Friday, November 30, 2018

Beginning ~ before takeoff

"The plane had yet to take off, but Osgood, the photographer, was already snoring softly.  He was in the center seat, wedged between John Thigpen and a woman in coffee-colored stockings and sensible shoes."
Ape House ~ by Sara Gruen, 2010, fiction
Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn't understand people, but apes she gets — especially the bonobos
  • Bonzi, the matriarch,
  • Sam, the oldest male,
  • Jelani, an adolescent male,
  • Makena, the pregnant one,
  • Lola, the infant, and
  • Mbongo, the other adult male,
who are capable of reason and communication through American Sign Language.  Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she's ever felt among humans — until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter writing a human interest feature.  But when an explosion rocks the lab, John's piece turns into the story of a lifetime — and Isabel must connect with her own kind to save her family of apes from a new form of human exploitation.
I've read almost a third of the book.  Yes, it's as interesting as I thought it would be.  I've learned that bonobos would rather make love rather than war, and that some people's idea of "helping" the bonobos is very cruel and destructive, indeed!

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thursday lunch at the Circle@Crown Café

It turned out the special for today was actually "Crab" Artichoke Quiche.  Notice the "crab" is in quotes; that's because crab is not kosher, and the Circle@Crown Café is kosher.  Someone around the two tables shoved together for our large group said pollock is used as fake crab.  By the time I ordered, the Café had run out of the special anyway.  They substituted spinach quiche with salad for me, and I was very happy with it.

Who joined us today for food and fun?  Melvin and Gail were meeting with another group, but they sat and talked with us until their group arrived.  Eating together were Donna, Sheila, Nancy, Susan, Sandy M., and me.  Joining us for shorter periods of visiting were Florence and Mary and Ezra.  At one point, we totally embarrassed Nancy by singing Happy Birthday to her!

Peace and hope ~ origami doves

This photo was on Facebook today with these words:
"Salisbury Cathedral, England, UK (photo by steffi_daydreamer)
Installation of around 2,500 origami doves to symbolise peace and hope."
This is very similar to my dream (that I posted sixteen days ago), but my monarch butterflies were not massed together with others.  I saw only a handful of butterflies fluttering above the center aisle from the high ceilings.  The rest of the Facebook post says:
"The impressive display of white birds has flown all around the world from Jerusalem to Berlin and the US, before arriving in Salisbury.  The paper origami birds by artist Michael Pendry have been suspended from the roof of Salisbury cathedral.  According to the creator of the piece named 'Les Colombes' their presence represents hope and positivity."

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

TWOsday ~ in the Circle@Crown Café

Yesterday, Tonya posted this week's specials for the Circle@Crown Café:
Monday:  Veggie Burger on Pretzel Roll
Tuesday:  Pasta Fagioli with Cheese Garlic Bread
Wednesday:  Baked Salmon Wrap
Thursday:  Artichoke Quiche
Friday:  Battered Fish and Mac and Cheese
After checking my calendar and deciding what appealed to my taste buds, I posted a comment, saying, "Looks like Tuesday and Thursday for me."  Then I invited friends to join me, some on Facebook, some around the dinner table last night.  I have friends lined up to eat with me today and Thursday.  In the meantime, here's a painting by Susan Dorothea White of a bunch of other women enjoying a meal together.

Image Source:
UPDATE after lunch:
Donna, Sandy M., and Melvin were already in the Café when I arrived with Marie, having talked her into joining us for a few minutes.  Ezra sat and talked while waiting for his order to go, and Katie spoke to us while getting her drink.  Barbara arrived after most had finished eating, but we had a great chat anyway.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


As I promised yesterday, here's the word of the year for 2016, according to Oxford Dictionaries.  Do facts still matter?  I saw a cartoon showing two panels.  In the first, labeled Truth, was a drawing of René Descartes (1596-1650), who said,
TRUTH  =  "I think, therefore I am."
Actually, he said it in Latin:  "Cogito, ergo sum."  (Yes, I studied Latin back in high school.)  The second panel, labeled Post-Truth, showed a drawing of a man wearing a tee-shirt, who said,

POST-TRUTH  =  "I believe, therefore I'm right."
This does seem to me to be where we are today, or at least where many people seem to be.  Let's define "post-truth":

And here we are, alternative facts and all.  "Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."  And that's a fact, post-truth.

Update 11-28-18:
It took me two weeks to notice the wrong word in this bottom image (that I found online).  The word "donating" should be "denoting" in that sentence.  Post-truth denotes or indicates circumstances in which objective facts don't mean as much as appeals to emotion and belief.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dreaming ~ and reading

I dozed off with my computer on my lap and awoke with a smile on my face and the dream still lingering.  I was sitting in a narrow chapel, looking up at a butterfly over the center aisle to my right.  I had just realized the butterfly was not real, but hanging down from the high ceiling on a long string.  And then I saw another and another hanging there along the aisle, fluttering a little, as a tall dark-skinned priest robed in regal-red started quietly saying something like "vroom-vroom-vroom" and backed up the aisle toward the front of the chapel.  I was smiling because I'd just realized those butterflies were to be part of the service, somehow.  They were monarch butterflies, but I have no idea what any of this means.

What I'd been reading before getting on the computer couldn't have been more different.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century ~ by Yuval Noah Harari, 2018
How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human?  How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news?  Are nations and religions still relevant?  What should we teach our children?  This is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future.  As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.  He does this by untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in:
  • How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us?
  • What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it?
  • How should we deal with the threat of terrorism?
  • Why is liberal democracy in crisis?
He invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty.  When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power.
From the back cover of the book (and the table of contents), here are the 21 lessons:
  1. Disillusionment ~ The end of history has been postponed.
  2. Work ~ When you grow up, you might not have a job.
  3. Liberty ~ Big Data is watching you.
  4. Equality ~ Those who own the data own the future.
  5. Community ~ Humans have bodies.
  6. Civilization ~ There is just one civilization in the world.
  7. Nationalism ~ Global problems need global answers.
  8. Religion ~ God now serves the nation.
  9. Immigration ~ Some cultures might be better than others.
  10. Terrorism ~ Don't panic.
  11. War ~ Never underestimate human stupidity.
  12. Humility ~ You are not the center of the world.
  13. God ~ Don't take the name of God in vain.
  14. Secularism ~ Acknowledge your shadow.
  15. Ignorance ~ You know less than you think.
  16. Justice ~ Our sense of justice might be out of date.
  17. Post-Truth ~ Some fake news lasts forever.
  18. Science Fiction ~ The future is not what you see in the movies.
  19. Education ~ Change is the only constant.
  20. Meaning ~ Life is not a story.
  21. Meditation ~ Just observe.
Tune in tomorrow morning for the 2016 word of the year, thanks to Oxford Dictionaries.  Yes, the word is here in this blog post.  Yes, we live in what seems to me to be a very odd world.  Maybe I'm getting too old.

Update:  Word of the Year posted 11/14/2018.

Update:  11/29/18
This photo was on Facebook today with these words:
"Salisbury Cathedral, England, UK (photo by steffi_daydreamer)
Installation of around 2,500 origami doves to symbolise peace and hope."
This is very similar to my dream (above), but my monarch butterflies were not massed together with others.  I saw only a handful of butterflies fluttering above the center aisle from the high ceilings.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Beginning ~ with the clock striking thirteen

I just added George Orwell's classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (sometimes written 1984) to my Kindle the other day and was able to locate the sentence J. K. Rowling quoted yesterday to "bash White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Donald Trump’s administration."  It's from chapter 3.
"And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed ― if all records told the same tale ― then the lie passed into history and became truth" (loc. 458).
That sentence was immediately followed by this one, that I remember from reading the book decades ago.
"Who controls the past," ran the Party slogan, "controls the future:  who controls the present controls the past" (loc. 458).
I also looked up this quotation in my new Kindle copy and found it in Chapter 7 (loc. 1098).  This novel was "the best-selling book of any genre" on Amazon in January 2017.  Our current administration has made the book seem like a prediction, rather than fiction.  How in the world did Orwell,  almost seventy years ago, describe today's situation so well?

Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to give the opening lines of the novel in this "Book Beginnings" post.  Here 'tis:
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
Click to enlarge poster
Surely everyone already knows that eye on the cover of the book represents its most famous saying, but just in case this is all new to you, here's the quote, which was used thrice:
"BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU" (loc. 12, 21, and 3988).
Yes, it's in three places, and all three have every word capitalized.  For what it's worth, 1984 was not supposed to be an instruction manual.

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A busy week

Melissa's last exercise class at the Crown Center before moving with her family to another town was last Wednesday.  I went straight from my gentle chair yoga class to this one, so I was really feeling it by the end, when the staff had a going-away party for her.  I don't think I can call it a retirement party, not for this mother of two pre-schoolers.


Clawdia wanting to go visit Donna, 2016
I took Clawdia with me back down to the Theater Room, where Donna and I had been watching election returns for about three hours.  She checked out the Theater Room, jumped into a front chair, stood as tall as possible with her paws on the back of the chair, and sniffed the room.  She'd already seen the "good" security guy standing by the door I'd closed, after asking if he was allergic to cats, so after jumping from that chair to the chair beside it, she considered jumping way over to the chair against the wall, decided against it, but had apparently found what she'd been looking for:
"Where's my carrier?????"
She jumped in the chair beside the one where I'd put the carrier, stood on the arm of the chair to smell her blue carrier (just to be sure, you know), jumped over and went into her very own carrier, perfectly telling me, "I wanna go HOME, please!  Now!"  That adventure was a little bit too much, even for Clawdia.

Last Tuesday, Donna and Sharon (who lives on my floor) and I went to Powell Hall to hear Lisa Genova in the Speaker Series.  I saw the Still Alice movie in 2015 (based on her 2007 book of the same title) and considered it the best movie I saw that year.

Saturday, I saw the movie Moonstruck, starring Cher, Nicholas Cage, and Olympia Dukakis.

I'm currently reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, 2018, fiction (New Jersey).  I finished reading A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult, 2018, fiction set in Mississippi and rated it 8/10.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Where is your happy place?

Today, Helen asks, "Where is your happy place?"  Hers is her front garden, where a "pink bougainvillea was showing through the only tree whose leaves change color."  I love trees and have had favorite trees wherever I've lived.  Click the link to read about oak trees, an elm, a plum tree, a pecan tree, a dogwood climbing tree, a Japanese cherry tree, maples, magnolias, an ornamental cherry tree, a hickory tree, and crepe myrtles.

The yellow tree above is new since I moved in here in 2014, but it's beautiful.  My kitchen window is on the sixth floor, just above the green tree (and the two windows) in the left column.  That means I can see this little tree when I glance out.

This beautiful tree is on the opposite (west) side of the building.  The photo is obviously from the spring.  I snapped this one near our gazebo in April 2017.  I guess what I'm saying is that my happy place is where I can enjoy green growing things.  Hmm, and at this point in my life, I think my happy place is living here at the Crown Center.

Now tell me, where is YOUR happy place?

I live alone ~ with Clawdia


This keyring tag was created because of countless stories of people who lived alone being involved in an emergency situation where they were unable to return home for an extended period of time to care for their pets, and their pets suffered as a result.  This happens more often then you'd think, and it's a problem we think we can solve.  Imagine this scenario:
If you were involved in a car accident and were non-responsive for a few days, how would first responders know you have pets at home that need to be fed and let out?  An ER nurse shared a story of an elderly woman who was involved in a car accident and was in a coma for six days.  The first thing she said when she woke up was, "I have cats at home."  She instructed this nurse to call a neighbor to get into her house and check on her cats.  Luckily the cats were okay, but that isn't always the case.
This goal of this bright yellow key ring tag is to direct first responders to your Emergency Contact Card in your purse or wallet.  That card will have the name and number of the person who should be contacted in case of emergency to care for your pets while you are unable to do so.  We never know when we'll find ourselves in an emergency situation, so we want to be prepared.  Get your tag here.

This looks like a great idea.  I think my friends here at the Crown Center for Senior Living would quickly think of Clawdia ... IF ... they know I'm missing.  But that isn't a sure thing, and it could be days before even my best friend might know I'm missing.  Even worse, she could be in a wreck with me, and no one would know.  So I think I'll have to get an Emergency Pet Keyring Tag.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Beginning ~ with a history of disfranchisement

"It was a mystery worthy of Raymond Chandler.  On November 8, 2016, African Americans did not show up.  It was like a day of absence."
One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy ~ by Carol Anderson, 2018
In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present.  With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history:  the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.

Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws.  In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures.  And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance:  the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.
I wish I'd been able to read this book sooner, but I will be able to vote on gerrymandering with awareness because I am already aware of the damage it does to our democracy.  Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University, where I got my MDiv degree.

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

Beginning ~ with a house in shambles

"The simplest thing would be to tear it down," the man said.  "The house is a shambles."
Unsheltered ~ by Barbara Kingsolver, 2018, fiction (New Jersey)
How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute?  Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart.  The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed.  Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter.  When the family’s one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own.

In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it?  A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege:  his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin.  His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound.  In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town’s powerful men.

This is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it.

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

New Things November

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

November 1
~ Make a list of new things you want to try out this month.
November 2
~ Broaden your perspective:  read a different paper, magazine, or site.
November 3
~ Meet a new person and find out something about them.
November 4
~ Enjoy new music today.  Play, sing, dance, or listen.
November 5
~ Choose a different route, and see what you notice on the way.
November 6
~ Make a meal using a recipe or ingredient you haven't tried before.
November 7
~ When you feel you can't do something, add the word "yet."

"As long as you live,
keep learning how to live." ~ Seneca

I have already jumped ahead to November 12, which says:
"Find a new way to help or support a cause you care about."
Today and for a number of days this week, I've been talking to everyone I possibly can about getting out to vote.  Yesterday, we received our sample ballot in the mail.   When some friends and acquaintances were talking about it, I got them together in a small room off the lobby so we could talk our way through the ballot ― all six long columns of it.  Yes, our precinct has an extremely long list this time:  federal (senator and representative), state (auditor, senator, representative, constitutional amendments, and propositions), county (executive, prosecuting attorney, assessor, county council, and charter amendments), and 25 different judges (yes or no).  I think we are a little clearer about our voting now, pro or con, and why.