Sunday, February 28, 2021

It's Caturday ~ animal edition


There is actually a cat in this photo.  Look carefully and see if you can find it.  Tomorrow, I will tell you where to look so that you too may see the cat.


Pandemic living makes me feel as downside up as this panda.  Oh, wait!  Pan-demic and pan-da.  Hmm, do you suppose there's some connection to be made here?


My friend Alyssa was holding back Hazel, her new dog, who shows a bit too much enthusiasm when meeting new friends.  In other words, Hazel wanted to jump up on me.
Tiger and panther

My stuffed tiger is on the shelf in the upper left, but my little black panther was inches from my hand while I was putting something in a plastic bag on that wooden surface at the bottom.  Do you see Clawdia now?  I absolutely did NOT see her until she opened her eyes and turned around.  Now you see her, and I don't need to wait until tomorrow to point her out.

So as I said, the pandemic has me as upside down as that panda, and I do NOT know what day it is most of the time.  Earlier today, I did know it was Sunday.  Why did I forget?  I dunno, you tell me.  Blame it on fuzzy pandemic thinking.  And this week, let's just say that Caturday came on Sunday for a change, okay?

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The buddy bench

I found out about buddy benches on Facebook, but I could not bring myself to post the writer's words without correcting the punctuation.
Walking through my son's school yard, I noticed a bench on the pavement with bright paint around it.  I asked my son, "Is that the only place to sit around here?"  And he said, "No, that's the buddy bench.  When someone feels lonely or they have nobody to play with, they sit there and people ask them to play."
Isn't this a wonderful idea?  All schools should have a buddy bench.  I went looking for an image so I could post this, and guess what I discovered?
  1. The idea was introduced from Germany in 2014, and buddy benches are appearing in schoolyards around the country.
  2. The little girl above made that Buddy Bench with the help of both of her grandfathers.  Click here to read an article about her from the summer of 2020, and notice her mask in the photo.
  3. There are several children's books about buddy benches.  I haven't read these books, but I'm going to share the titles I found, anyway.
The Buddy Bench ~ by Patty Brozo, illustrated by Mike Deas, 2019, children's book
The concept is simple:  When a child sits on the bench, it’s a signal to other kids to ask him or her to play.  A school playground can be a solitary place for a kid without playmates.  Having seen what being left out is like, children become change agents, convincing their teacher to let them build a buddy bench.
The Buddy Bench ~ by Gwendolyn Hooks, illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez, 2019, early chapter book
Five friends from diverse backgrounds learn how to navigate common childhood challenges, new experiences, and the world around them in the realistic Confetti Kids books.  In this story, Padma is excited about meeting new people at school.  Making friends comes easily to her, but she soon discovers that it can be hard for others.  When she notices a boy sitting by himself every day, Padma enlists her friends to create a buddy bench, where kids can go if they ever feel lonely and want a friend.
Come Sit with Me: Making Friends on the Buddy Bench ~ by Tina Gallo, illustrated by Luke Séguin-Magee, 2019, children's book
Turn a gray day into all the colors of the rainbow by sitting down on a buddy bench and having a chat with a friend in this imaginative book inspired by Crayola colors.  When someone is feeling sad or lonely, it’s up to all of us to help him or her feel better.  In this story, a group of kids is creating a buddy bench for the playground, but they can’t decide how to paint it.
The Buddy Bench ~ by B.D. Cottleston, illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla, 2019, early reader (or video)
The buddy bench launches two new friends on a chilly adventure.  On a surprisingly snowy day in Texas, a young student finds himself braving recess alone.  That is until he spots a new face sitting on the school's Buddy Bench.  After a quick introduction, the two spend their recess discovering fun ways to enjoy the snow.  By the end of recess, both children leave the playground with a brand new friend.  This sweet story of friendship brings the Buddy Bench's purpose to life.  (This one also comes as a video, as shown.)

Friday, February 26, 2021

Smallpox vaccination

I can no longer even see my polio vaccination scar from the 1940s.

Beginning ~ with an envelope

Chapter 1
The envelope slid from between the pages of the book and fell to the floor, landing between my feet.  The sudden familiarity of it — the pink paper slightly yellowed with age and the masculine, angular letter-ing in sparkly purple ink — was like a slap in the face.  I bent to retrieve it and pinched it between my thumb and forefinger as if it were something distaste-ful, possibly dangerous. . . . Lia had been my best friend.
What's Left Untold ~ by Sherri Leimkuhler, 2019, fiction

This suspenseful psychological drama centers on Anna and Lia, best friends in high school, who lost touch after a wild party one summer night.  Lia disappeared off to college, and Anna never heard from her again.  Hurt and angry, Anna has held a grudge all these years.  Now it’s time for the 20th reunion, and the two meet again.  Their mutual attraction is still strong, but when Anna learns the real reason Lia deserted her, she struggles to forgive and forget.  Keeping the secret for so long has created a cascade of problems for both women and their families.  In the end, some secrets may really be best "left untold."

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click on the blue link to see other books.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Found on Facebook

Thanks to my daughter who found this item about Tennessee.

Let the good times roll ~ with puns and TP

These have been puzzling times for lots of folks.
Click on the photo to enlarge the words.

What's that over yonder?  Where?

I want to be able to exercise "for the fun of fit."
Do these look like fun?  At least it uses a chair.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Radio Garden ~ a new way to travel the world

Look what I found!  We are SO connected with the rest of the world.  I've been listening to music coming from radio stations all over the world, via something called Radio Garden.  It uses a Google Earth map, and you can click on any of the dots to hear that station — anywhere in the world — with good reception.  This illustration above is from a 2016 article about Radio Garden, and I found a Wikipedia article — so it isn't new.  Just new to me.

When I clicked on the link, it centered on a small town near me.  I'm pretty good with maps, so I clicked on what I thought was the Chattanooga area and got WAWL.  Then I clicked again, aiming for the Nashville dot, and got a classical music station in Nashville, where I enjoyed music with a bassoon prominent in it.  I started rotating the world and clicking on the dots — Italy, London, Israel.  I'll bet it would be helpful to listen to native speakers like this, if you're learning a new language.

Actually, it felt to me like time travel.  I listened to stations in places where it was already the next day.  How weird is that?  I "went" to Australia, to India, to Japan.  Here's a radio station in Groningen in the Netherlands.  I found a station in Stadskanaall, close to the home of my friend Margreet in the Netherlands.  This is FUN.  I'll have to save this link.  It's a NEW way to travel the world.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Home Sweet Home ~ by Lilly Mirren

Home Sweet Home ~ by Lilly Mirren, 2020, fiction (Australia), 266 pages
Trina is starting over after a painful separation from her husband of almost twenty years.  Grief and loss force her to re-evaluate her life.  She returns to her hometown where she has to deal with all of the things she left behind, a hometown she hasn't visited since high school graduation.  When the police officer who lives next door comes knocking with questions about a tragedy from the past, Trina finds herself exploring the trauma of her childhood and facing the pain and stigma she's run from for so long.  Trina must confront the ghosts of her past and a mystery that's haunted her adult life.
I am not into reading series books, and I don't ever buy the first in a series since it may end in such a way that I have the keep buying in order to find out what happens to the characters.  This one was published in December 2020, and the second (and final) book in the series will not be published until May 25, 2021.  But Home Sweet Home was FREE for Kindle today, and those who already got the book think it's great, so I downloaded it.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A luxurious train ride through Scotland

A luxurious train ride?  I've always wanted to go to Scotland.  I'm part Scottish, as well as Irish and English and French.  It looks like fun.  Click through the thirteen pictures and dream a little.  Wanna go with me?  Oh, wait, there's this pandemic thing going on, isn't there?  Well, never mind.  We'll just dream a little and imagine what it would be like to ride this train and enjoy the scenery.

This is a view of a loch and Inveraray Castle, bottom right.  This castle is the seat of the Campbell's of Argyll, my clan according to family lore.  And what would we be leaving behind, if we go on our imaginary journey to Scotland?  Snow's still on the ground in St. Louis, but I don't think it looks this pretty.

Oh, what fun this snowman seems to be having!  What do you think is going through his mind?  No, this is NOT mindless fun, people.  Use your imagination.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is the shrugging emoticon

I love this little person:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  I see personality in the crooked smile.  I see someone who admits he doesn't know it all.  Doesn't she seem to be saying, "I dunno"?  And the best part is that it can be a him or a her, whichever you choose.

Friday, February 19, 2021

The TBR 21 in '21 challenge

The goal is to read 21 books from my TBR shelves in 2021.  I can do that easily, I think.  I'll list books here as I read them:
  1. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith ~ by Anne Lamott, 2005, memoir, 7/10
  2. Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint ~ by Nadia Bolz-Weber, 2013, memoir, 8/10
Here's the sign-up page, if you are interested.  No, it isn't too late, if you think you can read 21 books you already own.  I'm doing it, you know.  And here's the page to post your reviews after you've read each book.

Note added 3/27/2022

Well, folks, I totally forgot about this challenge after completing only two books.  I discovered it because I've been doing the TBR 22 in '22 Challenge.

Beginning ~ with her birthplace

Chapter 1 ~ My Birthplace
Like the dead-seeming, cold rocks, I have memories within that came out of the material that went to make me.  Time and place have had their say.  So you will have to know some-thing about the time and place where I came from, in order that you may interpret the incidents and directions of my life.
Dust Tracks on a Road ~ by Zora Neale Hurston, 1942, autobiography
First published in 1942 at the height of her popularity, Dust Tracks on a Road is Zora Neale Hurston’s candid, funny, bold, and poignant autobiography — an imaginative and exuberant account of her childhood in the rural South and her rise to a prominent place among the leading artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance.  As compelling as her acclaimed fiction, Hurston’s very personal literary self-portrait offers a revealing, often audacious glimpse into the life — public and private — of an extraordinary artist, anthropologist, chronicler, and champion of the Black experience in America.  Full of the wit and wisdom of a proud, spirited woman who started off low and climbed high, Dust Tracks on a Road is a rare treasure from one of literature’s most cherished voices.
I also want to share the first lines of the Foreword by Maya Angelo (c. 1991):
There is an eerie, sometimes pathetic, ofttimes beautiful urge that prevails in Black American lore, lyrics and literature.  The impulse, simply put, is to tell the tell one's own one has known it, and lived it, and even died it.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Things you can do alone during the pandemic

Exercise your body
No big deal.  Use a chair to help you balance if you are just starting.  When you kick back a few times with one foot, then do it again with the other foot.  See how easy it is?  Click to enlarge these pictures.

Exercise your mind

Can you write a sentence without using the letter "e"?

Uh-huh, and I'll show you how.  Just start writing, and you can do it.  I can totally do this, and so can you, if you try.  And I did it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Sharon's kipa is not a toboggan

Sharon crocheted this kipa she's wearing.  I looked up the word last night and learned it can be spelled several ways, but "kipa" is what Sharon texted back when I asked what she calls it.  She's a translator of several languages, so I'll definitely go with her spelling.  Isn't her kipa beautiful?

Word of the Day #1
kipa / ki·pa / kēˌpä / noun = another term for yarmulke.  To know more about kipas worn in Israel, take a look at this tour group site.
Word of the Day #2
yarmulke / yar·mul·ke / ˈyämə(l)kə / noun = a skullcap worn in public by Orthodox Jewish men or during prayer by other Jewish men.
I texted Sharon last night to ask what she calls her creation, "Do you call this a knitted cap or toboggan or something else."  She was confused, telling me she crocheted it.  Then she said, "A toboggan is like a luge in my mind."  So I need to add more definitions.

Word of the Day #3
toboggan / to·bog·gan / təˈbäɡən / nouna long narrow sled used for the sport of coasting downhill over snow or ice, which typically is made of a lightweight board that is curved upward and backward at the front; verb = to slide downhill over snow on a toboggan.  Example:  "This dog is having fun riding his toboggan down the hill."  Click the link to watch the dog do it all by herself.
Word of the Day #4
luge / lo͞oZH / noun = a light toboggan for one or two people, ridden in a sitting or supine position.  So a luge and a toboggan are the same thing.
A toboggan, to New Englanders and a majority of people who live in the northern part of the United States, is a wooden sled.  And that's why Sharon was confused when I used the word "toboggan" to ask about her "kipa" — a sled has nothing to do with what she wore on her head.  But wait!  There's another meaning for the word toboggan.

In the southern part of the United States, a toboggan is a winter hat.  Specifically, it has to be a knit hat.  Because of the freezing conditions, toboggan riders often wore knit hats to keep warm. These hats soon became known as “toboggan hats,” but since at least 1929, that second word has been dropped.  So a toboggan is a hat to Southerners, which may also include specific regions of Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, Maryland, West Virginia, southern Indiana, and New Mexico.  If you're in the American South, your toboggan is your hat!  And the girl in this photo is wearing a toboggan while riding her toboggan down a hill.  And now you know that I'm from the South, and Sharon isn't.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

TWOsday ~ my new book club and the weather

Book club

Last night, I met for the first time with the Nextdoor Book Club.  During our discussion of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (2020, fiction, 343 pages), I was juggling the Zoom grid, trying to look at all of the new people I was meeting for the first time.  The group did an excellent job of covering all aspects of the book.  I'll be back next month when we talk about The One by John Marrs, a 2018 thriller about a simple DNA test to be matched with your perfect partner — the one you’re genetically made for.  That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA.  But "happily ever after" isn’t guaranteed for everyone, because even soul mates have secrets.  And some are more shocking than others.

Another record low in St. Louis

At 7:50 a.m. today in St. Louis, the temperature was -3°F and felt like -22°F, according to the weather app.  The record low here for February 16th was 2°F in 2007, which means we broke another day's record, as we did yesterday.  I've had enough of this cold weather!  I'd hate for this to be a regular daily feature of this blog.  The not-so-good news:  someone on Nextdoor named her neighborhood and wrote:  I don’t have any running water this morning.  I’m assuming it’s a frozen/burst pipe somewhere outside.  Is anyone else nearby having the same issue?"  The good news:  the sun is shining today.

Monday, February 15, 2021

On my mind today

Copies of this ditty have been posted in our elevators, and I love it.  Yes, people, please wear your masks.  That's all I ask.

New record low in St. Louis
At 12:34 a.m. today in St. Louis, the temperature was 0°F and felt like -21°F, according to the weather app.  Our record low for February 15th was 6°F in 2007, so we broke that record — in the first hour of the day.  Unfortunately, the winter storm cancelled my appointment to get my first vaccine this afternoon.  I got the call at 9:30 this morning.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentine hug from Snoopy ~ and from me to you

A love-hate challenge for Valentine's Day

Do you like the candy hearts with sayings on them?  Here's a challenge for you.  Tell me in the comments what you love and what you hate, using these hearts to guide you.  "I love to see..."  "I love it when..."

I responded to these back in 2008.  See what I said by clicking that blue link.  By the way, don't blame me for this meme; it's all Colleen's fault.  As her candy heart says, the idea is AW SUM.