books I completed in 2017

The photo is from January 5, 2018, when the University City Library delivered books to Crown Center's home-bound readers late on a Friday.  A day late, and nobody knew the books were in.  So I loaded up all of the deliveries and took them to people in both buildings.  Otherwise, readers would have had to wait until the office opened again on Monday to get the books they wanted to read.  I parked my cart in the Crown Center library to take this photo after I had started distributing the bags of books.
  1. Armstrong, Karen ~ Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, 1997, history, 8/10
  2. Benton, Lori ~ Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier, 2013, fiction (New York), 9/10
  3. Blume, Judy ~ Wifey, 1978 (introduction, 2004), fiction (New Jersey), nah
  4. Boyadjian, Maral ~ As the Poppies Bloomed, 2015, fiction (Turkey/Anatolia), 9/10
  5. Buehrens, John A. ~ Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals, 2003, religion, 7/10
  6. Butala, Sharon ~ The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature, 1994, memoir (Saskatchewan), 9/10
  7. Butler, Octavia E. ~ Dawn (Xenogenesis Trilogy Book One), 1987, science fiction, 7/10
  8. Carroll, Lee, and Jan Tober ~ The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived, 1999, psychology, 8/10
  9. Ceccaldi, Paula; Agnès Diricq; and Clémentine Bagieu ~ Stress: The Good and the Bad, 2001, health, 7/10
  10. Chevalier, Tracy ~ The Virgin Blue, 1997, fiction (France), 8/10
  11. Clinton, Chelsea, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger ~ She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, 2017, children's, 10/10
  12. Cosgrove, Stephen, illustrated by Robin James ~ Hucklebug, 1975, children's, 10/10
  13. Crossan, John Dominic ~ The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer, 2010, religion, 9/10
  14. Davidson, Robyn ~ Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback, 1982, 2012, memoir (Australia), 8/10
  15. DeCarlo, Melissa ~ The Art of Crash Landing, 2015, fiction (Oklahoma), 7/10
  16. Downham, Jenny ~ Unbecoming, 2016, fiction, 8/10
  17. Einhorn, Lena ~ A Shift in Time: How Historical Documents Reveal the Surprising Truth about Jesus, 2016, history, 8/10
  18. Flagg, Fannie ~ The Whole Town's Talking, 2016, fiction (Missouri), 9/10
  19. Folger, Franklin ~ Girls Will Be Girls, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, cartoons, 6/10
  20. Forman, Gayle ~ Leave Me, 2016, fiction (Pennsylvania), 9/10
  21. Gamble, Emelle ~ Secret Sister, 2013, fiction, 9/10
  22. Gentry, Amy ~ Good as Gone, 2016, fiction, nah
  23. Glickman, Mary ~ Marching to Zion, 2013, fiction (St. Louis), 6/10
  24. Godwin, Gail ~ Flora, 2013, fiction (North Carolina), 9/10
  25. Godwin, Gail ~ Grief Cottage, 2017, fiction (South Carolina), 6/10
  26. Gordon, Noah ~ The Physician ~ by Noah Gordon, 1986, fiction, 9/10
  27. Gowda, Shilpi Somaya ~ The Golden Son, 2016, fiction (India), 9/10
  28. Grainger, Jean ~ The Tour: A Trip Through Ireland, 2013, fiction (Ireland), 9/10
  29. Gregory, Philippa ~ The Other Queen, 2008, fiction (Great Britain), 9/10
  30. Hegland, Jean ~ Still Time, 2015, fiction, 8/10
  31. Hyde, Catherine Ryan ~ Ask Him Why, 2015, fiction, 8/10
  32. Irving, Debby ~ Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, 2014, race relations, 10/10
  33. Johnson, F. Willis ~ Holding Up Your Corner: Talking about Race in Your Community, 2017, race relations, 9/10
  34. Kaminsky, Leah ~ The Waiting Room, 2016, fiction (Israel), 8/10
  35. Kanter, Trudi ~ Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: A True Love Story Rediscovered, 2012 (originally 1984), memoir, 9/10
  36. Keene, Carolyn ~ The Scarlet Macaw Scandal (Nancy Drew #8), 2004, YA fiction (Costa Rica), 5/10
  37. Lascelles, Christopher ~ A Short History of the World, 2011, history, 8/10
  38. Lenfestey, Karen ~ A Weekend Getaway, 2014, fiction (Indiana), 9/10
  39. Levy, Debbie, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley ~ I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, 2016, children's biography, 9/10
  40. Lippman, Laura ~ What the Dead Know, 2007, fiction (Maryland), 8/10
  41. MacLean, Julianne ~ The Color of Hope, 2013, fiction (California and Massachusetts), 8/10
  42. Mahood, Kenneth ~ Why Are There More Questions Than Answers, Grandad?, 1974, children's, 10/10
  43. McCabe, Erin Lindsay ~ I Shall Be Near to You, 2014, fiction, 10/10
  44. Meltzer, Brad ~ The Tenth Justice, 2011, fiction (Washington, DC), 8/10
  45. Mitchell, Stephen ~ Tao Te Ching: A New English Version, 1988, religion, 9/10
  46. Nagara, Innosanto ~ A is for Activist, 2013, children's, 9/10
  47. Nović, Sara ~ Girl at War, 2015, fiction (Croatia), 8/10
  48. Omotoso, Yewande ~ The Woman Next Door, 2016, fiction (South Africa), 5/10
  49. Palacio, R. J. ~ Wonder, 2014, children's fiction, 10/10
  50. Palmer, Martin ~ The Jesus Sutras: Rediscovering the Lost Scrolls of Taoist Christianity, 2001, religion, 8/10
  51. Perks, Heidi ~ Beneath the Surface, 2016, fiction (England), 10/10
  52. Phillips, Joanne ~ Keeping Sam, 2015, fiction (England), 8/10
  53. Picoult, Jodi, and Samantha van Leer ~ Off the Page, 2015, fiction (New Hampshire), 8/10
  54. Reardon, Bryan ~ Finding Jake, 2015, fiction (Delaware), 9/10
  55. Reutlinger, Mark ~ A Pain in the Tuchis (A Mrs. Kaplan Mystery), 2015, mystery, 9/10
  56. Richmond, Michelle ~ Golden State, 2014, fiction (California), 9/10
  57. Roderick, A. G. ~ Two Tyrants: The Myth of a Two Party Government and the Liberation of the American Voter, 2015, politics, 9/10
  58. Rowley, JB ~ Whisper My Secret: A Memoir, 2012, memoir (Australia), 8/10
  59. Russo, Richard ~ That Old Cape Magic, 2009, fiction (Massachusetts and Maine), 8/10
  60. Scottoline, Lisa ~ Daddy's Girl, 2007, fiction (Pennsylvania), 9/10
  61. Shapiro, B. A. ~ The Muralist, 2015, fiction (the United States and France), 9/10
  62. Sharfeddin, Heather ~ Windless Summer, 2009, fiction (Washington), 8/10
  63. Smirnoff, Yakov ~ America on Six Rubles a Day, 1987, humor, 6/10
  64. Smith, Timothy P. ~ The Chamberlain Key: Unlocking the God Code to Reveal Divine Messages Hidden in the Bible, 2017, religion, 8/10
  65. Sotto, Samantha ~ Before Ever After, 2011, fiction, 5/10
  66. Shreve, Anita ~ The Stars Are Fire, 2017, fiction (Maine), 8/10
  67. Steele, Allen ~ The Jericho Iteration, 1994, 2013, fiction (Missouri), 10/10
  68. Stein, Garth ~ Enzo Races in the Rain!, 2014, children's, 8/10
  69. Sullivan, Faith ~ The Cape Ann, 1988, 2010, fiction (Minnesota), 8/10
  70. Tillman, Nancy ~ The Heaven of Animals, 2014, children's, 7/10
  71. Topix Media Lab ~ Coloring Cute Cats: Anti-Stress Therapy for Adults, 2017, picture book with quotes, 8/10
  72. Trafford, J. D. ~ Little Boy Lost, 2017, fiction (Missouri), 9.5/10
  73. Trenow, Liz ~ The Forgotten Seamstress, 2014, fiction (Britain), 10/10
  74. Tropper, Jonathan ~ One Last Thing Before I Go, 2012, fiction, 8/10
  75. Tyler, Anne ~ A Spool of Blue Thread, 2015, fiction (Maryland), 7/10
  76. Tyler, Anne ~ Vinegar Girl, 2016, fiction, 8/10
  77. Wallman, James ~ Stuffocation: Why We've Had Enough of Stuff and Need Experience More Than Ever, 2013, economics, 7/10
  78. Warren, Elizabeth ~ This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class, 2017, politics, 10/10
  79. Watson, Casey ~ The Boy No One Loved, 2011, memoir (England), 9/10
  80. Wiking, Meik ~ The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, 2017, psychology, 8/10
  81. Worick, Jennifer, ed. ~ Jokes Every Woman Should Know, 2013, nah
These books are also listed here in the order I completed them, and I shared quotes from most of them.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Beginning ~ with the news

News of the World ~ by Paulette Jiles, 2016, fiction (Texas)
Wichita Falls, Texas, Winter 1870

Captain Kidd laid out the Boston Morning Journal on the lectern and began to read from the article on the Fifteenth Amendment.  He had been born in 1798 and the third war of his lifetime had ended five years ago and he hoped never to see another but now the news of the world ages him more than time itself.
Summary of the book:
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd drifts through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world.  An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of the, the Captain once made his living as a printer, until the War Between the States took his press and everything with it.  Now, at seventy-one, he enjoys the freedom of the road, even if his body aches and money is scarce.  At a stop in Wichita Falls, Captain Kidd is offered a fifty-dollar gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives near San Antonio.  Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders viciously killed Johanna Leonberger's parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as their own.  Recently recovered by the U.S. Army, the ten-year-old with blue eyes and hair the color of maple sugar has once again been torn away from the only home and family she knows.

Would the first few lines of your book make you want to read on? If you would like to share the first lines of a book you are reading, click on the link and visit Gilion at Rose City Reader for today's Mister Linky.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin ~ and Lao Tzu

My favorite part of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching is Chapter 11.  I have several translations of the  book and would hand them out to students to read aloud in my "Religions of the World" class at Chattanooga State.  I wanted them to compare the different translators, but mostly I wanted them to think about this mind-expanding idea.  Probably my favorite translation is Ursula K. Le Guin's:
The uses of not

Thirty spokes
meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn't
is where it's useful.

Hollowed out,
clay makes a pot.
Where the pot's not
is where it's useful.

Cut doors and windows
to make a room.
Where the room isn't,
there's room for you.

So the profit in what is
is in the use of what isn't.
Le Guin added her comment:  "One of the things I love about Lao Tzu is he is so funny.  He's explaining a profound and difficult truth here, one of those counter-intuitive truths that, when the mind can accept them, suddenly double the size of the universe.  He goes about it with this deadpan simplicity, talking about pots."

When her book Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way was published in 1997, Ursula Le Guin had studied the Tao Te Ching for over 40 years. She 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 its poetic beauty.

Ursula Le Guin died on January 22, 2018.  To give you an idea of what she was like, I found The Night Ursula K. Le Guin Pranked the Patriarchy posted today by HuffPost.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Mindfulness ~ more friendship

Click to enlarge the image.
It's the fourth week of this year, so it's time to pull up another seven days from the Happiness Calendar.

Jan. 22 ~ Be kinder to yourself when you make mistakes.
Jan. 23 ~ Take a small step toward an important goal.
Jan. 24 ~ Try out something new to get out of your comfort zone.
Jan. 25 ~ Decide to lift someone up rather than put them down.
Jan. 26 ~ Say hello to a neighbor and get to know them better.
Jan. 27 ~ Today do something fun (ideally with others).
Jan. 28 ~ Put away your devices and focus fully on who you're with.

Last week I reported on calling an old friend because the suggestion had been "Get back in touch with an old friend you miss."  The following day, I repeated that suggestion and called my friend Nancy.  We talked for 2 hours and 45 minutes, catching up on life and family and changes.  Nancy and I went to seminary together, and I lived with her family for one of those semesters.  Sorry, no photo of her available right now.

Some of these suggestions make no sense for retirees, like this one:  "Take a different route today and see what you notice."  I don't usually go anywhere, except inside my building.  I could walk to the adjoining building by going outside, but all I'm likely to notice is that a January walk outside is colder than going the "regular" way through the halls directly.  Ah, well, I just repeated the "get in touch" suggestion and had a nice "reunion" of sorts.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Beginning ~ with the call to prayer

Crescent in the Sky ~ by Donald Moffitt, 1989, science fiction
The call to prayer sounded from his wrist monitor, and Abdul Hamid Jones reluctantly pressed the hold button on the haft of his micromanipulator remote and set it down carefully on the laboratory bench.  With a martyr's sigh, he consulted the glowing 3-D arrow that seemed to be floating somewhere within his wrist on the little holographic display.

In a future where Islam thrives throughout the galaxy, humble cloning technician Abdul Hamid-Jones is entangled in a plot to unite the greatly dispersed faithful under one Caliph.
For one thousand years, the Great Awakening has spread the teachings of Islam to all of the far corners of the known universe.  Without a Caliph at its head, the great Muslim empire had been a disparate conglomerate of power, for no one ruler had been able to bridge the great interplanatary distances to make the requisite pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.  Then the Emir of Mars announces his plans to undertake this most ambitious of journeys and win the prize of the Caliphate, and Mars is thrust into a frenzy of plots and intrigue.  Young scientist Abdul Hamid-Jones is not interested enough in politics to see how any of this could affect him, but he soon finds himself caught up in the web of court politics with his life at stake because of what he knows.

Would the first few lines of your book make you want to read on?  If you would like to share the first lines of a book you are reading, click on the link and visit Gilion at Rose City Reader for today's Mister Linky.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thursday thoughts ~ about LOVE

When I posted this on Facebook a couple of years ago, I wrote: "This parent is onto something." I still think so. For those who are not familiar with these verses from the Christian scriptures, the word being replaced by the boyfriend's name (or the girl's own name) is LOVE.
  • LOVE is patient.
  • LOVE is kind.
  • LOVE is not envious.
  • LOVE is not boastful.
  • LOVE is not arrogant.
  • LOVE is not rude.
  • LOVE does not insist on its own way;
  • LOVE is not irritable.
  • LOVE is not resentful;
  • LOVE does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
  • LOVE rejoices in the truth.
We could use this "evaluation" as a self-check, the way this mother suggested for her daughter. I'd be a better person if I could always be patient, kind, and truthful.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mindset ~ kindness

This morning, I read advice in the Ask Amy column about helping a child deal with stress before bedtime, but I like the suggestion for adults as well.  How would my mindset change if I pondered these questions at the end of every day?
  1. “What was your least favorite part of this day?” (negative)
  2. “What was your favorite part of the day?”  (positive)
  3. “How did you show kindness today?”  (very positive)
At the very least, I would be more focused on positive things at bedtime:  something I enjoyed about the day, plus some kind thing I did.  As Amy says, "These questions at the end of each day will help [me] to modulate [my] behavior during the day and put [my] own story into context at night."

The photo above, which I found online, is one I've seen several time.  It was originally with a story about a man who took off his shoes (they look like sandals) and gave them to a homeless young woman with no shoes.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Meditation ~ on synchronicity

While checking my blood pressure this morning, I noticed a small flat box of papers on the bookcase next to me and, after I had finished recording my BP score, sorted through the box.  I've been decluttering, but hadn't even noticed this little box.

Imagine my shock to discover a small envelope from Ada's mother to "Miss Bonnie Setliffe" in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was postmarked January 14, 1959, exactly 59 years to the day I wrote about Ada yesterday.  Inside was a typed note and an invitation to a kitchen shower for me ... given by Ada Rentfro and her mother.  I'm amazed to find this after not seeing it in over half a century, and I'm astounded it's such an exact date!

The outer envelope has a purple 4-cent stamp on it and was sent to me at this address:
Miss Bonnie Setliffe
1517-1/2 E. 26th Street
Chattanooga, Tennessee

I googled my old address and "went" there with the help of Google maps and "walked" around the block.  There's a building that looks like a warehouse in what was our grassy area of the projects, a bunch of World War Two barracks converted to make housing for the soldiers and sailors coming home from the war to find there was not enough housing for their families.  In other words, everybody's daddy in our neighborhood had been in the war.  (Back then, few women were in the military.  I wrote about one exception a few years ago, calling her an "independent dame," but I digress.)

The two invitations are TYPED, not xeroxed, without errors ... except one tiny one, where Ada or her mother typed an "e" over an "r" in the last "e" of "Please" Reply.  There was no DELETE key on manual typewriters, so messing up meant having to retype the whole thing.

Front of both invitations:
to a
Given by:  Miss Ada Rentfro
Mrs. Lucille Scollon
Please Reply:  MA2-8842
Inside, opposite side:
Bonnie's kitchen will be yellow and white,
If it is empty, won't that be a fright!

To feed her man she'll need just lots
Of kitchen gadgets and bowls, pans and pots;

For her Clyde dear she'll have to feed,
Let's give her all the things she'll need.

Seven-thirty to come, on Friday night,
January 23rd, will be just right -

To the Chattanooga Gas Company's Blue Flame Room,
Please come and help Bonnie's kitchen stock boom!
There was also a note enclosed:
This one is for your scrapbook,
I was afraid I might forget to give it to you later.
Lucille Scollon
The postmark, which is hard to read in the photo, says:
Chattanooga Tenn with a 3 on the left.  It was mailed on Jan 14 1959 at 3:30 PM.  The words that cancel the stamp say, "FIGHT INFANTILE PARALYSIS JOIN MARCH OF DIMES."
How do you like that MA2-8842 phone number?  If I remember correctly, examples of Chattanooga numbers were Madison and Tremont.  Maybe I'll suddenly remember my old phone number in a few days; that's how my elderly memory seems to work these days.

Monday Mindfulness ~ more happiness

Click calendar to enlarge it.
It's the third week of this year, so it's time to pull up another seven days from the Happiness Calendar.

Jan. 15 ~ Make something happen for a good cause.
Jan. 16 ~ Take a different route today and see what you notice.
Jan. 17 ~ Put a worry into perspective and try to let it go.
Jan. 18 ~ Get outside and notice five things that are beautiful.
Jan. 19 ~ Eat healthy food which really nourishes you today.
Jan. 20 ~ Have a friendly chat with a stranger.
Jan. 21 ~ Switch off all your tech two hours before bedtime.

Yesterday's happiness suggestion was "Get back in touch with an old friend you miss."  I called my friend Hamilton in Chattanooga, and we talked for almost two hours.  I emailed her links to this blog, to the website for the Crown Center where I live, and to my Facebook page, so now she and I are FB friends.  I took the photo above last spring out by our gazebo, but it's snowing out there tonight as I set this up to post in a couple of hours.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Stories ~ sisters

Although it wasn't a favorite novel, Five Fortunes by Beth Gutcheon did take me back to a memory from junior high school.
"Carter and Rae, arm in arm in their sweat clothes, were singing 'Sisters ... Sisters ... Never were there such devoted sisters...'  Apart from the fact that Carter was eight inches taller and thirty years younger than Rae, they were quite convincing" (p. 68).
I remember the lyrics a bit differently:  "There were never" instead of "Never were there."  So I googled and found here that my memory of the lyrics was correct.  I also discovered it was sung in the 1954 movie "White Christmas," helping me find a photo for this post and also date the story this passage evoked for me.

Ada Rentfro and I met on our first day of 7th grade at East Side Junior High School in Chattanooga.  I found that link showing the school many years before we arrived there in the fall of 1952, but Mr. Tallant was our principal, just as he was in the 1940s.  Ada and I met because we were in the same homeroom, which included both R and S, for Rentfro and Setliffe, our family names.  We also sat near each other in band and orchestra classes with Mr. Baker and Mrs. McClearen, respectively.

I don't remember WHY we did it, but I do remember borrowing an accordian and learning to play it, so Ada and I could go onstage in front of the whole school to sing "Sisters, Sisters."  Yes, once I was able to play and sing at the same time!  I think we were in 8th grade when we sang.  After graduating, we went on to Chattanooga High School, where we once again played in band and orchestra together.  Here's a high school photo of me holding my bassoon.

Now for the good part of this story.  I was tall, and Ada was short.  The top of her head was just about at my shoulder.  There was a comic strip called Mutt and Jeff, one tall, one diminutive, as you can see in this picture.  Our friends called us "Mutt and Jeff," especially after we stood on stage side by side to sing our song.

In Beth Gutcheon's novel (see quote above), one of the women was eight inches taller than the other.  And the two in the book were singing OUR song, the one Ada and I bravely belted out in junior high school.

Ada and I were the same age, with our birthdays only a month apart.  I remember the fun times when we sang, played in musicals, marched in the band during halftimes, and even beyond school.  She was in my wedding, we both worked at Sears for a time after high school, and we knew each other's children — her five and my three.  We'd meet for lunch to laugh and talk, even though we lived across town from each other, and stayed friends until the day she died in 1992, when we were only 52 years old.  I still miss you, Ada.

Monday morning update:  The next morning after posting this, I found a tangible connection to Ada and wrote about it.  Click here to read about the invitation to a kitchen shower from 1959.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Caturday ~ extra treats for kitties

  • Oct 29 is National Cat Day
A quick search tells us that
  • March 28 is Respect Your Cat Day
  • May 30 is International Hug Your Cat Day
  • June 15 is World Catnip Awareness Day
  • June 25 is Take Your Cat to Work Day
  • August 8 is World Cat Day
  • Sept 1 is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day
  • Oct 16 is Feral Cat Day
  • Oct 27 is National Black Cat Day.
I have a theory as to who is behind all of this. — by Sandra Boynton

Okay, Sandra Boynton may have done a quick search for all these dates, but I — Clawdia — am announcing it to the world on this special Caturday!  Yay, me!   (No, I don't care that it isn't October. I'm still a cat, aren't I?  And I'm black.  Why is this Caturday special?  Because I'm special, and I'm a cat.)

Clawdia, 'til next time  >^..^<

Friday, January 12, 2018

Beginning ~ with a decision

Do One Thing Different: And Other Uncommonly Sensible Solutions to Life's Persistent Problems ~ by Bill O'Hanlon, 1999, psychology
I came to the solution-oriented approach by a very personal route.  In 1971, I decided to kill myself.  Now, this may seem like a strange introduction for a book designed to inspire you, but that's where it all began for me.
These are not the first lines of the book, since they are near the bottom of the third page.  But this feels like where the book begins.  The author even calls these words "a strange introduction for a book."  At the beginning of the first chapter (on page one) is this epigraph.
Chapter 1
From Liabilities to Possibilities

Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living.  But
the (over)examined life makes you wish you were dead.
Given the alternative, I'd rather be living. — Saul Bellow
"Makes you wish you were dead" connects with what I think of as the beginning, where O'Hanlon says, "I decided to kill myself."  Yes, definitely a connection there.  And I definitely want to keep reading to find out how to "move quickly from stuck to smooth sailing in all aspects of [my] life."

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

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Replace cemeteries with forests

Five years ago, I wrote on this blog Recycle in Peace (notice the R.I.P.).
Once you might have been buried under a tree. Now you can BE the tree. How would you like to grow into a tree after you die? This is a Bios Urn, a completely biodegradable urn that contains a single tree seed. When planted, the tree seed is nourished by and absorbs the nutrients from the ashes. The urn itself is made from coconut shell and contains compacted peat and cellulose. The ashes are mixed with this, and the seed placed inside. Because ashes are a good source of phosphorus, cremated remains serve as good fertilization for trees. You can even choose which type of tree you'd like to grow! So which would you prefer — leaving behind a tree or a tombstone?
I still think it's a great idea and plan to be cremated so I can either be buried this way or have my ashes scattered for lots of living plants to grow.
What do you think?  Isn't this is a great idea?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday Words ~ just be you

On Monday, I shared a pig in a hammock (by Sandra Boynton) with the words:  "Just BE."  Today, I'm expanding on that idea, as you can see.  What do you want to be?  Right now, I mean.  Possible answers include some that are shown here, like:
  • be kind
  • be determined
  • be loving
  • be thoughtful
  • be generous
What does being yourself need more of right now?
  • be sassy
  • be persistent
  • be bold

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

TWOsday ~ exercise tips

My friend Donna on the treadmill recently
This seems like a good day for a new focus, using these tips for my exercise routine:
  1. "Embrace the unfamiliar" is #13 on an exercise list I discovered.
  2. "Learn something new" is the goal for the 11th day of happiness.
Joy's Book Blog

It's time for me to start using the treadmill in our fitness center.  My idea of walking has always been out in the neighborhood, but it's been bitter cold in St. Louis lately.  It has warmed up to above freezing, but that's still cold.  I guess I'll just need to get used to the idea of walking without going anywhere, with better health as my destination.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday Mindfulness ~ happiness report

Click to enlarge calendar
Second week of a new year, so it's time to pull up another seven days from the Happiness Calendar (see below).

Jan. 8 ~ Go to bed an hour earlier than normal.
Jan. 9 ~ Take ten minutes to sit still and just breathe.
Jan. 10 ~ Use one of your personal strengths in a new way.
Jan. 11 ~ Learn something new, and share it with others.
Jan. 12 ~ Ask other people about things they've enjoyed recently.
Jan. 13 ~ Thank three people you're grateful to, and tell them why.
Jan. 14 ~ Get back in touch with an old friend you miss.

I'm planning to "go to bed an hour earlier" tonight, mostly because it's been a busy few days and I'm tired.  I think I'll also find time, tomorrow, to "sit still and just breathe" as I think about happiness in the world and in my own life.
Happiness Report

At the end of last week (in other words, yesterday), Deb and Helen and I had a sort of conversation on our various blogs.
  • Deb left a message on Helen's blog thanking her for sharing the January 2018 Happiness Calendar.
  • I commented on Deb's blog, saying, "I love it!  You got the Happy New Year Calendar from Helen, and she got it from me.  So we'll be doing it together, in a sense."
  • Deb came over and commented on my blog post:  "I love it!  I got it from Helen, and Helen got it from you, and you got it from Jan .... happier and happier!"
Happiness is spreading.  Can you feel it?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Books, broken water pipes, and health

Five Fortunes ~ by Beth Gutcheon, 1998, fiction

A lively octogenarian, a private investigator, a mother and daughter with an unresolved past, and a recently widowed politician's wife share little else except a thirst for new dreams, but after a week at the luxurious health spa known as "Fat Chance" their lives will be intertwined in ways they couldn't have imagined.  Unexpected friendships emerge, reminding us of the close links between the rich and the poor, fortune and misfortune, and the magic of chance.
During the cold snap, a major pipe burst in our building, and we were without water for a day.  I keep water in my fridge, but other people were ready to use bottled water to brush their teeth.  I had plenty to drink and enough to wash my hands, and all of us could go over to the other building (connected on the ground floor), if necessary, where we have the Circle@Crown Café and other amenities.  I got out of the way for Tim, Ron, and the other maintenance men dashing from place to place.  Scott's shirt was wet, and he just shook his head and smiled at me as he hurried off after Tim.

When the problem was fixed, it still took time for the water pipes to fill on all ten floors.  The next morning, I had water from only the HOT faucet in the bathroom, both tub and sink — but the water was not warm, much less hot.  In the kitchen, water was coming from both sides, equally lukewarm. When the water situation was back to normal after a couple of days, I ran into Donna on the elevator and she said, "There's nothing better than a nice warm shower!"
Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne ~ by Wilda C. Gafney, 2017, theology

Alyssa, Betty, Donna, Evelyn, Sheila, Risé, and I are going through this book in small bites.  Wilda Gafney has shown me things in the Hebrew scriptures that I've never noticed before.  We're ready to look at Deuteronomy next Saturday, which will complete Part I about "Women of the Torah."  Then we'll start on Part II about "Women of the Throne."

Click here to see what I wrote earlier about this book.
My blood pressure is high, and my doctor upped the dose of blood pressure medicine I'm taking.  I think I'll go out later and buy a BP monitor so I can check it at home.
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wednesday Word ~ jowls

A woman commented on Facebook that her family always ate "black eyed peas, hog Joel, and greens" on New Year's Day.  "Joel"?  I'm pretty sure she meant JOWL, which is "the cheek of a pig used as meat."  This photo shows "sliced jowl bacon" from Wikipedia's article on pork jowl.

The other definition of jowl is "the lower part of a person's or animal's cheek, especially when it is fleshy or drooping."  This photo found online could be Joel's jowls, except Hitchcock's parents named him Alfred.

Cross-posted on my Joyful Noiseletter blog.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Exercise ~ yoga every day

Hosted by Joy's Book Blog

On Wednesday (last week means last year), I met with Risé to do floor exercises in Crown's fitness center.  We plan to continue getting together.  Yesterday (for the New Year), I added these five basic yoga poses to do daily in my apartment.  So far, so good  I managed one day!  Today's another day, and I'm determined to keep it up.

If I do it too late in the day (though NOT on a Sunday morning), I can imagine it ending like this:

Her first pose is Downward-Facing Dog (that's the way I've always heard it).  The second pose looks like a very stiff Cobra.  Then she does the plank, which takes a lot of strength in arms as well as core.  Hmm, what do we call her last pose? Best suggestion wins a laugh from me.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Mindfulness resolutions ~ or are these goals?

Click on the image to enlarge it, or find it here to print a copy.
My friend Jan posted this on Facebook, and I printed it out to use it myself and share with others.  We can take action for happiness for ourselves while improving our communities and the world around us.  Happiness is contagious, this site says, and I agree.  Here's the first week, in case you can't read it the small print on the chart:

Jan. 1 ~ Find three good things to look forward to this year.
Jan. 2 ~ Look for the good in others and notice their strengths.
Jan. 3 ~ Do three extra acts of kindness for other people.
Jan. 4 ~ Make time today to do something kind for yourself.
Jan. 5 ~ Say something positive to everyone you meet today.
Jan. 6 ~ Do an extra 15 minutes of physical activity (ideally outdoors).
Jan. 7 ~ Write down ten things you feel grateful for in life and why.

"Happiness is not something ready made.
It comes from your own actions." — Dalai Lama

To Be Where You Are ~ by Jan Karon

To Be Where You Are: A Mitford Novel ~ by Jan Karon, 2017, fiction (North Carolina), 8/10
This is the 14th book in the Mitford series, set in the very small fictional town of Mitford and centered around Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest who has retired since I met him in the first Mitford novel, published in 1994.  I always use the endpaper maps to figure out where we are in the story, but I'm still not sure which way we go from town to get to Meadowgate, home of Dooley and Lace, Father Tim's adopted son and his new bride.

What can I say about this book?  I saved a few quotes that mean something to me, and I see they are about four different residents of the town.
Character #1:  Esther Cunningham, former mayor (p. 94).
'If you were still mayorin', we might get those people to clean up th' trash in their parkin' lot!'  Though the old mayor was beyond her prime, Lois liked flattering her just the same.  Esther gave her a look.  'Now that th' Muse has pronounced me dead, I don't have to think about such as that'.
Character #2:  Henry 'Pooh' Barlowe Leeper, who is considering a call to ministry (p. 231).
'What is your hope,' said Paul, 'for any ministry you may undertake?'
'To help people love God so they can learn to love themselves and each other.'
'Is that it?'
'Yessir.  Essentially.'
Father Brad looked pleased, even paternal.
Character #3:  Lace, married to Dooley, the vet (p. 288).
How could people let go of their old things, when each told a part of their story?  Old things were a literature, a narrative.
Character #4:  Lew Boyd, owner of Lew Boyd Exxon (p. 320).
Until he married Earlene, he had no idea where Missouri was.  And then he learned that even the people who live there couldn't pronounce it  some sayin' Missourah an' some sayin' Missouree.
Why did these quotes stand out for me?  I thought the first was funny.  The second says a lot about my idea of ministry being compassion and caring.  The third reflects the thorn in my side:  the clutter I need to get rid of now, this year, this month, this week, this day.  (Yes, I plan to declutter more often, starting today.)

The fourth relates to my move to Missouri in 2014; since then, I've learned the difference between those who say Missourah and those who say Missouree.  I live in St. Louis, where the natives say Missouree.  Those who are originally from Kansas City and the western side of the statesay Missourah.  In case you wonder, I'm from Tennessee and have always called the state Missouree.  I guess that means I settled in the right part of Missouri.