Friday, August 31, 2018

Beginning ~ with a blizzard

The Orphan Daughter ~ by Cari Noga, 2018, fiction (Michigan)

Chapter 1 ~ Lucy (April 13, 2011)
"Phoebe and I walk around on woodchip trails, looking at wildflowers and listening for birds, so we can fill out the flora and fauna columns on our worksheets."
Chapter 2 ~ Jane (April 15, 2011)
"Shifting back onto my heels, I admire the row of new green shoots I've uncovered."
The book actually begins in the Prologue, with a look at Jane 20 years earlier (January 1991):
"Kodiak had hunkered under a blizzard for the last two days."
Cari Noga
Confusing so far, right?  Here's the story:
At forty-five, Jane McArdle has experienced her share of life’s twists and turns.  Yet she’s shaken by the sudden death of her estranged half sister and the news that she’s now the guardian of her orphaned niece, Lucy.  Still nurturing unresolved grief from a marriage bookended by loss, as well as her guilt over her adult son’s imperfect upbringing, Jane is her own worst enemy, content to focus on her small Michigan farm.  Now, confronted with a traumatized eleven-year-old, the prickly empty nester is thrust into motherhood again, unsure she’ll do any better this time.

City girl Lucy is bewildered by aloof Aunt Jane and a new life in rural Michigan.  The debilitating phobia Lucy has developed since her parents’ deaths keeps her stuck in this place that’s nothing like home.  She secretly plots to run away to live with other relatives.  Jane and Lucy must decide if they’ll both endure yet another loss — each other — or if their paths will lead them to forge a new family together.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

National Procrastination Week

Oh, you can't read the small sign?  It says:  "I was going to make
a display for National Procrastination Week (March 1-7) but..."
(Yes, I do realize March 1-7 was more than six months ago.)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Toxic masculinity

Irreverin says the toxic message is "women are here for men's enjoyment."  In other words, she says, the real problem is patriarchy.
"Whether they realize it or not, American men have been shaped by this kind of misogyny.  Thankfully, some men also learned some other values that more strongly influence their relationships with and treatment of women.  But left unchecked, this all-too-common assumption of entitlement leaves men filled with rage when a woman asserts her autonomy.  It makes for a world full of men who can’t cope with rejection; men who shoot up high schools to 'teach those bitches a lesson,' who force themselves on female acquaintances, or who maybe just follow a woman to a deserted place and make her suffer for their own sick pleasure."
Read Irreverin's short article:  A Border Wall Won't Protect Against Toxic Masculinity.  So how did masculinity get so toxic?

Click to enlarge, so you can read it more easily.
Consider these gender stereotypes, shown in "pink and blue" (of course!), which is another stereotype.

From Facebook (slightly edited):
The way our culture treats boys sickens me.  I had an 11-year-old boy in my room to have blood drawn today.  He was crying.  Not bawling or throwing a fit, just a few nervous tears.  His guardian kept telling him to 'man up' and 'stop acting like a sissy.'  Then she threatened to record him crying to show it to all his friends, which made him cry more.  I told her we had a strict no recording/photo policy, and she got mad at me for 'ruining the joke.'

When this woman went to the bathroom, I told the kid it was okay to express his emotions however he needed to, that even grown men are scared of needles, that everyone is scared of something, and he was brave for doing it even though he was scared.

Stop. Telling. Boys. They. Aren't. Really. Boys. For expressing emotion.

You know why women and femmes have to fear violent men?  Because of this sh*t that represses boys and men.  Crying doesn't make you weak.  Fear doesn't make you weak.  But berating a child for showing those things make you a weak adult.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Inchworm on Debra's deck this morning

Debra posted on Facebook today:
"This morning on the deck, I noticed this little one inching around.  I am reminded to take my time and enjoy the journey.  Blessings on your day."
Thank you, Debra, for the reminder to take it a step at a time ... or an inch at a time.  Maybe I need to slow down and look at the little things.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Beginning ~ with three sisters

The Bloom Girls ~ by Emily Cavanagh, 2017, fiction (Maine)
Suzy ~ "When Suzy Bloom first heard about her father's death, she was making a cheese soufflé" (Chapter 1).
Cal ~ "Cal Bloom measured out some Infants' Tylenol and stuck the plastic syringe in Sadie's mouth" (Chapter 2).
Violet ~ "Violet opened her eyes to the light of another gray morning streaming through the windows of the living room" (Chapter 3).
The three Bloom girls are notified that their father has died unexpectedly.
When the news of their father’s death reaches them, sisters Cal, Violet, and Suzy Bloom have to set aside their own personal crises, and their differences, to gather in Maine.  Responsible Cal, the oldest and closest to their dad, is torn between taking care of her family and meeting the demands of a high-pressure law career.  Impulsive Violet, the estranged middle child, is regretting a messy breakup with a man she’s just now realizing she truly loves.  And Suzy, the sweet youngest daughter, is anguishing over a life-altering decision.  Arriving in their father’s small coastal town, the Bloom sisters can’t help but revisit the past, confronting the allegations against their father that shattered their family nearly twenty years earlier.  As they try to reconcile different versions of their childhood and search for common ground, they’re forced to look at their father’s life — and their own lives — with new eyes, or risk losing all they hold dear.
I've read half the book so far, and I'm still reading even though the early part of the book seemed to have a lot more "telling" than "showing."

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

Black Cat Appreciation Day

Here it is, 10:45 pm in St. Louis, and I only just now learned that today is Black Cat Appreciation Day.  Clawdia has definitely NOT been feeling appreciated today.  Although I left her with wet food in her dish and a bowl of dry food, she was "starved" when I got home from visiting with Donna at the hospital.  I promptly fed her the usual quarter of a can of Fancy Feast.  It was even salmon, her favorite.  She immediately snarfed it down, while I was putting it into her dish, and asked for more.  I gave her another quarter of the can, which she finished just as quickly, begging me to do it again.  I put down a THIRD quarter of the can, and she ate more than half of that!  No, people, I'm not starving this poor cat.  She actually has a pudgy little tummy, but she was really, really wanting more of her wet food this evening!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mind isn't confined to brain ― or even body

"It’s impossible to completely disentangle our subjective view of the world from our interactions."
Scott Shepard posted this link on Facebook, saying, "Fascinating blurb."  So I read the article.  I've been thinking about consciousness a lot lately, as I've read books by Michio Kaku and Robert Lanza, but my interest isn't new.  I read this book decades ago:

My paperback edition
Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind ~ by Richard Maurice Bucke, 1900
This is a scientific study of illuminated individuals.  Bucke provides three dozen very consistent examples of "cosmic consciousness."  Some of these are the usual suspects, and others are contemporary case-histories he collected.  These enlightened figures, Bucke says, are evolutionary jumps, the predecessor of a more advanced species.
My Kindle edition
I just pulled two copies of this book from the shelves across the room; I bought a hardback edition in the 1970s and the paperback in 1985.  (I know because I wrote "bj 12/21/85" on the first page" when I was in my second year of seminary.)  While searching online for an image of the cover, I discovered there are multiple covers and that the book is now available for Kindle.  Usually it's an oversight when I buy a second copy of a book, but it costs only $2.99 for Kindle, so I bought a third version of it.  The Kindle "cover" I just got is shown on the left.

My hardback has a quote from William James on the front cover.
"I believe that you have brought this kind of consciousness 'home' to the attention of students of human nature in a way so definite and unescapable that it will be impossible henceforward to overlook or ignore it.  You are a benefactor of us all."

Monday, August 6, 2018

Meditate on this

Sandra Boynton posted this drawing on Facebook recently, saying:  "Some literary scholars ponder whether this book, first published in the Orwellian year 1984, may be some sort of prophetic allegory."  The book she means is Blue Hat, Green Hat.  Here's what I found online about it:
Three earnest animals and one misguided turkey learn colors and clothes in this Sandra Boynton classic.  Serious silliness for all ages.  Artist Sandra Boynton is back and better than ever with completely redrawn versions of her multi-million selling board books.  These whimsical books feature nontraditional texts and her famous animal characters.
The pages use these same four colors, but the article of clothing changes from hats to shirts to pants to coats, etc.  The animals wear different colors on different pages.

My favorite character is the turkey.  If there's a "prophetic allegory" here, maybe it's how like the turkey we've become.  But let me ponder that a bit longer, meditating on the "oops" moments in my own life.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ three more books

Southernmost ~ by Silas House, 2018, fiction (Tennessee and Florida)
I learned about this book from Irreverin on 7-27-18 and put it on reserve right then.  In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men.  In doing so, he starts to see his life anew — and risks losing everything:  his wife, locked into her religious prejudices; his congregation, which shuns Asher after he delivers a passionate sermon in defense of tolerance; and his young son, Justin, caught in the middle of what turns into a bitter custody battle.  With no way out but ahead, Asher takes Justin and flees to Key West, where he hopes to find his brother, Luke, whom he’d turned against years ago after Luke came out.  And it is there, at the southernmost point of the country, that Asher and Justin discover a new way of thinking about the world, and a new way of understanding love.
Bounce ~ by Megan Shull, 2016, YA fiction
Seventh grader Frannie Hudson wonders what it would be like to trade in her family for a new one.  Her big brother ignores her. Her mean older sister can’t stand her.  And her parents have just announced they’re going on a last-minute vacation — without her.  When Frannie makes one desperate, crazy wish — BOOM! — she magically bounces into a whole new life, with a totally different family.  And.  It.  Is.  Amazing!  There’s only one catch:  waking up as someone else keeps happening.  Plunged into lives and adventures she’s only imagined — from being a pop star to meeting one super-cute boy — Frannie finds courage in the unforgettable friends and families she meets along the way.  But as her new life spins out of control, Frannie begins to worry if she’ll ever get back home.  Basically, this is a story about a girl who relives the same day over and over again — each time as someone new.
Journey by Starlight: A Time Traveler's Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything ~ by Ian Flitcroft, illustrated by Britt Spencer, 2013, science fiction
Albert Einstein said his first ideas about relativity came from looking in the mirror as a teenager and wondering what it would be like to travel on a beam of light.  This is the story of that journey.  We follow an imaginary recreation of Albert Einstein and his traveling companion through space and time as they travel on a beam of light from a star over 3,000 light years away to Earth.  Along the way, Einstein explains the science behind everything from the origins of the universe to the meaning of life, relativity, black holes, quantum mechanics (for beginners), climate change, evolution vs. intelligent design, and how the brain works, all delivered in fun, easy-to-understand, bite-sized chunks.  Based on the popular blog of the same name, Journey by Starlight has been given the graphic novel treatment, pairing the narrative with fantastic, whimsical artwork to assist in simplifying what can be difficult-to-understand ideas.
Take a look at the Journey by Starlight blog, and click on one of the 52 posts on the left sidebar.  Having just now discovered this blog, I'm ready to read those posts as well as this graphic novel.  So I added it to MY sidebar, under "Blogs I read."  It's way down at the bottom, since nothing new has been posted for ten years.

Today's books are all "library loot."
More Sunday Salon posts are on Facebook.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Beginning ~ with wet cement

The Color of Water in July ~ by Nora Carroll, 2012, fiction (Michigan)
"There must be a precise moment when wet cement turns dry, when it no longer accepts footprints or scratched-in declarations of love; an ordinary moment, unnoticed, just like any. But in that moment, the facts of a life can change."
Umm, nope.  That beginning didn't grab me.  I had to keep reading before I decided to get the book for my Kindle.  The next couple of paragraphs told me Jess is thirty-three and "had not yet learned the art of going back."  A bit more interesting, but I kept reading and found out Jess has (for some reason) avoided telling Russ (her significant other, I guess?) that her grandmother died a month ago, much less that she inherited her grandmother's house in Michigan.  Here's a summary of the story:
It’s been a long seventeen years since Jess last saw her grandmother or visited the family cottage set on an idyllic lake in Northern Michigan.  For all that time, she’s been haunted by loss — of her innocence and her ability to trust and, most of all, of a profound summer romance that might have been something more.  So when her grandmother leaves the house to her, Jess summons her courage and returns to a place full of memories — and secrets.  There, she stumbles upon old letters and photographs of a time not so much forgotten as buried.  As she begins to unravel the hidden histories of her mother and her grandmother, she makes a startling discovery about a tragic death that prompted her family’s slow undoing.  With every uneven and painful step into the past, Jess comes closer to a truth that could alter her own path — and open a door to a different future.

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

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What to say to little girls


Don’t call me pretty or say that I'm beautiful.
That's not what matters to girls who have spunk.

Tell me I'm smart or I show such compassion.
Say I have spirit or always seem savvy.

Tell me I'm witty or clever or funny,
and point out whenever I'm loving and kind.

Looks are not all that a girl should consider,
so tell me I've got what it takes to succeed.

― Bonnie Setliffe Jacobs, August 2, 2018

Fursday conqueror

Ha!  This cat can't slay the red dot, but me?  I actually caught the white mouse that lives in that thing Bonnie calls a laser light.  I did!  I have caught it many times.

I didn't "slay" it, though.  I didn't even actually FEEL it under my paws, but I caught it and it couldn't get away until I lifted my paws!  Yes, really!

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^..^<

Added by Bonnie, later:
The "mouse" looks a lot like this, only "white" in the dim hallway.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

These Wednesday words are pun-derful

When I changed the bulletin board beside the elevators on my floor in the wee hours this morning, I posted these "tearable puns."  By the end of this first day, people have torn off four of them:
(1)  A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two-tired.
(2)  Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.
(3)  When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
(4)  The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
"Tearable puns" is itself a terrible pun.  Click to enlarge the illustration so you can read the fine print.  Do any of these tickle your funny bone?  I kind of like "poultry in motion."

Library acquisitions ~ fiction, shelved by author

1.  Child, Lee ~ No Middle Name (2017)
Eleven previously published pieces and a brand-new novella, “Too Much Time,” in which Reacher’s sharp eye and quick deduction skills are on full-display.  In story after story, Reacher fans and lovers of action-packed fiction will witness “one of this century’s most original, tantalizing pop-fiction heroes” during different periods of his life:  a teenage Reacher in sweltering NYC, Reacher as an MP in Georgia, Reacher as a magnet for women, and, of course, Reacher the loner, on the road and righting wrongs.  No suitcase.  No destination.  No middle name.  No matter how far Reacher travels off the beaten path, trouble always finds him.  Feel bad for trouble.
2.  Grimes, Martha ~ Dakota (2008)
In this sequel to Biting the Moon, amnesiac drifter Andi Oliver invents her life step-by-step as she moves through a landscape that throws up one danger after another.  Andi moves between waitressing jobs throughout the country until a discovery at a livestock facility renders her a target of two men, including a hired gunman and a pursuer from her forgotten past demanding information of which Andi has no memory.
3.  Haynes, Natalie ~ The Furies. (2014)
After losing her fiancĂ© in a shocking tragedy, Alex Morris moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past.  Formerly an actress, Alex accepts a job teaching drama therapy at a school community referred to as “The Unit,” a last-chance learning community for teens expelled from other schools in the city.  Her students have troubled pasts and difficult personalities, and Alex is an inexperienced teacher, terrified of what she’s taken on and drowning in grief.  This is a psychologically complex, dark, and twisting novel about loss, obsession, and the deep tragedies that can connect us to each other even as they blind us to our fate.
4.  Lerner, George ~ The Ambassadors (2014)
This novel examines one family’s passage through war and exile as they come to understand each other and the history that shaped them.  Jacob Furman has always chosen the call of duty over his wife, Suzanna, and their son, Shalom.  When he is deployed to Rwanda (to help arm the Tutsis, who have suffered genocide and are struggling to survive), Susanna and Shalom are once again left to contemplate his absence.  An esteemed anthropology scholar orphaned in the Holocaust, Susanna buries herself in work, searching for the biological roots of human language. Meanwhile Shalom struggles in search of his identity and seeks purpose among a group of musicians.  After years apart, a fragile reunion sparks a sense of family they never had before, connecting the three of them in a web of emotion not just to one another, but to the political events that have defined our century.
5.  Parker, Robert B. ~ Night and Day (2009)
In this Jesse Stone novel, the women get nervous when the sun sets in Paradise.  A Peeping Tom, dubbed "The Night Hawk," is on the loose.  Initially, he's content to simply peer through windows, gut he becomes more reckless, entering homes, forcing his victims to strip at gunpoint, then photographing them at their most vulnerable.  According to the notes he sends Police Chief Jesse Stone, he's about to take his obsession one step further.
6.  Silva, Daniel ~ The English Girl (2013)
Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, is thrust into a game of shadows where nothing is what it seems and where the only thing more dangerous than his enemies might be the truth.  Madeline Hart is a rising star in Britain’s governing party:  beautiful, intelligent, driven by an impoverished childhood to succeed.  But she is also a woman with a dark secret:  she is the lover of Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster.  Somehow, her kidnappers have learned of the affair, and they intend to make the British leader pay dearly for his sins.  Fearful of a scandal that will destroy his career, Lancaster decides to handle the matter privately rather than involve the British police.  It is a risky gambit, not only for the prime minister but also for the operative who will conduct the search.

Altruistic August

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

August 1
~ Decide to be kind to others (and yourself) every day.
August 2
~ Leave a positive note for someone else to find.
August 3
~ Treat everyone you interact with as though they are a friend.
August 4
~ Ask someone how they are, and really listen to their reply.
August 5
~ Water some flowers or plants in a public park or outdoor space.
August 6
~ Contact a friend to let them know you're thinking of them.
August 7
~ Offer your seat, give away or hold the door open for others.

"No act of kindness,
no matter how small,
is ever wasted." ~ Aesop