Friday, November 29, 2019

Beginning ~ with what it's like to be a woman

"Whenever a woman does anything — write a book, create a life, have a career — the labor is often manifold and doesn't come with a break from laundry, home-work, floor scrubbing, or cooking.  During the course of writing this book, my whole life changed.  I went from being married to being a single mom."

God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America is a memoir by Lyz Lenz.  In the wake of the 2016 election, Lyz Lenz watched as her country and her marriage were torn apart by the competing forces of faith and politics.  Click on the title to read what I wrote about the book when I got it three weeks ago.  I've finally gotten around to reading it, and I'm finding it interesting so far.

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

Black cat? or Black Friday shopping?

I'll take the cat.
(I'd also take that sunny weather from early September,
if I could.  It got up to only 43 degrees in St. Louis today.
Wow!  An extreme thunderclap at 9:20 pm while I'm typing this!
I have never, EVER heard one that loud.  Clawdia jumped and ran.
Just one, LOUD, but Clawdia is watching the window, just in case.)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thankfully Reading Weekend Bingo

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz is offering a Bingo game during this Thanksgiving weekend, because there's a reading challenge going on.  Deb says:
"Start any time.  Do as much or as little as you like.  Talk about it on your blog (or Twitter or wherever you like to talk books) as little or as much as you like.  When you are finished (with a square, a row, or all the squares) link up here and throw your name into the hat to win a $25 gift card from Book Depository.  The BINGO game Linky will be open from November 27th through the end of the day CST December 1, and it is open to anyone in the world who can receive books from Book Depository."
Someone asked, "Does a Kindle count as a computer?"  Deb replied, "Absolutely.  I hope you will join in!  Do as little or as much as you want.  Add your name to the Linky."  So if you are interested, click Deb's Linky and sign up to play Bingo with us.  I'm in, and some of my reading will be on my Kindle.

You may also sign up with Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves to read thankfully from now through Sunday evening.  I'm in.

Deb Nance = Thankfully Reading Weekend BINGO
Jenn's Bookshelves = Thankfully Reading Weekend

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Moonflower Vine ~ by Jetta Carleton

The Moonflower Vine ~ by Jetta Carleton, 1962, 1990, fiction, DNF
On a farm in western Missouri during the first half of the 20th century, Matthew and Callie Soames create a life for themselves and raise four headstrong daughters.  Jessica will break their hearts, Leonie will fall in love with the wrong man, Mary Jo will escape to New York, and wild child Mathy's fate will be the family's greatest tragedy.  Over the decades they will love, deceive, comfort, forgive — and, ultimately, they will come to cherish all the more fiercely the bonds of love that hold the family together.
Risé sent out reminders yesterday that the Fourth Wednesday Book Club will discuss this book today at 1:00 in the library.  I told someone I hadn't even started reading it.  Oops!  I discovered this morning I have a bookmark showing I've read 55 pages.  Now I vaguely remember SOME of what I read, maybe a month ago, but obviously it didn't grab me enough to forego other novels.  So I'll return it to Risé in a couple of hours, unread, or at least unfinished.  Risé's note also says:
"If you haven't started reading it yet, I suggest reading the section about Matthew, page 109."
The six sections of the book are The Family (pp. 7-44), Jessica (pp. 45-106), Matthew (pp. 107-174), Mathy (pp.175-234), Leonie (pp. 235-283), and Callie (pp. 285-318).  Here's a quote from the last page, so the character must be Callie, the mother:
"It would be a good day. ... she felt giddy with happiness.  Matthew was waiting for her.  The children were coming home.  And they would watch the moonflowers bloom.  Oh, if she never got to heaven, this was enough, this lovely earth with its sunlight and its mornings and something always to look forward to. ... She looked up at the clear sky.  'Thank you,' she said and went home to breakfast" (p. 318).

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Two of Clawdia's friends

Here's Clawdia with her friends Tomoko (on the left) and Sharon, who is petting her.  We neighbors often meet near the elevator on our floor of the Crown Center, brought together by my gregarious cat.

This cat gets around.  Last night, after visiting in the hall with Sharon, Clawdia wanted to visit Gail, who invited us into her apartment.  When we talked too long, she meowed to go home.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Music for a Saturday

This song was originally recorded by the Glenn Miller orchestra for the film "Sun Valley Serenade" in 1941.  If the video quits working, click here for YouTube.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Beginning ~ with something wrong on stage

"Katherine knew, before the first act was half over, that something was wrong with Manya."
The Small Rain ~ by Madeleine L'Engle, 1945, fiction
This novel is about the many difficulties in the life of talented pianist Katherine Forrester, a gifted but socially isolated adolescent studying to be a concert pianist at a strict boarding school, who falls in love with her piano teacher.

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Nonfiction November ~ a favorite book

This quote is from page 259.
This week, folks who are doing Nonfiction November are talking about what makes a book you've read (specifically, a nonfiction book) one of your favorites.  A book that immediately came to mind when I read what Helen posted on her blog was Atul Gawande's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (2014).  I read this book in February and rated it 10 of 10 because I couldn't put it down.  I've recommended it to several people since then, both online and in person.  I notice  that I saved several quotes from it in my list of books read in 2019 (scroll down to #14), but I've never shared them in a post here on my blog.  Now's a good time to do it.
"Research has shown that loss of bone density may be a better predictor of death from atherosclerotic disease than cholesterol levels" (p. 30).

"The three primary risk factors for falling are poor balance, taking more than four prescription medications, and muscle weakness" (p. 40).

"Three Plagues of nursing home existence:  boredom, loneliness, and helplessness" (p. 116).

"Four crucial questions.  At this moment in your life ... :
1. Do you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops?
2. Do you want aggressive treatments such as intubation and mechanical ventilation?
3. Do you want antibiotics?
4. Do you want tube or intravenous feeding if you can't eat on your own?" (p. 179).

"What were her biggest fears and concerns?  What goals were most important to her?  What trade-offs was she willing to make, and what ones was she not?" (p. 234).

"For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. ... And in stories, endings matter" (pp. 238, 239).

"People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, settle relationships, establish their legacies, make peace with God, and ensure that those who are left behind will be okay.  They want to end their stories on their own terms" (p. 249).

The vital questions:  "What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes?   What are your fears and what are your hopes?  What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make?  And what is the course of action that best serves this understanding?" (p. 259).
Why is it a favorite?  I live in a retirement center, so I see lots of elderly people daily.  One of my friends died in July, while I was in MontanaAnother died in October.  A friend who eats at my table in the dining room is in another hospital getting chemo, and a neighbor on my floor is in another hospital.  I'll be 80 in April, so end of life is on my mind, too. 

Yesterday, some of us took a survey about senior housing administered by Washington University students inquiring about what's offered, what's needed, whether we have those things here, and to what extent.  The Crown Center is for independent living, but HOW independent are we?  Do we need help dressing? taking medicine? cooking? bathing? shopping? cleaning our own apartments?

Being Mortal is a book for people ready and willing to face their own mortality, but I think it's equally important that physicians and medical people read it.  As a doctor speaking to other doctors, Gawande says they've been focused on the wrong thing:  keeping people alive, even if they are miserable and maybe tied into a wheelchair in the hallway of a nursing home.  He advocates asking people what THEY want out of what's left of their lives.  I agree wholeheartedly.

This single book is enough about nonfiction favorites for me today, but maybe I'll write about another book or two later.

If you click this link, you can read what others have written about nonfiction this week.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Two novels on TWOsday

Postcards From a Stranger by Imogen Clark?  Or The Memory Tree by Linda Gillard?  Which should I read next?  Last night, I finished reading A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean and wanted to read more fiction.  I decided either of these two novels I recently put on my Kindle looked promising.  But which?  Choices, choices.  Click on the titles to read about the two books.  I picked "Postcards" and started reading it, but if it doesn't grab me, I may put it aside for the other novel.  Have you read either one?

Monday, November 18, 2019

Why are we here?

     A mother and baby camel are talking one day when the baby camel asks, “Mom, why have I got these huge three-toed feet?”
     The mother replies, “Well, son, when we trek across the desert your toes will help you to stay on top of the soft sand.”
     “OK,” said the son.  A few minutes later the son asks, “Mom, why have I got these great long eyelashes?”
     “They are there to keep the sand out of your eyes on the trips through the desert.”
     “Thanks, Mom,” replies the son.
     After a short while, the son returns and asks, “Mom, why have I got these great big humps on my back?”
     The mother, now a little impatient with her son replies, “They are there to help us store water for our long treks across the desert, so we can go without drinking for long periods.”
     “That’s great Mom, so we have huge feet to stop us sinking, and long eyelashes to keep the sand from our eyes, and these humps to store water, but Mom...”
     “Yes, son?”
     “What the heck are we doing in the zoo?”

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Beginning ~ twice

Part One: GILLIAN ~ November 2011
"I should have seen it coming — felt the tremors before the big quake."
Part Two: VIVIAN ~ May 1939
"In the hours before Theodore Gibbons met the great love of his life, he was riding by train in a first-class carriage, on his way back to London while contemplating how best to propose to quite another woman altogether."

A Fire Sparkling ~ by Julianne MacLean, 2019, fiction
After a crushing betrayal by the man she loves, Gillian Gibbons flees to her family home for a much-needed escape, but when she finds an old photograph of her grandmother in the arms of a Nazi officer, Gillian’s life gets even more complicated.  Rattled by the discovery, Gillian attempts to unravel the truth behind the photos, setting her off on an epic journey through the past.

In 1939, England is on the brink of war as Vivian Hughes falls in love with a handsome British official, but when bombs begin to fall and Vivian’s happy life is destroyed in the blitz, she will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves.

As Gillian learns more about her grandmother’s past, the old photo begins to make more sense.  But for every question answered, a new one takes its place.  Faced with a truth that is not at all what she expected, Gillian attempts to shine a light not only on the mysteries of her family’s past, but also on her own future.
My thoughts:  I'm kind of tired of novels that jump back and forth from the past to the present, but I bought this for my Kindle anyway.  Why?  Because it looks interesting to me.

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

Mindy is a happy kitty

Mindy being petted today.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Do you consider these words obsolete?

I still use lots of these words.  To begin with, "shenanigans" is at the top of this blog!  And Clawdia, who's much younger than I am, used the word "caterwauling" a couple of years ago.  Bookfool regularly posts "Monday Malarkey" on her blog.  Nancy (the Bookfool) and I both wonder if this is a legit compilation of words, since we use so many of them ourselves.  It's originally from Vintage, Paint and More on Facebook, who wrote:
"This list of 'obsolete words' came up in my feed and I had to laugh.  Oh, so many of them come from my youth, and I still use a lot of them today.  How many of them have you used or still use?  Or are they words you've never heard?" [edited]
Some are words I've never seen, and at least one is not spelled correctly.  "Nucklehead" should be "knucklehead," which means "a stupid person" according to the online dictionary.  I've never heard "whosemegadget" or "skewwiff."  My nephew called his grandmother (my mother) "gallivanting granny" when she took him to visit relatives in another state.  Merriam-Webster spells "rigmarole" with another a:  "rigamarole," which is the way I say it.  The other spelling is also correct, apparently.  "Audacity" doesn't seem old at all, and I need "whatchamacallit" frequently, now that I'm getting old and forgetful.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Thinking outside the box

Hmm, you could say I moved from the pan (Tennessee) to the shirt (Missouri) five years ago.  Tell us a story about one of those highlighted states.  Do you live in any of them?  Yesterday's snow is still on the ground in St. Louis, part of the white shirt.  Is it white up there in the chef's hat state today?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Clawdia meets Mindy

I was turning on my laptop when Clawdia decided to sit beside me.  When my desktop picture appeared, Clawdia noticed it for the first time.  I hadn't realized the photo of Barbara Land's cat Mindy, now living in Vermont, was so close to life-sized.  Even though it's a bit dark, I'm glad I captured Clawdia's confusion about that cat who suddenly appeared in our apartment.  Actually, she appeared right in front of Clawdia's face.  How odd!  She studied the other cat's eyes for what seemed like a long time, but the cat never moved.  Not even her eyes moved, and Clawdia lost interest.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Beginning ~ with memory loss

"She has forgotten what
she saw long ago, what
she found.  Daily she walks
in the wood, a woman now,
who walked beneath our
boughs as a child.  Alone
then; alone now."

The Memory Tree ~ by Linda Gillard, 2019 (revised edition), fiction
Can the power of love overcome life’s darkest memories and deepest losses?  When her favorite beech tree is felled in a storm, Ann feels as if someone has died.  But when long-hidden seed packets are found inside the trunk, Ann realizes there are more memories than her own lurking within the ancient tree.

A century earlier, head gardener William Hatherwick and Hester Mordaunt, mistress of Beechgrave, share a love for the mighty estate — and an undeclared love for each other.  When war breaks out, William is sent to the battlefields of France, and as the conflict rages on, Hester grieves beneath the tree.  Can she and William ever find happiness once he’s witnessed the horror of the trenches?

In the present day, historian Connor Grenville wants to understand why his late grandmother tried to destroy Hester’s archive before she died.  Who was she trying to protect — and why?  His findings bring long-suppressed memories back to Ann’s mind.

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

Caturday ~ Mindy's progress in Vermont

 Is she getting brave?

Or just hungry and thirsty?

Friday, November 8, 2019

Library Loot ~ five more books

1.  Just Ask! : Be Different, Be Brave, Be You ~ by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael Lopez, 2019, children's picture book
Feeling different, especially as a child, can be tough.  But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.  Justice Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities children (and people of all ages) have.  Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges — and looks at the special powers they have as well.  As the children work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same.  When we come across someone who is different from us but we're not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.
2.  Color Matters: Skin Tone Bias and the Myth of a Post-Racial America ~ edited by Kimberly Jade Norwood, 2014, sociology
In the United States, as in many parts of the world, people are discriminated against based on the color of their skin.  This type of skin tone bias, or colorism, is related to and distinct from discrimination on the basis of race, with which it is often conflated.  Preferential treatment of lighter skin tones over darker occurs within racial and ethnic groups, as well as between them.  While America has made progress in issues of race over the past decades, discrimination on the basis of color continues to be a constant and often unremarked part of life.

Norwood has collected the most up-to-date research on this insidious form of discrimination, including perspectives from the disciplines of history, law, sociology, and psychology.  Anchored with historical chapters that show how the influence and legacy of slavery have shaped the treatment of skin color in American society, the contributors to this volume bring to light the ways in which colorism affects us all — influencing what we wear, who we see on television, and even which child we might pick to adopt.
3.  Ferguson's Fault Lines: The Racial Quake That Rocked a Nation ~ edited by Kimberly Jade Norwood, 2016,
In almost every highly publicized case of police using deadly force and killing unarmed individuals, the person killed was an African American male.  These incidents have caused dramatic erosion in public confidence in the justice system and America's promise of equal treatment under the law.  Minority communities lack confidence in our judicial system.  To begin with, we must recognize our own biases.  We all have them.  No one is exempt.  The biggest challenge, however, is to figure out what we do once we recognize them.  For those working in the justice system — from police to prosecutors, judges, and public defenders — the consequences have broad, far-reaching, and sometimes even fatal consequences.
4.  God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America ~ by Lyz Lenz, 2019, memoir
In the wake of the 2016 election, Lyz Lenz watched as her country and her marriage were torn apart by the competing forces of faith and politics.  A mother of two, a Christian, and a lifelong resident of middle America, Lenz was bewildered by the pain and loss around her — the empty churches and the broken hearts.  From drugstores in Sydney, Iowa, to skeet shooting in rural Illinois, to mega churches of Minneapolis, Lenz set out to discover the changing forces of faith and tradition in God's country.  She visits places of worship across the heartland and speaks to the everyday people who often struggle to keep their churches afloat and to cope in a land of instability.
5.  Michigan vs. the Boys ~ by Carrie Sue Allen, 2019, YA fiction
When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it's time to even the score.  Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine.  That is, until she gets some crushing news:  budget cuts will keep the girls' hockey team off the ice this year. 

If she wants colleges to notice her, she has to find a way to play.  Luckily, there's still one team left in town.  The boys' team isn't exactly welcoming, but she is prepared to prove herself.  Michigan plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk, and pranks that always seem to target her.  But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up — even if it means putting her future on the line.
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  To see what others are reading, click this link.

As I run across interesting titles, I put them on reserve at my library.  Sometimes all the requested books come in at the same time.  Like yesterday.  I have three not yet read from the last home delivery three weeks ago, and another five books arrived yesterday.  Can I read that many books before the next delivery?  Not likely, even though one, as you can see, is a children's book.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Tomoko's new jacket

Sharon and I were sitting in the chairs at the elevator on our floor last night when Tomoko got off the elevator.  She was wearing a beautiful turquoise blouse.  Sharon jumped up and, telling Tomoko to stay put for a minute, hurried to her apartment and brought back a jacket that matched perfectly.  When Tomoko tried it on, Sharon insisted she keep it because it fits her and looks so good with that blouse.  That's when I decided to take a picture.  Doesn't she look great?

WHY am I telling this story?  Because it's amazing how many people who live here at the Crown Center share and care for each other.  Maybe this should be the first in a series I could call "caught sharing."

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Once in a while

I recently received a note from someone telling me about something she did "every once and awhile."  That's a new one for me, so I looked it up just to be sure I'm not the one who was misunderstanding that idiom.  Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I've ever written the words before today.  Usually, it's a phrase I have said to someone or they have said to me.  (Yes, I know "someone" is singular, and "they" is plural.)  The best summary I found was here.  (I've edited the layout for emphasis.)
This idiom is up there with
  • “for all intents and purposes” (NOT “intensive purposes”),
  • “hunger pangs” (NOT “pains”), and
  • “exacting revenge” (NOT “extracting” it)
for how often it is confused by writers and speakers alike.
Reminder:  "Every once in a while” is the proper form of this expression —
  • NOT "every once and a while,” and
  • NOT “every once in awhile.”

Monday, November 4, 2019

Grant us peace ~ and a climate we can live with

It's been a decade since I blogged for peace in 2009.  Yesterday Mimi Lenox tracked me down to tell me it's time to do it again.  Thanks, Mimi, for the nudge and for a link to the official site of Blog4Peace.  Ten years ago, I wrote:
Bloggers from all across the globe are blogging for peace.
We speak with one voice.
One subject.
One day.

"Dona Nobis Pacem" is Latin for "Grant Us Peace."
This year, we are specifically blogging about climate, a subject that is dear to my heart.  For those who aren't convinced we are experiencing any problems with the climate, here's a link to evidence from NASA, which includes:
1.  Global Temperature Rise
2.  Warming Oceans
3.  Shrinking Ice Sheets
4.  Glacial Retreat
5.  Decreased Snow Cover
6.  Sea Level Rise
7.  Declining Arctic Sea Ice
8.  Extreme Events
9.  Ocean Acidification
There is no other planet, folks, so we need to take care of the one we have.  It's the only one the birds and the beasts have, too, and that's why I chose the illustration at the top.  They need us to be aware and to fix the mess we've made.

UPDATE:  It seems Clawdia discovered I was posting this.  (You know my cat also blogs here, right?)  She apparently saw I had set this to post at one minute past midnight, as usual, so she deliberately set her own post at exactly midnight.  Okay, go check out my cat's blog post.  She wants everyone to see more cats.  I say, if Snoopy can write about "a dark and stormy night," Clawdia can blog about climate change all she likes.  She's also an earthling, and she's purring for peace.

I'm purring for peace

All I'm meowing is give peace a chance.
And fix our climate.
Clawdia, 'til next time   >^..^<

Friday, November 1, 2019

New Things November 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 for the first days of November.

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
~ Enjoy new music today.  Play, sing, dance, or listen.
November 4
~ Today meet someone new and learn something about them.
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've not tried before.
November 7
~ When you feel you can't do something, add the word "yet."
November 8
~ Today connect with someone from a different generation.
November 9
~ Teach yourself a new skill.  Origami?  First aid?  Meditation?
November 10
~ Get out into nature and observe the changing season.

"You never know what you can do
until you try." ~ C. S. Lewis