Sunday, July 28, 2019

Vacation in Montana

This is the guest room at Hunters Pointe, where my friend Joan lives in Helena, Montana.  Notice the moose on the wall and the wild life on the bedspread and on the lamp shade.  I was there for eight days, getting to visit with Joan and her four children and most of her grandchildren.

Joan and I were having lunch and chatting in the Hunters Pointe dining room with some of her friends a couple of days ago, when I noticed the word "HOME" beyond Joan's head.  It's on the mantel under the monitor displaying pictures of events and nature and cute wild animals.  Since it's Joan's new home, it's very appropriate that I captured that moment.

I like this view of Helena from Joan's son's house.  Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the sleeping giant in the center of that mountain range.  His head (with pointed nose) is to the right, slightly to the left of the small forest fire.  The giant has a very large chest (in the middle of those mountains), but he doesn't seem to have any feet.

And yesterday, I flew from Helena to Salt Lake City (airport shown here) and home to St. Louis. I'll share more vacation photos in the next several days, since I took dozens of pictures, including some at Joan's birthday celebrations — plural — over more than one day.

Clawdia on Donna's sofa
Coming up next on this blog:  the Gates of the Mountains boat ride tour through 1000-foot limestone cliffs.  The Lewis and Clark expedition arrived here on July 19, 1805.  I arrived in the same month, 214 years later.  Meriwether Lewis thought “the rocks seem ready to tumble on us.”  At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like gentle giant gates as the expedition drew near.  So he called it "Gates of the Mountains."

Donna sent me this photo of Clawdia, who was getting tired of her long "visit" at Donna's apartment.  She was quite ready to come home when I went to get her.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Clawdia's Gotcha Day

Clawdia at the rescue center, looking very anxious and thin (6 pounds 1 ounce)
July 23, 2015 ~ posted on Facebook the day Clawdia moved in with me.
Miss Clawdia is settling in.  I stretched out on the bed, and she curled up with me for a good hour while we talked as she looked around and pushed her head against my hand.  After awhile, she rubbed her whole face against mine, since it was on her level on the pillow.  She was spooked when the air conditioner came on and would stare at the door whenever she heard noises from the hallway as people talked to each other and opened or closed doors.  She carefully jumped over from the bed to sit on the windowsill and look down at her new neighborhood, but mostly she snuggled beside me and struggled not to nap ... not yet, not yet, not yet!

At dusk, she sat in the living room window watching the light fade and looking down at ... something.  She seems very content, having eaten some of her food from her new blue dish.  Her litter box is in the corner of the bathroom (she watched me put it there), and her pet carrier is on the floor near the bed, wide open in case she would feel more secure there.  But I think she likes curling up next to me and will sleep on my bed tonight.  When she looked at me from the window ledge around dusk, I smiled at her.  That made her meow at me, and we carried on a conversation across the room.  It's been a momentous day, and now she's sleeping on the cushion of a chair pushed under the table, within sight of me on the computer.  I wonder if she'll follow me to bed tonight.
Clawdia six months later (February 2016), looking relaxed and healthier
When Clawdia reached 8 pounds, the vet said it's what she SHOULD weigh.  When I met her, the vet had estimated she was six years old, yet she weighed only 6 pounds — 75% of what she should have weighed.  Was she abused?  Starved?  I don't know.  But she doesn't look so scrawny and scared anymore.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ice cream ~ celebrate!

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.  That means this year's National Ice Cream Day will be Sunday, July 21st.  My friend Donna and I celebrated today, a wee bit early because I'll be in Montana on Sunday, celebrating with my friend Joan on her 80th birthday.  The blackberry cheesecake ice cream Donna dished out was delicious.  Thanks, Donna!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Beginning ~ in 1976

November 1976

"Grandfather, tell me about your mother."

He was silent as he smoothed my hair, and for a long moment, I thought he hadn't heard me.

"She was beautiful.  Her hair was dark, her eyes green, just like yours are."

"Do you miss her?"  Tears leaked out the sides of my eyes and made his shoulder wet beneath my cheek.  I missed my mother desperately.

"Not anymore," my grandfather soothed.

"Why?"  I was suddenly angry with him.  How could he betray her that way?  It was his duty to miss her.

"Because she is still with me."
What the Wind Knows ~ by Amy Harmon, 2019, fiction (Ireland), 8/10
Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland.  Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes.  There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.  The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken.  But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar.  Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.  As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him.  Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find.  But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?
Here are some more quotes to go with those I shared in the 2019 list of books read in July.

(p. 98)  " need to write things down, to preserve them, to give them eternal life, if only on a page."

(p. 140)  There must have been sadness in my face because the little boy patted my cheek with his grubby fingers, comforting me.
"Do you miss him?"
"Not any more," I said, and my voice quaked.
"Why?"  He was shocked the way I had been once, long ago.
"Because he is still with me," I whispered, repeating the words my grandfather had said to me as he'd rocked me in his arms.  And suddenly the world shifted and the light dawned, and I wondered if my grandfather had known who I was all along.

(p. 225)  "I had a teacher who told me fiction is the future.  Nonfiction is the past.  One can be shaped and created.  One cannot."

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I'm in the mood for musing today

Sandy has the most dense, lush flower-garden-in-a-container I've ever seen.  Look how healthy and vibrant these flowers are!  Going out the door beside the link desk (located between the two buildings of the Crown Center where we live), her raised container is the one at the sidewalk to the parking lot.  It's the most visible of the dozen or so along the grassy area.

And see how luxuriant the foliage of her flowers is.  Very pleasing to the eye.  Sandy, I'm impressed.  Thanks for making our home even more beautiful and inviting.

"What French things do you have in your home?" Deb asked at the end of her blog post about Paris in July, where she showed us photos from her house, like this Eiffel Tower lamp.  "Me, myself?" I thought, since I have French ancestors.  I tell folks I'm part Scottish, Irish, English, and French because that's the family story.  And I've found a Derrieux great-great-great-great-grandmother (maybe five or six "greats" there) in my family tree.  Maybe I'm not very French, exactly, but it's the first thing that came to mind.

Bookish thoughts

Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor, 2019, religion, 10/10
" is not what we believe that defines us, but what we do" (p. 93).

"Jewish identity hinges on how one lives, not what one thinks — another source of holy envy for me" (p. 94).

"Christians often need reminding that our beliefs are just things we say unless they lead to things we actually do" (p. 95).

"Is Christian faith primarily about being Christian or becoming truly human? (p. 103).

"Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me," Jesus says in John 12:44 (p. 119).

"The more I learned about the religions of the world, the more I became convinced that they were all pointing to the same sacred mystery beyond all human understanding, so why not stop granting priority to any religious language and become more proficient in them all?" (p. 189).

"Torah ... has far more commands to love the stranger than it does to love the neighbor" (p. 198).

"Jesus ... too seemed more interested in how people lived than what they believed" (p. 210).

"I asked God for religious certainty, and God gave me relationships instead" (p. 213).

"There is no such thing as religion. There are only religious people, who embody the scripts of their faiths as differently as dancers embody the steps of their dances" (p. 216).
I think I marked more passages in this book than I've ever done before.  Almost sixty post-its!  And it's a book I must return to the library.  I may have to get it for my Kindle; that way, I can do a search for the "best parts" whenever I want to remember.  Click on the title to see what I wrote about this book a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Night of Miracles ~ musing about old folks

Night of Miracles ~ by Elizabeth Berg, 2018, fiction (Missouri), 9/10
Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy.  Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials.  Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant.  Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son.  Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures.  In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community — just when they need it the most.
Arthur Truluv is present all through this book, even though he died and isn't physically present.  I read The Story of Arthur Truluv last year.  Others from that first book, Maddy and Lucille, play major roles in this story.  Arthur's old house is the setting.  When I finished the last page earlier today, all I wanted to do was ponder some passages from the book.  The first place I marked has Lucille thinking about Arthur.
My fur baby, Clawdia
"She hopes Arthur is with Nola, the wife he loved so dearly.  Lucille does believe people see one another again, and she believes that pets will be reunited with their owners, too, though this is mostly acquiescence to those who cannot for one minute stop yammering on about their little fur babies, as they call them.  Even if it turns out not to be true, what's the harm in believing it?  It can bring some comfort" (p. 178).
Living in a retirement center means we face the death of friends and acquaintances rather often, it seems.  When a character dies toward the end of this book, another character muses that she could...
"understand, in a way she never had before, that death was
a natural part of life, just like the seasons in nature.  And
everybody's job was to love life while you had it and never
to take anything for granted" (p. 239).
Yesterday, I complimented Betty on the capri pants she was wearing.  She looked down and said, "They used to be Pat Tracy's.  Do you remember Pat?"  I smiled and touched the handle of my cart as I responded, "Yes, this was Pat's, too."  Around here, we share with each other what we no longer want or need and, sometimes, we end up with something that once belonged to a friend who died.  This novel has something similar:
"Lucille's alarm clock, stationed now at Iris's bedside, glows in the relative darkness, but soon the moving hands will be clearly seen and there will be no need for artificial light" (p. 261).
I didn't know there would be so much about death in this novel when I checked it out of the little Crown Center library (where my cart was parked in that photo).  But the subject is on my mind since I recently ran across a blog post about my demise posted in February 2012.  Look at the date on this tombstone.

And how do I plan to spend the next couple of days?  Well, first I'm going to do a load of laundry when I get up from this chair.  While waiting in the laundry room, I'll start reading my next book.

Friday Five ~ a day late

RevGal Anne Fraley:  "As the (US) holiday weekend heats up, I’m thinking about ways to stay cool.  You?  Share your preferences in today’s Friday Five!"

1)  Ice cream:  cup or cone?
I'll take either one, but a big bowl of cold ice cream sounds better to me when I'm really hot.
2)  Water:  beach or pool?
Pool, but at 79 years old I'd prefer to soak in a bathtub instead.
3)  Beverage:  tea or lemonade?
Definitely tea ... ICED tea, with lots of ice.  Adding lemonade to my iced tea is okay, but why mess up a good thing?
4)  Relief:  air conditioning, or shade?
Shade, if I have to be outside, but I'll just stay here inside with my air conditioner on high, thank you very much.  It's 90°F in St. Louis and feels like 100°F right now, according to my weather app.
5)  Fun:  fill in the blank!
Reading a book.  I've just finished Elizabeth Berg's 2018 novel Night of Miracles.  Now I want to read (or finish) two nonfiction books (Barbara Brown Taylor's Holy Envy and Jacqueline Winspear's What Would Maisie Do? and the novel I just got from the library (Katherine Marsh's Nowhere Boy).  Maybe I'll soak in the tub (see #2 above) while reading and control the water temperature with my toes as needed.
Hmmm, I ate the last of my ice cream yesterday.  Now I guess I'll have to run out (in the heat!) and buy another carton.  Anne didn't ask which kind of ice cream I prefer.  I rarely eat chocolate (as illustrated above), though I'd eat it in a pinch.  The carton I finally finished off last night was "coyote tracks" (vanilla ice cream with thick fudge swirl and mini peanut butter cups), but my usual is just plain vanilla.  I add whatever I have around, like slices of banana or fresh blackberries or other fruits.  I just happened to have fresh bananas I bought yesterday.  Can you see my smile?

NOTE:  I went back to discover how many years I've been posting Friday Fives on this blog (off and on since 2011), and found I had also written about iced tea when Jan asked us to use the letters of our names on July 15, 2011 to express gratitude.  I used the "i" in Bonnie for Iced tea on a hot summer day.  How funny is that coincidence?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Beginning ~ on a moonless July night

"They had purposely waited for a cloudy, moonless July night.  It was less likely the smugglers had said, that the Greek Coast Guard would spot them."
Nowhere Boy ~ by Katherine Marsh, 2018, YA fiction (Belgium)
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him.  Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe.  Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.

Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C.  Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right.  But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow.  Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny.  Set against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis, this is a gripping, heartwarming story of resilience, friendship, and everyday heroes.
I learned about this novel on Helen's Book Blog, where she rated it 5 of 5 and wrote:   "Wow.  This is such a good book!"  I'm very much looking forward to this one, and I don't think I've read anything set in Belgium, at least not recently.

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Two ideas from this book

American Indian Genesis: The Story of Creation ~ by Percy Bullchild, 1998, anthropology, 9/10
"From the mud Creator Sun molded a form in his own shape, his own image. ... This mud figure came to life as Creator Sun blew into its nostrils" (p. 33).

"Kneeling down beside him, Creator Sun took out the Mudman's lowest, smaller left rib. ... The Ribwoman too was very weak after she was created from the Mudman's rib" (p. 35).
This indigenous history of the creation story from Percy Bullchild is surprisingly similar to what's in my Bible.  The first man (called "Mudman") was formed from mud, and "Ribwoman" came from a very specific "lowest, smaller left rib" of that first man.
"Be honest to life and to all life."  This one commandment covered everything:  Be honest.  We have all lost that one commandment by our Creator Sun that covered all of our wrongs.  Our Indian life had one of the truest form of religion before the coming of the Europeans" (p. 40).
I'm not sure what "be honest" means in this quote.  From my own study of the creation story in Genesis, I think taking care of all creation makes sense.  By that, I also mean caring for other humans, since people are part of creation just as rocks and trees and birds and animals are.  And that brings me to the idea of having compassion and empathy for one another.  Is that the same as being honest to all life?  Maybe.  What do you think?

Monday, July 1, 2019

Jump Back July 2019

Click on the calendar to enlarge it.
I found this month's calendar on the Action for Happiness web site.  Here's what they suggest we do during the first week of July.

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.

We can't control what happens to us,
but we can choose how we respond.