Friday, May 29, 2020

Beginning ~ with the plane crash

"Each moment was different from the one before, but each had its own unique threat, its own unmistakable sign that something serious was happening.  The plane was still moving, so I knew it hadn't yet crashed against one of those peaks that had come into view much too close to the little window I had been resting my head against only seconds earlier."
Out of the Silence: After the Crash ~ by Eduardo Strauch, translated by Jennie Erikson, 2012 (translation 2019), memoir (Argentina)
A rugby team crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972.  Four decades later, a climber discovered survivor Eduardo Strauch's wallet near the memorialized crash site and returned it to him.  Strauch felt compelled to "break the silence of the mountains"  and revisited the horror story to share how surviving that crash forever altered his perception of love, friendship, death, fear, loss, and hope.
One reviewer wrote that "several people ... had a premonition before takeoff that the plane might crash."  I got this book back in April, when the Kindle version was offered free for a few days.  Now, I'm ready to start reading it.

============================
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.
Click this link for book beginnings
shared by other readers.
============================

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Laugh, kookaburra

The guy who built this, while home during the coronavirus pandemic, must have been REALLY bored.  Watch the video of this huge kookaburra laughing while being driven through a neighborhood.

Then listen to the song that I remember:  Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.  Do you remember it?  It seems to be an Australian children's song, so how do I know it?  It's been years, so I don't remember.

Come on, folks, laugh with me.  Or better, laugh with this kookaburra.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Quarantine Barbies ~ and Clawdia's window

I found some Quarantine Barbies and fell in love with the New Hobby edition because it has a guitar.  I don't need the What Day Is It? edition, with days of the week on her underwear, because I have my weekly pill box to tell me that.  Tonya Ruiz at Barbie Gets Real (on Facebook) has designed several Quarantine Barbies, along with a few Kens (I like Zoom Ken wearing boxer shorts), some homeschoolers, a couple of toddlers, and an infant.  She made a YouTube video to share details about them (listed below), including a few I hadn't seen before finding the video.  She's still dreaming up others.  Can you relate to any of these?
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ Starter Pack (curvy doll in stretchy pants)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ Binge Watching (with a TV and snacks)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ Bread Baking (with flour and mixer)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ Homeschool Mom (with 3 kids plus toddler)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ Home Salon Edition (wearing a robe)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ New Hobby (with a guitar and puzzle)
  • Quarantine Barbie and Ken ~ Quarreling Couple (back to back)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ What Day Is It? (with a laptop and calendar)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ What Time Is It? (wearing pajamas)
  • Quarantine Barbie ~ Zoom Ken (with toddler and infant)
  • Pandemic Hero ~ Health Care Worker (wearing scrubs)
  • Pandemic Hero ~ Sanitation Worker (with tiny garbage)
Try to see which dolls have toilet paper as you watch that video.  Can you determine what Barbie and Ken are quarreling about?  Which ones have the best snacks?  Be a sleuth, click here, and find out.

While I was laughing about these Barbie dolls, Clawdia was basking in the open window, enjoying the sunshine before the rain.  What have you been doing during this lockdown?  Will you rush out to go shopping or dining out the minute it's allowed where you live?  Or are you feeling as cautious about that as I am?

Clawdia was back in the window, when I opened it after the rain.  Not quite as sunny, but the rain cooled us off a bit.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

An immersive experience

Istanbul Archaeological Museum
This morning, Deb Nance blogged about Zoom, Zoom, and More Zoom on Readerbuzz.  She "Zoomed" with her book club and for other meetings, had conversations "from afar" with friends, and put on mask and gloves to pick up books at the library.  That part of her post ended with "That's my week."  Sounds like the kind of week I've had.  In the next section, Deb says:
"I read a book last week.  It was an immersive experience."
I'm reading a novel now and making it an immersive experience in a different kind of way.  Yesterday, I posted that I've immersed myself in the story of The Girl in the Tree by Şebnem İşigüzel by googling the park in Istanbul where it's set and "looking around" the area.  One of the things I noticed was the Istanbul Archaeological Museum on the east.  Imagine my surprise when I read just a couple of pages into the novel:
"I know Gülhane Park well because for years my father worked at the Archaeology Museum, which is right behind it" (p. 3).
No way!  I'd just seen that museum on the map!  If I hadn't been so caught up in the location of the story, though, I might have quit reading in the first chapter.  The girl who climbed into a tree to stay narrates her own story.  She's snarky, uses offensive words simply to shock, and seems to be totally immersed in the life and music of Amy Winehouse (1983-2011).  I looked up that information because she keeps referring to "the day Amy died," which (I learned online) was July 23, 2011.  The narrator was thirteen when Amy died, but is now seventeen.

At the beginning of Chapter 2, the girl's aunt is playing Amy's "Back to Black" music.  So I looked it up and found the lyrics.
We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to black
Not my kind of music, not my kind of lyrics — nope, not posting all of the words here.  I did listen to Amy sing it, in order to immerse myself in the narrative — but once is enough.  The YouTube video shows Amy wearing black while burying someone and "saying goodbye" at a cemetery — and the video bleeps out the crude words I won't put on my blog.

I don't get any connection, but maybe I'll see how it fits the story as I keep reading.  Okay, back to her tree, back to reading.  I may be self-isolating at home with my cat, but I'm really in Istanbul, without the risk of flying across an ocean during a pandemic with a crowded cabin full of people in order to see Istanbul in person.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Let's laugh a little

Click to enlarge the image to see the colorful cats
Do you think Clawdia would recognize her best buddy from down the hall?  It's Sharon in a new mask, Clawdia.  See?  And look at the colorful kitties on her mask.  Ehh, Clawdia isn't interested if no petting ensues, and petting is currently unavailable, even through Zoom.

Word of the Day
en·sue / inˈso͞o, enˈso͞o / verb = happen or occur afterward or as a result.  Example:  "Clawdia wants to be loved, so petting should ensue with every encounter with friends."
Uninstall 2020?

We could give it a try, but I imagine most people just want to move on to something better.  We don't want to live through this period again.

More TED Talks

I have shared the idea of TED Talks by Noah and Abraham, as suggested by Joanna Harader.  Here are two of her other imagined talks.  What do you think Esther would say to us?  Or Balaam with his donkey?  Here are the titles and the gist of what they might tell us.

Balaam and His Ass, a 1626 painting by Rembrandt
Balaam (Numbers 22:21-35)
Don’t Beat Your Donkey
If someone trustworthy is trying to prevent you from doing something, maybe you should listen to them instead of pitching a ridiculous fit.
Esther Denouncing Haman, an 1888 painting by Ernest Normand
Esther (Esther 4:14)
Who Knows?  Perhaps You Have Been Put in Your Position for Such a Time as This
Which stinks for you because this is a terrible time and why should God make you be someone who has to deal with all of this mess?

Beginning ~ with climbing a tree

Gülhane Park
"This is a story of freedom and love.  The story of two young people ailing in heart and soul.  I was one of them.  That night I climbed with effortless ease the tree where I was going to live."
A paragraph or two below those opening lines, I found this:
"I hadn't planned on climbing a tree and staying there.  It just happened."
The Girl in the Tree ~ by Şebnem İşigüzel, translated by Mark David Wyers, 2016 (translation 2020), fiction (Turkey)
A young woman climbs the tallest tree in Istanbul’s centuries-old Gülhane Park, determined to live out the rest of her days there.  Perched in an abandoned stork’s nest in a sanctuary of branches and leaves, she tries to make sense of the rising tide of violence in the world below.  Torn between the desire to forget all that has happened and the need to remember, her story begins to unfold.

Then, unexpectedly, comes a soul mate with a shared destiny.  A lonely boy working at a nearby hotel looks up and falls in love.  The two share stories of the fates of their families, of a changing city, and of their political awakenings in the Gezi Park protests.  Together, they navigate their histories of love and loss, set against a backdrop of societal tension leading up to the tragic bombing that marked a turn in Turkey’s democracy — and sent a young girl fleeing into the trees.
I just googled "Istanbul Gülhane Park" and took at look at the actual place.  Wow!  I could not only walk among the trees there — in effect — but I could also click on the Google map and use the satellite view to imagine I'm there with the book's characters.  I noticed Istanbul Archaeological Museum is on the east, and there's a mosque just up the street.  To the west, believe it or not, there's a Domino's Pizza a few blocks away.  How funny!  Here's a wikipedia article about Gülhane Park.  I wonder if I'll be able to get even closer to "her" tree once I'm into reading the book.  We'll see.

============================
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.
Click this link for book beginnings
shared by other readers.
============================

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Kitty on a catwalk — and making music

I got the idea for this post from an email sent out by Clawdia's vet.  We’ve all been inside a lot lately, they suggest, so my kitty may be ready for an outdoor adventure.  In the link to their website, they explain how to train a cat to a leash.  Oh, but Clawdia isn't new to going for a walk on a leash.  Sometimes she plops down in the grass, and sometimes she jumps up on Donna's windowsill.  The temperature here is in the mid-sixties right now, so I think I'll take Clawdia for walk right now — a cat walk.  Why should dogs have all the fun?

Mbira and Kalimba

The Google Doodle for today is "an interactive experience."  It's like playing a game, and clicking on my touchpad "played" the mbira, an African musical instrument, like the one pictured above.  It's a thumb piano.  Click on this Google link, and give it a try.

Since I play piano and like to make music, Donna gave me her little thumb piano.  I learned somewhere it's called a kalimba.  Though it's similar, it doesn't have as many notes to play as that mbira above — just a single octave.  I found a 2010 Guardian article about the mbira, if you want to learn more.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mascot for 2020

Here's the official mascot of 2020.  Why a racoon?  Because he washes his hands a lot and always wears a mask.  Best reason?  Rearrange the letters in RACOON, and we get the word CORONA.  Surprise, surprise!

Many thanks to this raccoon for a hand washing tutorial (click the link).  Here are the proper steps:
  1. Wet hands with water.
  2. Rub hands with soap.
  3. Scrub for 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse with water.

Memorial Day picnic menu

Our Circle@Crown Café opened back up in early May, but only for curbside pickup and delivery to apartments of the residents who live at the Crown Center.  And now they are offering a special Memorial Day picnic menu.  Yay!  I've already ordered mine.  Here's the special menu, for all our friends and neighbors who want to drive over here for  curbside pickup.
  • Deviled Eggs (6 halves) - $4.00
  • 7 Layer Bean Dip and Chips - small tray $10.00
  • Rosemary Hummus and Pita - 1/2 pound $5.00
  • Greek Angel Hair Pasta Salad - 1 pound $7.50
  • Vegetarian Baked Beans - 1 pint $8.00
Special orders need to be placed by Friday, May 22nd for pickup on Monday, May 25th.  Call them at 314-412-4350.  The Café's regular menu is also available and can be found on their website:  https://crowncenterstl.org/cafe/.  When I placed my order for Monday, I also ordered the Circle Salad for today's lunch, delivered to my door within minutes.  I love it because of the toasted walnuts, the dried cranberries, and the shredded mozzarella cheese on lettuce.  Oh, and the balsamic vinaigrete.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Ain't No Sunshine

Click to enlarge this photo
I'm posting this for myself, since I had forgotten exactly which numbers on plastic can be recycled.  I see (again) that it's #1-5 and #7.  It's that #6 that we are not supposed to recycle.  I took this photo of the screen during a presentation we had in the Weinberg Lounge back in July 2018.  It seems so long ago, but that's because it's been "years" since we began lockdown in March.

Today started off gloomy, and it stayed gloomy.  My spirits seemed to go down, down, down all day, and I was feeling very negative.  A song title popped into my head:  Ain't No Sunshine.  I googled to find it on YouTube (click the link, if you want to listen to the song).
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
It's not warm when she's away.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone,
And she's always gone too long
Anytime she goes away.
And feeling down, I added mentally, "Ain't no sunshine when EVERYBODY is gone, when I'm isolated from the whole community, only seeing people out my window jogging or walking their dogs."  Music didn't lift my spirits, so I went on Facebook and it was another downer, reading about what's going on in the world.  I was flat on my back on my bed, staring out the window, when the sun suddenly brightened my day.  I actually looked at the time:  5:54 pm.  I smiled.  It was sunny and beautiful.  I did, truly, feel uplifted — and I smiled — for mere seconds.

A shadow fell over the building across from me, and I watched that little patch of sunshine float away through my neighborhood.  "Noooooooo!" I thought.  "No, no, no!"  But it was gone.  Still, I felt less depressed for that less-than-a-minute splash of sunshine.  I marveled at it, that a few seconds of light can make such a difference.  About ten minutes later, another patch of sunshine rolled in, and I smiled.  The clouds kept showing me patches of sun, then more overcast until it stayed sunny for quite a while.  My whole day improved.

So let's flip the atmosphere in this post.  Here's something upbeat that happened after the sun arrived.  I saw TWO birds fly into that vent across from me, one after the other.  I wonder if that means there are now baby birds to be fed.  It's been a couple of days since I told that story about the birds, so here's the link, in case you missed it before.  It's dark now, but the sun even late in the day was uplifting, and I wanted to share it with you.

The Sacrifice of Isaac, a 1635 painting by Rembrandt
On Thursday, I shared the idea of a TED Talk by Noah, as suggested by Joanna Harader.  Here's another of her suggestions.  What do you think Abraham would say to us?  Here's the title of that imagined talk, along with the gist of what Abraham might tell us.
Don’t Sacrifice the Vulnerable

How I thought I had to prove my faith by killing my son but turns out I was wrong and putting my son in harm’s way wasn’t really what God wanted.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Flowers, words, and a gift for Louie

Irises

Yesterday, I snapped a couple of pictures of flowers growing behind the Crown Center when I took Clawdia out to walk in the grass and listen to the birds.  She chose to plop down near these multi-colored irises in the middle of our grassy area.

These purple irises are also growing around the sculpture located in the middle of our curving paths.  While in the gardening area with Clawdia, I saw a bird swoop down to an air conditioning unit in my building and disappear inside.  For days, I've watched a bird make a smooth, looping approach to one of the units in the building across from my windows.  It slips between the vents to the inside of the unit while landing.  But that looks impossible.  I decided a mama bird must have built a nest inside there.  Maybe she's bringing food to her chicks, or maybe it's the daddy bird feeding her as she sits on the eggs.  Who knew that birds could do such a tricky thing as flying or landing between vent slats?

Gift for Louie

Speaking of birds, I took a gift to Sandy's Louie this afternoon.  In cleaning out, I came across this colorful, lightweight (maybe balsa wood?) toucan souvenir someone apparently saved from a trip to Costa Rica.  It's about three inches tall, and the beak
measures about an inch and a half.  Clawdia is curious about it, but I'm not giving it to her.  Sandy told me she put the little toucan near Louie's cage.  Here's a recent photo Sandy took of Louie.

Word of the Day #1
souvenir / sou·ve·nir /ˌso͞ovəˈnir / noun (from French, for remembrance) = a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event.  In other words, it's a memento or keepsake.
Example:  "I gave Louie that little toucan souvenir from Costa Rica."

Word of the Day #2
cancel / can·cel / ˈkansəl / verb = decide or announce something (like a planned event) that will not take place.
The writer of that poster needs the past tense, so what's the correct spelling?  Grammarly says:
Canceled or cancelled is the past tense of the verb to cancel.  Both spellings are correct; Americans favor canceled (one L), while cancelled (two Ls) is preferred in British English and other dialects.  However, there is only one correct spelling of the word cancellation, no matter where you are.  Mr. Webster decided to chop the past tense of "cancel" down to one L.  This variation first showed up in the Webster’s 1898 Dictionary, though it didn’t fully beat out the double-L spelling until about the 1980s.
So here in the USA, the poster should say:  "The National Spelling Bee has been canceled."  I thought it would be two Ls.  To be sure, I looked it up.  If the double-L spelling lasted into the 1980s, that explains why the double-L spelling still looks correct to me.  I was born in 1940, so I have probably spelled it "cancelled" for decades.  Our words evolve constantly, and dictionaries are quickly out of date.

Gift for Bonnie

Sharon in the Café, "long ago"
Fifteen minutes after posting this, I got a text from Sharon, who lives at the other end of my hall.  Yes, the very same Sharon who is one of Clawdia's very best friends:
"Corn on the cob still warm outside your door."
She was almost to the other end of my hall when I got to the door, but she came back halfway when Clawdia hurried out of our apartment, having heard her buddy talking to me.  Clawdia got her little bit of loving, and I bustled her into our apartment so I could snarf down my gift of corn on the cob.  It was the moistest corn I've had in years.  Do you suppose lockdown is making us see (and taste) things in a new and more appreciative way?

Word of the Day #3
snarf / snärf / verb / informal, North American = to eat or drink quickly or greedily.  Example:  "Yes, it's true that I snarfed down that corn on the cob."
More Words Today

Since Sharon is a translator, I asked her later if the information I found online about the French origin of souvenir (Word of the Day #1 above) is correct.  She told me that je me souviens is the Quebequois way of saying, "I remember" and that the verb souvenir means "to remember."  We were conversing in messages, so I looked up Quebequois and learned that it's the form of French spoken in Quebec.  Okay, this is about all the learning I feel up to today, so I'm going to bed.  G'nite.  (That's a contraction of "good night," but you knew that, didn't you?)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Pandemic ponderings

Noah's ark on Mount Ararat, a 1570 painting by Simon de Myle
What if Noah gave a TED Talk about our current situation?  Do you suppose he'd have anything to say to us?  Joanna Harader came up with what she thinks several characters from Bible stories might tell us in "these days of social isolation during a worldwide pandemic."  Here's the title of Noah's talk, along with a snippet about his subject:
The Life You Save Will Be Your Own

Dealing with people who think you are being ridicu-lous and over-reacting to an impending catastrophe that they don’t believe is real despite all the evidence.
Sound familiar?  I love it!  I may share some of her other TED Talk titles later.  If you can't wait, here's her whole list on RevGalsBlogPals.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Does this look like fun to you?

Ginnie has posted an idea of something to do if you are "getting antsy staying home."  Make a coronavirus pinata.  Okay, this is an original idea.  Smash that pinata to get rid of your pent-up frustrations.  Think of what fun children would have making — and smashing — a pinata.  And think of the laughter that would ensue.  I can't help you with how to make paper mache, but here's what Google suggests (click that link).  Maybe you'll get side-tracked and end up making some lovely thing out of the paper mache instead.

Words of the Day
pent-up / pent-up / pentˈəp / adjective = closely confined or held back.  Example:  "Get rid of pent-up frustrations by whacking a coronavirus pinata."

paper mache / (US)ˌpeɪpɚ məˈʃeɪ / from the French papier-mâché (literally “chewed-up paper”) =  a substance made from paper pulp that can be molded when wet and painted when dry.

I got another book ~ Why are you not surprised?

The Antiquities Dealer (A David Greenberg Mystery Book 1) ~ by Ed Protzel, 2018, mystery (Missouri, Israel)
Pursued across continents by Christian, Jewish and Muslim extremists, all seeking a priceless relic, antiquities dealer David Greenberg must decipher the sole clue to its whereabouts.  Is humankind's future at stake?  Who is behind the plot — and why?

When Miriam Solomon, the love of David Greenberg’s life, phones him at his antiquities gallery in St. Louis, the black hole at the center of his heart shudders.  Twenty years earlier, Miriam had inexplicably run off to Israel with his best friend, Solly, a brilliant but nerdy young scientist.  Now she tells David that Solly has committed suicide and she needs his aid on a secret research project Solly left unfinished:  to acquire the one remaining nail from the crucifixion of Jesus.  Is she telling the truth?  And why does that nail have such significance?
A local author named Ed Protzel (read his bio here) posted on our neighborhood page that some of his books are only $0.99 right now for Kindle.  I decided to buy this one, after reading Amazon's excerpt, because in the first scene the main characters meet at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant in the Delmar Loop where I've eaten several times.  I take out-of-town friends there, like Mike Feely last year.  The U-City Library has a copy, available whenever the library re-opens.  However, I went ahead and bought it for my Kindle because (as the author says) it's only $0.99 right now.  I'll share the link to his offer, in case any of you are interested:  99¢ STUCK-AT-HOME KINDLE OFFER!  If you don't have a Kindle, Amazon will give you a free app to read a book on your laptop or computer.  I got it myself when a children's book I wanted couldn't be downloaded to my Kindle.  Here's the Facebook page for this book, too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Cleaning out and looking back

Crown Center irises, May 2019
Flower of the Day

Iris eyes smiling
back at the man who sees
more than a flower

by Judi Walters

haiku posted in a comment
March 30, 2011 at 9:38am

Memories are made of this

Today is my great-granddaughter's birthday, so I'll share a cute story from when she was little.
Raegan:  "The moon smells good."
Her mom:  "What does it smell like?"
Raegan:  "Ladybugs."
Susannah has a thoughtful post today.  I snagged her title:  Cleaning Out and Looking Back.  Here's the part that caught my attention:
"I took the calendars out of the box and sorted through the papers first.  Most of the paper is being recycled as it is no longer something I need.  The calendars stayed in their pile.  Should I keep them?  Why should I keep them?  I opened the first one from 2004, and I was not prepared for the flood of emotions that came to me.  I read of meetings with people I have not seen in years. ... I saw notes about plays and sporting events and parties I attended ... As I turned the pages, I got married, moved to a new state and church, bought a house, said good-bye to my best friend, watched my husband graduate, said good-bye to family members while welcoming others to the family.  So many memories in these pages."
Looking back at memories is something I've been doing during this time at home alone.  (Sorry, Clawdia, I meant home without other humans.)  I'm not reading as much, though I've set up a book discussion for anyone who has the book Purple Hibiscus or has already read it.  I, too, have been sorting through books and papers and tossing stuff.

Yesterday, I gave a couple of books to Rosita, who told me a few years ago that she's from Egypt.  She had called to say she'd heard I was "the librarian" and could I maybe get her a couple of books out of our closed and locked library.  No, I don't have access to that, but I could give her my own books.  I asked her what she likes to read and who her favorite authors are.  "Anything!" was her answer.  She's also a knitter, but has run out of yarn and run out of books.  She sounded so frustrated.  I chose a couple of novels from my shelves and took them in a bag to hang on her door.  Since I had called first to let her know I was coming, she met me at the door on her electric scooter and thanked me profusely.  One frustration taken care of.

Walter Richard Sickert’s interpretation of boredom, which is in the Ashmolean Museum, shows another couple of bored people.

Word of the Day
ennui / en·nui / änˈwē / noun = a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.  Example:  "He succumbed to ennui and despair."
I had a hard time making myself keep reading the last book in the Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys, and How They Turned Out (1886), which I rated 4 of 10 ("struggled to finish, but not worth it").  The reason I'm quoting it now is that I came across the word "ennui" three times in the text:
  • "If one could have a fine house, full of nice girls, or go travelling, the summer would be delightful; but to stay at home with three selfish sisters and a grown-up boy was enough to try the patience of a Boaz," complained Miss Malaprop, after several days devoted to pleasure, fretting, and ennui (loc. 2205).
  • "Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for everyone; it keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion" (loc. 2328).
  • "I think I was dying of ennui" (loc. 16186).
Too much ennui causes people to search for something, just anything, to keep busy.  This poor cat is tired of it.  If you can't read that dark writing, it says:  "God, please send them back to work."  A commenter online said, "Or send the children back to school."

Monday, May 11, 2020

New normal

Three of my great-grandchildren today, with their mom.
And the youngest fought it all the way.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Re-reading old favorites

Erin Wathen
"Attention span has left the building."  I read that line the other day in an article by Erin Wathen, also know as Irreverin.  (Can you see "Ir-Rev-Erin" in that moniker?)  The article is entitled The Gospel of Reading What We've Already Read Before.
"Our old stories have some-thing to teach us.  And those that become favor-ites, have a place in our lives for a reason. They teach us how to find hope when that rare bird seems elusive; they teach us resilience and creativity; and most of all, they bring us to a place that is familiar, so we can catch our breath and then get back to the business of navigating the unknown.  The story itself is the gift.  And fact or fiction, it’s as true as anything we know."
I'm sure I'm not the only one who can empathize with the idea that my attention span is less that it used to be.  I haven't been reading nearly as much as normal for me.  But "normal" has changed a lot in the last few weeks, hasn't it?  When I got the book Purple Hibiscus last week, I knew I'd read it before, and it wasn't what I'd call "an old favorite."  I did look through the list of books I've read and discovered I'd given it a rating of 8/10 when I finished reading it in April 2013.  I consider 8 of 10 a "very good" read.  So I've started re-reading this 2003 novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I'm mentally traveling "back to Nigeria."

Then maybe I'll finish reading Erin Wathen's book that's here beside my chair that I started reading in March, when it was Women's History Month:  Resist and Persist.

Word of the Day
mon·i·ker /ˈmänəkər / noun informal = a name.
Example:  "Her real moniker is Erin Wathen."

Friday, May 8, 2020

Beginning ~ with Papa breaking the figurines

Purple Hibiscus ~ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2003, fiction (Nigeria)
"Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the étagère."
I read this novel in 2013, as a library book with the cover pictured above.  On Monday, I was given a newer edition with a bright red cover and intend to start reading it again today.  Adichie is an excellent writer (I've read several of her books), and I'm quite willing to read this one a second time so I can discuss it on my Book Buddies blog.  If you can get a copy, you're welcome to join the discussion.  Here's what it's about:
Kambili (age 15) and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life.  They live in a beautiful house in Enugu, Nigeria and attend an exclusive missionary school, but their home life is not harmonious.  Their father is a respected businessman, but he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home.  When their loving and outspoken aunt persuades her brother that the children should visit her, Kambili and Jaja take their first trip away from home.  Once inside their Aunty Ifeoma's flat in the smaller city of Nsukka, they discover a whole new world.  When they return home, changed by their newfound freedom, nothing can be the same as before.  Tension within the family esalates, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together — even after her mother commits a desperate act.

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Interfaith Day of Prayer

Today is Interfaith Day of Prayer.  Here's a prayer by the Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon that came in an email this morning.  She is Senior Pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri.  She is also Associate General Minister of the UCC's Justice and Local Church Ministries.
Holy One,

Here we are, called by your many names in many languages, to humble ourselves and pray.  Here we are, God, called together from diverse places and spaces to seek your face, to look upon the sickness that has infected our world, to acknowledge the wickedness of both our compliance and our complicity, and to lament the consequences of our actions aloud.  Here we are to wail.  Here we are to sound the alarm.  Here we are to groan.  Here we are, to cry out on behalf of Your creation.  And to turn.

For the voices gathered here as a cacophony of lament on this National Day of Prayer, I honor your power.  For the congregations and communities, both near and far, seen and unseen, heard and ignored, we represent, I honor your presence.  For creation wounded and trying to heal, I give you praise.  For the voices all around this world that never cease to call upon you for the strength to rise, for the courage to confront, and for the hope to sustain, we join our voices to theirs and offer these prayers.  We are crying out to you.

And we are listening.  We are listening for you in the wind.  We are listening for you in the quaking of the earth.  We are listening for you in the fire.  We are listening for you in cries of our people.  We are listening for you, listening in the stillness of our streets.  We are listening.  We are waiting.  Knowing that you hear our cries, we wait for your mercy as we turn our hearts toward your people and heal our land.

We pray in many names.
I pray in the name of Jesus.
Amen
In October 2019, I read White Privilege: Let's Talk ~ A Resource for Transformational Dialogue by Traci Blackmon, John Dorhauer, Da Vita McCallister, John Paddock, and Stephen G. Ray, that was published in 2016.  This resource is only 99-cents for Kindle, and resources for facilitators are available free from the publisher.  Here are some of my notes from that book:
"In the same way that a tinted lens will color everything seen through it, seeing the world through the lens of race changed the way I see everything" (loc. 119).

"Join efforts to repeal the 13th Amendment's exception clause.  Ostensibly, the 13th Amendment, passed in 1865, banned slavery.  But the exception clause still allows it.  The amendment reads: 'Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction" (loc. 2030).

"Rule 1:  Being a white ally is understanding the ubiquity of anti-Black animus held by a majority of white people, and therefore being inclined to believe Black people about the presence of racism in everyday life" (loc. 2233).

"Rule 2:  Being a white ally is not denying the power and privilege that your whiteness brings you, but rather asking how you can use it in the struggles to ameliorate the effects of white supremacy on Black persons and communities" (loc. 2262).
The "Do You Pray" illustration above was in the same email this morning from Parkway UCC.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Flowers, words, and lots of friends

Flower for the Day

My friend Sharon sent me azalea photos this morning along with the poem "Azalea Forest," which I later found online.  I wrote back:  "Is this your house?  The azaleas are beautiful."  She replied, "A friend of mine has published this for a number years.  If you want to be added to his daily posts, lmk and I'll have him add you to it!"

Beautiful pink azaleas are growing here and there,
A touch of surreal pink fills the forest air,
Tall, tall trees beautifully grow;
Oh I love this forest so!
Patches of light-green grass,
Grow here and there on the forest path,
Sunlight illuminates the air;
Birds are chirping without a care.
God created each azalea with love,
Just as He made the beautiful dove,
Evening sunlight dances in the west;
Shining in the Azalea Forest.

Marian, August 2013

When we built our house in 1965 on Signal Mountain near Chattanooga, we planted rhododendrons along the front.  I looked up the difference between the two kinds of flowers and found this explanation:
  • All azaleas are rhododendrons, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas.
  • Most azaleas are deciduous, but true rhododendrons are usually evergreen.
  • Azaleas have funnel shaped flowers; rhodendron flowers tend to be bell-shaped.
There were also wild rhodendrons growing on the other side of the mountain stream that ran through our little acre.  I love the flowers.  Mine were more pinkish (like this photo I found online), and I don't remember them ever being as lush and full of flowers as his.

Wednesday Words
  • lush / ˈləsh / adjective = growing vigorously, especially with luxuriant foliage.  Example:  My azaleas weren't quite as lush as those pictured above.
  • lmk = an acronym meaning "Let Me Know."  This one I could figure out, in the context, but not every reader of my blog may know this.  Example:  If you want to be added to his daily posts, lmk and I'll have him add you to it.
  • deciduous / diˈsijo͞oəs / adjective = a tree or shrub that sheds its leaves annually.  Example:  My rhododendrons kept their leaves year round, so they were not deciduous.
Decades of difference

Our meals for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday include glazed salmon, chicken paprikash, and a tuna salad sandwich.  We also get three soups this week:  potato soup, split pea soup, and vegetable soup.  Donna emailed, "Do you want my split pea soup?"  I responded, "Sure, but hang onto it for a day or two, since I've just been down to meet the Instacart guy delivering my groceries, talked to Floyd on the link desk while waiting for the delivery, ran into Emily as she arrived home, spoke to Marie about discussing our new book on the Book Buddies blog, and told Sharon (in passing) that she has a box on the delivery table.  I'm in for today, I think, though Clawdia has been doing mad-cat dashes around the apartment, jealous that I got out of the apartment and won't let HER go for a walk in the hall."

I spoke to a lot of people today, as we were carefully keeping our "social distance" in the hallways and all wearing masks.  It's funny how a mere five people — FIVE — seem like "a lot" after days of staying home and not socializing, not shopping, not attending events, not eating in the dining room or Café together.  It seems like decades since we freely did those things every day!

Speaking of "decades" — I just realized today how very much Donna and I differ in ages, at least during these few days between our birthdays.  As of last week, I'm 80 and can say "I'm in my 80's," while she's only in her 60's.  Good grief!  Oh, well, she'll be 70 on Friday.