Friday, June 28, 2019

Beginning ~ with why she wrote the book

Opening lines:
"It was soon after Maisie Dobbs — the first novel in the series featuring psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs — was published that I began to receive emails and letters from readers who were intrigued by the 'wisdom' within the pages, especially the continued advice offered to Maisie by her longtime mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche.  I confess, I had to read through the book again to find those passages readers especially loved."
What Would Maisie Do? : Inspiration from the Pages of Maisie Dobbs ~ by Jacqueline Winspear, 2019, illustrated journal
A one-of-a-kind illustrated companion to the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series, which invites readers into the beloved heroine’s world — and shares her wisdom and inspiration.  Through fourteen books (actually, it is now fifteen), the Maisie Dobbs series has had a resounding impact on fans.  Readers have shared with author Jacqueline Winspear how Maisie’s stories have resonated with them or helped them through difficult times.  Fans have been inspired by the heroine’s resilience and endurance, repurposing her strength in their own lives in a way perhaps best embodied by the phrase "What would Maisie do?"

Anchored by thirty of Maisie's most timeless quotes, coupled with Jacqueline Winspear’s inspiration for each nugget of wisdom, these reflections offer readers additional insight into the world of Maisie Dobbs and invite them to reflect on favorite moments and memories, with prompts for readers' own observations and inspiration.  Here are three:
On the value of respect:  "Liking a person we are required to have dealings with is not of paramount importance.  But respect is crucial, on both sides, as is tolerance and a depth of understanding of those influences that sculpt a character."

On grieving:  "Grief is a pilgrimage along a path that allows us to reflect upon the past from points of remembrance held in the soul.  At times the way is filled with stones underfoot and we feel pained by our memories, yet on other days the shadows reflect our longing and those happinesses shared."

On the importance of departure:  "Leaving that which you love breaks your heart open.  But you will find a jewel inside, and this precious jewel is the opening of your heart to all that is new and all that is different, and it will be the making of you — if you allow it to be."
Backstory on why I have this book:  A couple of weeks ago, I shared the opening lines of Maisie Dobbs (Beginning at the tube station), the first book in the series about Maisie.  There are now fifteen books in the series.  Yes, fifteen, not counting this journal with its illustrations of people and places like Lambeth, where Maisie was born, and Covent Garden, where her father would have brought his horse and cart each day "to stock up with fruit and vegetables to take on his rounds as a costermonger."

What's a "costermonger"? you ask.  Yeah, I had to look it up myself:
As in this old photo, a costermonger is "a person who sells goods, especially fruit and vegetables, from a handcart in the street."
Or the British version:
"...a hawker of fruit or vegetables."
My friend Donna finished the book and liked it so much she bought the whole series. Well, through book #13, so far.  I decided I needed to get THIS book, to explore some of the psychology in the novel(s).  First, I reserved it from the library, where I'd be the first reader of their copy, which was so new they were still processing it.  Instead, Donna and I ordered copies of the book, which arrived yesterday.  I look forward to reading it.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click this link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Library Loot

Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor, 2019, theology
Taylor recounts her moving discoveries of finding the sacred in unexpected places while teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates in rural Georgia, revealing how God delights in confounding our expectations.  She continues her spiritual journey begun in Leaving Church of finding out what the world looks like after taking off her clergy collar.  In Holy Envy, she contemplates the myriad ways other people and traditions encounter the Transcendent, both by digging deeper into those traditions herself and by seeing them through her students’ eyes as she sets off with them on field trips to monasteries, temples, and mosques.

Troubled and inspired by what she learns, she returns to her own tradition for guidance, finding new meaning in old teachings that have too often been used to exclude religious strangers instead of embracing the divine challenges they present.  Re-imagining some central stories from the religion she knows best, she takes heart in how often God chooses outsiders to teach insiders how out-of-bounds God really is.

Throughout this book, she weaves together stories from the classroom with reflections on how her own spiritual journey has been complicated and renewed by connecting with people of other traditions — even those whose truths are quite different from hers.  The one constant in her odyssey is the sense that God is the one calling her to disown her version of God — a change that ultimately enriches her faith in other human beings and in God.

I like noticing coincidences; it makes me smile.  When I looked for the link to her book Leaving Church above, I noticed I'd posted it exactly twelve years ago today.  June 27 was a Wednesday in 2007, and now I'm reading another of her books.  Actually, I've read several of her books and went to Atlanta to hear her speak in 2013.  If you click on the label below for Barbara Brown Taylor, you can take a look at ten or twelve times I've written about her before on this blog.  Or at least the times I remembered to include that label.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

America's dictator

It Can't Happen Here ~ by Sinclair Lewis, 1935, fiction
This cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.  Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press.  Called “a message to thinking Americans” by the Springfield Republican when published, it is shockingly prescient.
I found this 2017 comment by "John C" on Amazon:
It Did Happen Here, You Hear!

What’s wrong with me?  I majored in political science in college and grad school.  I studied for a PhD, worked in state and local government and taught “American Government” for decades at various colleges in the Baltimore-Washington area.  And, I did not read It Can't Happen Here [ICHH] until 2016.  Finally, in the storm of the 2016 election, I read this book.  Shame on me.

This is a classic fictional novel by American Sinclair Lewis.  Published during the rise of fascism [1935], it describes the rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a politician who defeats FDR to become US President.  Windrip foments fear and promises drastic reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values.   ["America First."]

Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, similar to Hitler’s SS.  The novel's plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup's opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it.  [The Press vs. President]

Some have emphasized a connection with Louisiana politician Huey Long, who was preparing to run for president in the 1936 election when he was assassinated in 1935 just prior to the novel's publication.  Over the years, ICHH has been compared to FDR’s internment camps, Nixon’s Watergate affair, and even the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.  Following the 2016 US presidential election, sales of ICHH surged significantly as it made various bestseller lists.  And now that #45 is 100+ days into his term, it still resonates loudly.

President Windrip outlaws dissent, puts political enemies in concentration camps, and trains and arms a paramilitary force called the Minute Men, who carry out his wishes.  One of his first acts is to eliminate the influence of the United States Congress.  In addition, his administration curtails women's and minority rights, and eliminates individual states by subdividing the country into administrative sectors.

Early in the story, Doremus states:  "Yes, I agree it’s a serious time.  With all the discontent there is in the country to wash him into office, Sen. Windrip has got an excellent chance to be elected President. … And, if he is, probably his gang of buzzards will get us into some war, just to grease their insane vanity and show the world we’re the huskiest nation going."  Is this 1935 or 2017 — fiction or fact; "alternative facts" or today’s headlines?

PLEASE read or re-read this classic.  You can decide for yourself whether it is prescient or relevant or just another political novel.  It will not be a waste of your time.
Another Amazon commenter said:
"It's scary how much this fits Trump's statements — from whining about fake news to discussing ending any news that isn't pro-Trump to claiming to represent forgotten people to consorting with very specific elements that could be violent in their support of him."
And I found this on Facebook:
I guess I must find a copy at the library or buy this book for my Kindle.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Beginning ~ at the tube station

"Even if she hadn't been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle."
Maisie Dobbs ~ by Jacqueline Winspear, 2003, mystery (England)
Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen.  Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, soon became her patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing.  Lady Rowan's friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education.

The outbreak of war changed everything.  Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front, where she found — and lost — an important part of herself.  Ten years after the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie sets out on her own as a private investigator, one who has learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive.  Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different.

In the aftermath of the Great War, a former officer has founded a working farm known as The Retreat, that acts as a convalescent refuge for ex-soldiers too shattered to resume normal life.  When Fate brings Maisie a second case involving The Retreat, she must finally confront the ghost that has haunted her for over a decade.
Nothing exciting about that opening sentence, but I'm reading this for a book club discussion.  I have now read the first four chapters.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click this link for more book beginnings.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Spinning Song

I memorized the "Spinning Song" by Albert Ellmenreich for a recital when I was a very young piano student.  Christopher Brent performs it in the video above.

I heard it for the first time in years in our Circle@Crown Café, when a young man from the community provided us with "Music in the Morning" as we ate.  I was so excited that I came up to my apartment and found the music free online, since I have no idea where my old John Thompson music book may be.  I think I'll go downstairs and practice it now.

If the video doesn't work, here's a link to the one by Christopher Brent (above).  And here's another version also on YouTube.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Books, butterflies, and the color orange

Marie took this photo of me beside a monarch at the Butterfly House today.  It happens to be orange like the orange-flowered shirt I'm wearing to emphasize Wear Orange this weekend (see more on that below).  It was purely accidental that Marie and I happened to go there on World Swallowtail Day, June 9th.  After a couple of hours watching butterflies flutter by, we went to eat at the Boathouse in Forest Park.

On Friday, which was National Wear Orange Day, I invited Donna and our friends Bonnie M. and Juleta to have lunch with me in the Circle@Crown Cafe.  I used this photo to tell people that wearing orange this weekend is all about encouraging our lawmakers to "pass sensible gun laws to prevent senseless murder."  Click to enlarge the photo to see those words on the smaller sign.

The Island of Sea Women ~ by Lisa See, 2019, fiction (Korea), 4/10
"When we go to the sea, we share the work and the danger," Mother added.  "We harvest together, sort together, and sell together, because the sea itself is communal" (p. 18).
The Man in the Ceiling ~ by Jules Feiffer, 1993, fiction, 5/10
"Jimmy had a good memory, but not for that sort of stuff. ... the answers he had to memorize for school had nothing to do with the questions he was interested in.  They had to do with what Mrs. Minnafy and Ms. Hazeltene were interested in" (p. 102).
Sorry, but I can't really recommend either of these books.  'Nuff said.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.  Other Sunday Salon musings are linked at the bottom of this Readerbuzz post.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Friday, June 7, 2019

Looking toward Tennessee

On June 3rd, I saw this photo Mike Feely posted on Facebook, taken from in front of the post office in Rossville, Georgia.  I grew up two miles away, on Fifth Avenue in East Lake.  The street going off to the left is Rossville Blvd, heading toward Chattanooga, which is only a block or two away.  My son-in-law Pat used to be bank manager at a branch bank on the Tennessee side of the state line, among those buildings visible in the middle of Mike's picture.

Two days later, I got mail from Mike.  Guess where it was posted from?  How funny is that?  Thanks, Mike.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Word Wednesday ~ bathing suites

"I’m loving their new bathing suites."
Um, nope.  Those are bathing suits, not suites.  It looks like her finger typed an extra letter, there.
suit = a set of clothes; something a person wears
suite = a set of rooms, like maybe a master suite
A bathing suit is a garment worn for swimming.  In other words, it's a swimsuit.  These boys are wearing swimsuits.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Hello, June

I found this month's calendar (below) by searching for "calendar" on the Action for Happiness (AfH) web site.  Here are suggestions for the first seven days of this brand new month.  Will you try to do some of them?

June 1
~ Decide to look for what's good every day this month.
June 2
~ Do three things to bring joy to other people today.
June 3
~ Re-frame a worry, and try to find a positive way to respond.
June 4
~ Thank someone for the joy they have brought into your life.
June 5
~ Do something today which you know will make you feel good.
June 6
~ Ask someone what brings them joy and listen to their answer.
June 7
~ Make a plan with friends to do something fun together.

"Every day may not be good,
but there is something good in every day."
~ by Alice Morse Earle

Click on calendar to enlarge it.