Friday, July 27, 2018

Beginning ~ with a dog waiting

Hello Love ~ by Karen McQuestion, 2014, fiction
The little dog waited, ears rising expectantly with the passing of every car, her eyes never leaving the door.  Dan stood and watched her for a second before whistling to break the spell, but she still didn't move.  "Come over here, girl," he urged. "No point in waiting."
A year after the death of his wife, Christine, Dan is barely holding on.  But one thing gets him through the long, lonely nights and that is his cherished dog, Anni.  When she is stolen from his front yard, Dan and his daughter, Lindsay, are devastated.  Meanwhile in another part of town, Andrea Keller is recovering from the heartbreak of a messy divorce.  After she rescues a defenseless dog from an abusive tenant, her life changes in ways she never could have anticipated.  Dan and Andrea cross paths again and again, only to keep missing each other and the opportunity of a lifetime.  As Anni works to find her way home, can she bring together these two lost souls desperately in need of a second chance at happiness?

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Thursday Thirteen ~ memories are made of this

Click on the illustration to enlarge it for easier reading.
1.  As we sat around the (Kosher) table after dinner last week, the discussion turned to Birthright Israel.  The teenage grandson of one friend at the table is in Israel right now, though not with this program.  It was the first I'd heard of it.

2.  How interesting that, the very next day, I happened across an article about it:
"Birthright Israel, known in Hebrew as Taglit, is a program that sends Jewish young adults on free ten-day trips to Israel."
A few days later, I happened across another article about the Taglit program.  I'm still processing this article.

3.  A friend's email on Sunday randomly asked, "Have you found any opportunities to use your Hebrew that you learned years ago?"  Since the Jewish community provides the Crown Center residences and programs for the elderly, our meals are Kosher (see #1 above), if we choose to eat downstairs rather than in our own apartments.  Before our evening meal on Friday, we have Sabbath prayers over lighting the candles, drinking wine, and eating challah bread.  When the prayers (shown in the illustration above) are recited in both Hebrew and English, I am able to say the words along with those chosen to lead the prayers.  This is a unique place to live, and I'm loving it!

4.  My friend Debra posted something on her blog that linked to one of her earlier posts, and there I found a "conversation in the comments" that Debra and I had had three years ago about cedar flutes.

5.  I haven't played mine lately (it looks a lot like this one), so I got out of my chair and picked up my flute.

6.  Debra mentioned something she'd read on MY blog earlier, so I went looking for it.  What I found was ― surprise! ― another link to the Friday prayers in Hebrew!  Memories and connections are so interesting.

7.  Also on my earlier blog post was a photo of the Mid-County Branch of the library.  This building in the photo has been torn down, and a new one is being built in its place.  Donna and I occasionally drive by on our way home from shopping or eating out, just to monitor how far along construction has come.

8.  We don't all have the same 24 hours, and Jan Edmiston explains why.

9.  Books white people need to read ― there are 100 on the list.

10.  I googled "how to block calls on an LG flip phone" (yes, I have a flip phone like this).  Several answers came up, but none of the options worked on my phone.  Nowhere can I find "Security," much less how to restrict calls.  My 3-year-old phone must be too old for this newfangled stuff about blocking.

11.  Have you blocked spam calls on your own phone?  Was it hard to do?  Tell me what kind of cellphone you have, since I may have to buy a new one to block these stupid robo-calls.

12.  Would an additional $85 a month expense affect your ability to pay other bills?  It matters to lots of people, like the elderly on Social Security and "families in unbreakable patterns of hardship."  Read more in this article:  Crony Capitalism is Making Us Sick by Erin Wathen, the Irreverin I quoted last week.

13.  Hearing loss and how you can help.  Sometimes I have trouble with certain words spoken by certain people, so I can understand this list:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Two cat toys ~ on TWOsday

Clawdia is loved ― and not just on Gotcha Day.  Her friend Tiny gave her a flying bird like this, along with five cans of Fancy Feast cat food:  salmon (Clawdia's favorite), chicken, whitefish and tuna, chicken in gravy, and tuna in gravy.

Barbara got her a laser light that's shaped like a mouse.  Clawdia chases it, pounces on it, and has learned to "hold it down" even though she can't feel it beneath her paws.  Keeping the strange mouse in place, Clawdia looks around in confusion, meowing as though she's asking, "Why can't I feel it?"

Last night, Tiny knocked on our door with two bowls of vanilla ice cream in her hands.  That's vanilla covered with chocolate syrup.  And she didn't know it was Vanilla Ice Cream Day.  How funny is that!

By the way, Clawdia is still wearing her little red collar.  She slept overnight in it and seems so relaxed about the whole thing that I've decided she must have worn a collar before I met her when she was approximately six years old.  I wonder if her previous collar had a bell on it.  This one does not, since she (being declawed) will never be an outdoor cat.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Clawdia's Gotcha Day is also Vanilla Ice Cream Day

Clawdia moved in with me three years ago.  I gave her a gotcha gift a month early this year, this catnip-double-ball-chase toy.  She played with it a bit on the first day, sniffing the catnip, and has totally ignored it ever since. Today, I slipped a thin red collar around her neck ― snap!  Unlike the dreadful red harness (see evidence above), she has basically ignored the tiny collar.  No problem whatsoever.  Who knows why?  I also have a red leash to go with it, but I think I'll wait a day or two before trying to attach it to the collar.  Maybe it will free her to go visit Donna and her other friends without having to ride in the blue carrier.  She is currently sound asleep, still wearing her new collar.  I also wrote about Gotcha Day last year and the year before.

Sandra Boynton says, "July 23 is Vanilla Ice Cream Day.  Have a sweet and uncomplicated Monday."  Should I run out and get some vanilla ice cream?  I have Black Walnut ice cream in the freezer, which is vanilla with nuts added.  Does that count?

Tiny brought vanilla ice cream!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ new ideas

More Sunday Salon posts are on Facebook
Sophisticated Dorkiness wrote a post today using these categories:  Around Here, Reading, Watching, Listening, Loving, Hating, Reflecting, Recommending, Anticipating.   I don't "watch" or "listen" to books, but I can use the other ways of sorting.

The Lightkeeper's Daughters ~ by Jean E. Pendziwol, 2017, fiction (Canada)

Morgan, a delinquent teen performing community service, helps elderly Elizabeth sort through her late father's journals, which were found in the ruins of an old shipwreck.  I got this book a month ago, but have been too busy reading other books.  Now I have only two renewals left and better start reading.
The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth ~ by Michio Kaku, 2018, science

Physicist Michio Kaku explores our need to leave planet Earth to survive as a species by developing a sustainable civilization in outer space.  This book is nonfiction, so I'll probably read it at the same time as the fiction above.  It, too, arrived a month ago and has gone unread.  Maybe I'll get to it this week.
Although I moved to St. Louis four years ago, my Sunday School class in Chattanooga still includes me in their group email.  George emailed me yesterday, "I haven't heard from you in 'a month of Sundays.'   How are things in Saint Louis?  I trust you are doing well.  We are about to finish another book in our Sunday morning study class and could use any suggestions from you that you might share.   I have tried to copy you on my weekly notes to the group, so you know what we have been reading of late.  We have a list you shared with us a couple of years back, but have you read anything lately you would particularly recommend?"  Oh, yes, I highly recommend Bishop Spong's latest book:  Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today (2018).
Today's cooler weather.  It's been hot and humid for much too long, but today we have overcast gray clouds, and 77° feels like 77° at 1:30 pm.
I don't give space to "hated" books, mostly because I toss them aside and don't bother to finish them.  Why waste any more time on a book I don't like?  So am I hating anything else?  Yes, I feel oppressed by the boxes still unpacked after four years here and by the stacks of books and papers still in my apartment.  Resolved:  to throw away all of it ... uhm, most of it? ... a lot of it?  Let's start over.  I resolve to pitch a ton of it before the end of July.  A ton?  Well, you know what I mean.
On call blocking for robo-calls.  One number tried four times to reach me yesterday and already three times again today.  Reports say it's a debt collector, but I don't owe anyone anything.  (Edited to add:  Plus a fourth call from that number about 3:20 pm, when I was napping.)

I have now looked up how to block calls on my flip phone (yes, I choose to have a flip phone) and will work on doing it as soon as I post this.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday Thirteen ~ food and other stuff

1.  Donna (sitting at the right) and some of my other friends attended the "Bagels and Schmears" workshop on June 6th.

2.  Crown Center regularly has workshops in our culinary kitchen, which shares space with our library.

3.  Here's a look at some of the finished bagels the attendees got to sample.

4.  Speaking of food ... Celery May Help Bring Your High Blood Pressure Down.  This article also mentions the DASH diet.

5.  Donna says this is the best article she's read in years:  I Don't Know How to Explain to You That You Should Care About Other People.  I agree with Donna.  Here's a taste of the article:
"Personally, I’m happy to pay an extra 4.3 percent for my fast food burger if it means the person making it for me can afford to feed their own family.  If you aren’t willing to fork over an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac, you’re a fundamentally different person than I am.

"I’m perfectly content to pay taxes that go toward public schools, even though I’m childless and intend to stay that way, because all children deserve a quality, free education.  If this seems unfair or unreasonable to you, we are never going to see eye to eye."
6.  When I first started blogging in 2007, I joined the Something About Me Reading Challenge.

7.  Each of us chose five books that say "something about me."  Then we read and reviewed books chosen by the other bloggers.

8.  Here are the five books I chose to tell something about me:
* Evensong ~ by Gail Godwin, 1999, fiction
* On Tap ~ by J. Frances Alexander, fiction
* Booked to Die ~ by John Dunning, 1992, mystery
* Go Out in Joy! ~ by Nina Hermann Donnelley, 1977, memoir
* The Dance of the Dissident Daughter ~ by Sue Monk Kidd, 1996, memoir
9.  I listed these five books on this blog, too, when I posted that I'd joined my first ever reading challenge:  Something about me.

10.  I discovered a list of 50 Underrated American Towns, which I looked through because the first photo showed a bridge that reminds me of the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga, my hometown.  Click the link, and see that this is a bridge in New Jersey over the Delaware River.  I love the flowers.

11.  It's been over ten years since I met John Dominic Crossan, and I heard him speak again the following year.  I recommend his books on theology, if you are interested.

12.  Take a look at The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God by Steve McSwain, 2010.  This quote is from page 30:
I am sometimes asked, "If there are many ways to God, how do you understand Jesus' instruction to 'Go and make disciples' (Matt 28:19-20)?"  When Jesus said, "Go and train everyone . . . in this way of life" (Matt 28:19), he meant, as it is correctly paraphrased here in The Message, that we are to teach people his way of life, his way of thinking and living.  Jesus did not say, as most Christians have mistakenly thought, "Go and train everyone to believe in me," or worse, "Go and train others to believe as you believe."  Jesus said to spread around his "way of life."  The world around you will never change until the world within you does.  That's the message Christians know as the good news.

13.  Seems like there was something else I wanted to add.  Hmm, I lost my train of thought.  I think it has something to do with old age.

The only rule for Thursday Thirteen is to write about 13 things.  The New Thursday 13 is hosted by Country Dew and Colleen.  If you want to read lists by other people or play along yourself, here's the linky for this week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday Word ~ gibberish

Irreverin · July 17 at 9:20 PM ·
"Sure, this president speaks fluent gibberish.  It should make perfect sense that 'would' means 'wouldn't.'  And no means yes; up is down; blue is the new orange (because everything is orange).  ETC.  So he misspoke, what's the big deal?  Except, we all know that is not what happened.  Because his capacity to speak nonsense is surpassed only by his proclivity to lie, to cover his own assets, and to twist the narrative until nobody knows which way is up anymore.  He said what he said, and he meant it the first time.  His ability to distort truth and polarize the population is every bit as concerning as the Russia ties.  Which thing are we going to address first?"
Bonnie's comment:  I don't know Irreverin, but I think I like her!

Gibberish = unintelligible or meaningless speech or writing; nonsense.
Synonyms = nonsense, garbage, balderdash, blather, rubbish, drivel, gobbledygook, mumbo jumbo, tripe, hogwash, baloney, bilge, bull, bunk, guff, eyewash, piffle, twaddle, poppycock
Update:  I looked her up and now have a name for Irreverin.  She's the Rev. Erin Wathen, who serves as the Senior Pastor at Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Kansas City suburbs.  She's also the 2010 recipient of the Fred Craddock Award for Excellence in Preaching, and (having now discovered it) I think I'll have to get a copy of her 2018 book Resist and Persist: Faith and the Fight for Equality.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Teaser Tuesday ~ reluctant centenarian

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared ~ by Jonas Jonasson, 2012, fiction (Sweden)

First, the teaser
You might think he could have made up his mind earlier, and been man enough to inform his surroundings of his decision.  But Allan Karlsson had never been given to pondering things too long.

So the idea had barely taken hold in the old man's head before he opened the window of his room on the ground floor of the Old Folks' Home in the town of Malmköping, and stepped out ― into the flower bed.

This maneuver required a bit of effort, since Allan was 100 years old, on this very day in fact.  There was less than an hour to go before his birthday party would begin in the lounge of the Old Folks' Home.  The mayor would be there.  And the local paper.  And all the other old people.  And the entire staff, led by bad-tempered Director Alice.

It was only the Birthday Boy himself who didn't intend to turn up.
A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it's not too late to start over.  After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop.  The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100.  A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption).  So he decides to escape.  He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory:  Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them.  Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle.  This book is quirky and utterly unique.

If this video quits working, view it on YouTube.

What teased me about this book
That teaser up above is the book's beginning.  As a matter of fact, it's the whole first chapter.  It immediately brought to my mind the picture of a Confederate soldier named Inman, who stepped out of a hospital window and started walking back home to Ada, the woman he loved.  That was in Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier's 1997 book.  There was nothing humorous about Inman's walking away, no stepping into a flower bed outside the window, no discovering (two sentences into the next chapter) that he was wearing indoor slippers and had forgotten to bring his hat.  Would you have kept reading?  I was hooked and bought the book for my Kindle.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ one library book

Library Loot

It's been three weeks since I wrote about putting Amy Suskind's The List (2018) on reserve at the library, and now I have it.  I probably won't read the whole thing, which is over 400 pages long with an additional 100+ pages of Notes and Index.  Opening it at random, I read from Week 50 (item number 104 on page 370):
140.  Corker responded, telling CNN about his previous support of Trump that he "would not do that again," and said Trump has "great difficulty with the truth."
I can flip open the book to any page and read with terrible consistency about Trump's lying, hatred, bigotry, and corruption.  It's almost too much, almost overwhelming.  Maybe I should simply skim through parts of the book and read what Amy Suskind posts each week online.  This quote from Week 87, posted yesterday, is about the pregnant women being denied medical care while being held in ICE detention:
49.  The editorial board added, “This is the kind of behavior that, when carried out by non-superpowers, gets people hauled before the International Criminal Court or some special war crimes tribunal.”
Are you excited to learn that "ICE will be hiring more than 300 new agents and scores of staffers" (from item number 55)?

And then there's this telling photo at the end of the 169 items on the list this week.  It's so symbolic of how Trump is totally out of sync with other world leaders at the NATO summit.

On my Kindle

Reading now
In the Beginning: Science Faces God in the Book of Genesis ~ by Isaac Asimov, 1981, science and theology
Just finished
October the First Is Too Late ~ by Fred Hoyle, 1966, science fiction, 8/10

Youth ~ by Isaac Asimov, 1952, science fiction, 8/10
Up next
The Weight of Ink ~ by Rachel Kadish, 2017, historical fiction (set in 1660s London, winner of the National Jewish Book Award)
Just purchased today
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared ~ by Jonas Jonasson, 2012, fiction
What's this sign have to do with anything?  In Trump's America, refugees and immigrants are considered "illegal" and are being punished even when they are doing the very things our forefathers (and mothers) did by coming to this country ... unless our ancestors were in that first category.  If I "check all that apply," I'd tick off the bottom one or two.  My people arrived as immigrants from France, England, Scotland, and Ireland.  Those from Ireland could have been refugees from the 1845-1849 potato famine.  All I know is that my mother's ancestors came from those four countries.

More Sunday Salon posts on Facebook

Friday, July 13, 2018

Beginning ~ with your mother

"This story ends with loss," said your mother.  "I'm only on the first chapter, but I can tell."
Forever Is the Worst Long Time ~ by Camille Pagán, 2017, fiction
When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life.  But she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob.  So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.  As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach — he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship.  He just can’t move on.  After betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.  When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking — and miraculous — than either of them could have anticipated.  Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.
Those opening lines are puzzling.  The book's narrator starts with "your mother" rather than a name.  Who is this mother?  And who's speaking?  And why is someone telling "you" about "your mother"?  In other words, I'm intrigued.

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fursday ~ it's a thing, as of today

Okay!  I just heard about "Fursday" from another cat (her name's Fiona), so now I can claim at least two days a week:  Fursday and Caturday.  That's only fair, don't you think?  Let's see, what furry kind of fun can I come up with today?  I think I'll nap on it and get back to you.

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^..^<

Monday, July 9, 2018

Mindfulness ~ why'd I buy this book?

Can't Not Do: The Compelling Social Drive That Changes Our World ~ by Paul Shoemaker, 2015, sociology

What this book is about:
With so many social challenges facing our world, trying to effect change feels daunting.  The problems are complex, the politics murky, and the players innumerable.  Yet, every day there are regular heroes making a significant impact on our most intractable social issues.  “Can’t Not Do” is a catchphrase for the urge that captures the heart of effective social change agents — explaining, in their own words, their passion and drive:
  • “I can’t not do this.”
  • “It’s not that I can do this, it’s that I can’t not.”
  • “I could not imagine not doing something about this issue.”
The surprising truth from the trenches is that we already have numerous proven solutions for our many social challenges; what our world needs most, and what most changes our children’s future, are more people prepared and committed to act on their social impulses for the long haul.  Innovation helps.  Money helps, too.  But greater numbers of committed people help the most.

If you feel an internal, persistent call to do more for the world, this book will help you to bridge the gap between “wanting to do” and “doing.”  This book has seven seemingly simple questions that provide guideposts and unlock the reader’s potential to make a difference for a social cause they care about.  It isn’t a self-help book, but has authentic success stories, vital questions, and unconventional answers that can guide and inspire you to realize your greatest potential.
Why'd I buy this book?

Something's got to change.  I woke one morning to news that "Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem."  That afternoon, I read:   "White House refuses to urge Israel to use restraint as 52 Palestinians are killed."  Lately, we've been hearing about the children at the border who were taken away from their parents.  Every day, it seems, there's a new atrocity.  If "something's got to change," maybe I'm supposed to do it.  Or start doing it.  Or contribute in some way.  Maybe this book will give me some ideas about HOW to do that thing I can't not do.

What are some of the things I'm concerned about?
Plastic in the oceans
Lying, hate, bigotry, corruption
The environment

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Common sayings

"Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate" is a highfalutin (pompous or pretentious) way to say "Birds of a feather flock together."  The chart above came to me from Analytical Grammar on Facebook, along with these "answers" which use the "common" wording.
There's no use crying over spilled milk.
All that glitters is not gold.
Look before you leap.
Beauty is only skin-deep.
I used something like this when I taught communication skills at Chattanooga State, telling my students to translate the following into short, forceful English.
A trio of rodents with defective eyesight,
Observe how they perambulate.
They all pursued the agriculturist's spouse.
She dismantled their appendages with a carving utensil.
Have you ever witnessed such an exhibition in your existence,
as three rodents with defective eyesight?
Do you recognize the nursery rhyme?
Three blind mice.
(Three blind mice.)
See how they run.
(See how they run.)
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life
as three blind mice?
If you grew up in the United States, you probably recognized it and maybe even sang along as you automatically repeated the first two lines.  Unfortunately, I had two or three young nurses taking the class for continuing education who were from somewhere like Vietnam or Thailand.  They looked at the rest of us like we were crazy.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Jump Back July

Click the calendar to enlarge it.
We've had Happy January, Friendly February, Mindful March, Active April, Meaningful May, and Joyful June.  Now it's time for Jump Back July, found by searching for "calendar" on the Action for Happiness (AfH) web site.  Here are the first seven days of this new month.

July 1
~ Make a list of things that you're looking forward to.
July 2
~ Find an action you can take to overcome a problem or worry.
July 3
~ Adopt a growth mindset.  Change "I can't" into "I can't ... yet."
July 4
~ Be willing to ask for help when you need it today (and always).
July 5
~ Avoid saying "must" or "should" to yourself today.
July 6
~ Put a problem in perspective and see the bigger picture.
July 7
~ Shift your mood by doing something you really enjoy.

"Everything can be taken from a man
but one thing:  to choose one's attitude
in any given set of circumstances."
~ Viktor Frankl