Monday, May 31, 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021

Beginning ~ with a command


 "Come along, come along, everybody."  Mrs. Gallsworthy clapped her hands.  "We haven't booked the hall for the whole week."

Mavis and Dot ~ by Angela Petch, 2018, fiction (England)

Two eccentric ladies form an unlikely friendship.  Mavis and Dot — two colorful, retired ladies — live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore.  Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees, and more.  And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog nobody else wants.  This story is a gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Getting out again

Hurray, hurray!

Furniture is being moved back into the lobby of my building.  Maybe we're beginning to see the rainbow at the end of this miserable pandemic year — actually, it's been more than a year, as shown by this photo I took of the lobby on April 2, 2020.  Taped squares have been removed from in front of the elevator showing where to stand to be six feet from others waiting.


This quote I found on Colleen's Loose Leaf Notes blog today made me stop and think.  I've emphasized the four categories of people, which I'll note could be women as well as men, no matter how Mencken and Keillor labeled them:

"A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.  A theologian is the man who finds it.  A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.  An author is a man who, in the absence of toilet tissue, is forced to use his own manuscript and regrets that he wrote on such stiff paper." — H.L. Mencken and Garrison Keillor

Visiting with neighbors

The Crown Center recently put our outside tables in grassy areas with two chairs each, so we can visit with each other again, I presume.  I sat down with Rosie just outside the main entrance to our building on a warm day, and we caught up a bit on what we've been doing.  Earlier that day, I visited with Emma, one of the two grad students who lived here before the pandemic.  She came with her mother Jane, who was visiting from Ohio.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Salon ~ deer and books, books, books

Deer in a yard
A couple of weeks ago, we had a wild bear in a yard a couple of miles from me.  Today we have these four deer in a yard in Bridgeton, about seven miles from my home.  We are encroaching on their habitat.
Word of the Day #1
en·croach / inˈkrōCH, enˈkrōCH / verb (encroaching is the gerund or present participle) = intrude on their territory.  Example:  "Humans have encroached on the territory of the wildlife."
Word of the Day #2
hab·i·tat / ˈhabəˌtat / noun = the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.  Example:  "We are shrinking the natural habitat of bears, deer, and other wildlife with our expanding neighborhoods."
Book just finished 

Grammar for a Full Life: How the Ways We Shape a Sentence Can Limit or Enlarge Us ~ by Lawrence Weinstein, 2020, English language, 8/10

Book up next ~ nonfiction 

The Last Children of Mill Creek ~ by Vivian Gibson, 2020, memoir (Missouri) ~ Vivian Gibson grew up in Mill Creek Valley, a segregated working-class neighborhood of St. Louis that was razed in 1959 to build a highway, an act of racism disguised under urban renewal as "progress."  A moving memoir of family life at a time very different from the present, this book chronicles the everyday lived experiences of Gibson’s large family ― her seven siblings, her crafty, college-educated mother, and her hard-working father ― and the friends, shop owners, church ladies, teachers, and others who made Mill Creek into a warm, tight-knit African-American community.  In Gibson’s words, "This memoir is about survival, as told from the viewpoint of a watchful young girl ― a collection of decidedly universal stories that chronicle the extraordinary lives of ordinary people."

Book up next ~ fiction 

A Summer of Surprises ~ by Judith Keim, 2020, fiction (Florida) ~ Jill Conroy is tricked by her sister into becoming the housekeeper and cook for the summer at Seashell Cottage where Greg Campbell and his nephew, Brody, have been hired to do maintenance projects on the house.  Annoyed at first, Jill soon realizes how wonderful it is to be away from her home in New York and the memories of her deceased, emotionally abusive husband.  The magic of the beach heals Jill enough for her to decide to move to Florida permanently to make a new life.  Her work at a summer camp and the promise of a job as a third-grade teacher in the fall make it seem as if her future is set, but a visit from her sister and her mother reveals secrets that surprise them all.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts Sunday Salon, a place for us to link up and share what we have been doing during the week.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Beginning ~ with the whole truth

Chapter 1
The Whole Truth
Most people don't realize it, but there are a lot of mysteries to solve in elementary school.  I'm only in the third grade,  but I've been solving mysteries for a really, really, really long time — one whole month.

Aven Green: Sleuthing Machine ~ by Dusti Bowling, illustrated by Gina Perry, 2021, children's chapter book, 9/10

Third-grader Aven Green has been solving mysteries for a whole month — cracking such cases as The Mystery of the Cranky Mom.  But when her teacher’s lunch bag disappears and her great-grandma’s dog goes missing, will she be able to tackle two cases at the same time?  Fortunately, since she was born without arms, all the “arm” cells were directed to her super-powered brain instead — at least, that's this clever detective's theory.  Surely Aven's sleuthing skills are up to the challenge.
The story of little third-grade Aven as a sleuthing machine follows a pair of earlier books about her.  Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017) begins with 13-year-old Aven explaining how she and her parents moved from Kansas to Arizona.  She was enrolled in a new school where nobody knew her.  She struggled to make new friends, but the kids can't seem to see past her missing arms.  Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus (2019) follows Aven to high school with 2,300 new kids to stare at her.

Here's the author with a couple of women without arms.  Jessica Cox is on the left, Dusti Bowling in the middle, and Letisha Wexstton on the right.  This article shares how the author decided to write about a girl with no arms.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts 
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Wednesday writing prompt ~ a novel idea

A novel idea

Click this link to a true story, which would make an interesting plot for a novel.  Let's come up with a title for a book where a woman discovers her son's bride is her long lost daughter.  Wow!  So here are some things we should include in the "plot" of our novel:

The reunion occurred right at the would-be spouses' wedding in Suzhou, Jiangsu province on March 31, according to Sohu News.  The shocking discovery was made after the woman noticed a birthmark on the bride's hand, which looked strikingly similar to that of her long-lost child.  Determined to uncover the truth, the woman mustered the courage to ask the bride's parents whether she was adopted.  After explaining her story and the identical birthmark, the bride's parents eventually confirmed that their child had been adopted.  Details were quickly ironed out and the bride confirmed that she was, indeed, the woman's long-lost biological daughter.  It turns out she went missing as a child and was picked up by her adoptive parents on the roadside some 20 years ago.

The wedding could have been called off at this point, but the woman also revealed that her son — her now-daughter's groom — was also adopted.  The wedding proceeded as planned, but the shocking twist is one detour their guests will never forget.  In photos that went viral on Chinese social media, the bride can be seen breaking down and hugging her long-lost mother tightly.  It's unknown how exactly the daughter went missing, but some are raising the possibility of human traffickers being the culprit.  It's not clear whether the woman's adopted son — now her son-in-law — will be searching for his own parents.

There you have a rough idea of some of the plot twists.  In my version of this story, the location would have to be the United States because it's what I know.  But think of the possibilities!
Feature Images via Sina News

Monday, May 17, 2021

Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer ~ by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Natasha Donovan, 2021, children's, 7/10

Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's first female engineer.  Her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.  Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross's journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for young women and Native Americans interested in engineering.  The narrative also highlights Cherokee values, including (1) gaining skills in all areas of life, (2) working cooperatively with others, (3) remaining humble when others recognize your talents, and (4) helping ensure equal education and opportunity for all.

Word of the Day #1

Métis / meɪˈtiː(s) / = indigenous peoples in Canada and parts of the United States who are of mixed Indigenous and European (primarily French) ancestry.

This page showing John Ross is my favorite part of the book.  I had not even noticed her last name was "Ross" when I put the book on reserve, but I definitely DO know about her great-great-grandfather.  Here's what that page says:
"In the hills of northeastern Oklahoma, Mary's Cherokee tribe provided education for everyone.  Her great-great grandfather, John Ross, had served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  He helped create a school that later became a state teacher's college, which Mary began attending at the age of sixteen."
The John Ross House is located near Rossville, Georgia, over the state line and maybe a couple of miles from the house where I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The town of Rossville was also named for him.

Here's a photo of the Chief John Ross Bridge, also known as the Market Street Bridge, connecting downtown Chattanooga to the North Shore.  The bridge is approximately where the Cherokee people left home on the Trail of Tears to trek to Oklahoma in the forced relocation during the 1830s.  "The term Trail of Tears invokes the collective suffering those people experienced, although it is most commonly used in reference to the removal experiences of the Southeast Indians generally and the Cherokee nation specifically."  By the way, that's Lookout Mountain in the distance on the left.

Word of the Day #2
trek /trek/ noun = a long arduous journey, especially one made on foot.
Mary Golda Ross's great-great grandfather is very well known in Chattanooga, as you can see.  The top photo shows the author with her book.  Click the links to read more about the history.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Beginning ~ with their ages

I am seventy years old.  I am astonished to be writing this, as doubtful of the truth of it as if I had just written, "I am a peacock."
October 30, 2010
The failing of an aging parent is one of those old stories that feels abrasively new to the person experiencing it.  At eighty-nine years of age, my father has begun, in his own words, to "lose it."

I'll Be Seeing You ~ by Elizabeth Berg, 2020, memoir

Elizabeth Berg’s father was an Army veteran who was a tough man in every way but one:  He showed a great deal of love and tenderness to his wife.  Berg describes her parents’ marriage as a romance that lasted for nearly seventy years; she grew up watching her father kiss her mother upon leaving home, and kiss her again the instant he came back.  His idea of when he should spend time away from her was never.

But then Berg’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents were forced to leave the home they loved and move into a facility that could offer them help.  It was time for the couple’s children to offer, to the best of their abilities, practical advice, emotional support, and direction — to, in effect, parent the people who had for so long parented them.  It was a hard transition, mitigated at least by flashes of humor and joy.  The mix of emotions on everyone’s part could make every day feel like walking through a minefield.  Then came redemption.

This memoir charts the passage from the anguish of loss to the understanding that even in the most fractious times, love can heal, transform, and lead to graceful — and grateful — acceptance.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Weird words

I bought an LED lamp to clip onto my headboard so that I could read in bed.  The weird words on the box show without a doubt that it was made in a country that does not speak English, though I have no idea which country.

Before you read my "translation" below, see if you can figure out what the words on the side and back of the box say.  The short paragraph on the side is bad enough, but what's on the back is totally ridiculous.

Words on the side of the box

Words on the back of the box

The key to figuring out what's what, for me, was that only ONE letter was strange on the side.  Notice the "G" has a funny mark over it.  That mark is called a "caron."  In English, "cggler" is not a word.  Neither are "tg" nor "tguch" nor "gr" — nor "Cgntains" nor "ng" at the bottom.

When I started trying to figure out what the "missing" letter should have been (in English), I could suddenly see it's the letter O.  Insert "o" into those weird words, and it makes sense:
"Uses less energy & cooler to the touch than CFL or incandescent bulbs. . . . Contains no mercury."
So I turned again to the back of the box and could almost read the whole thing, though two other letter were still wrong:
"This Tortable lamT has a Tolarized Tlug (one blade is wider than the other) as a safety feature to reduce the risk of electric shock.  This Tlug will fit in a Tolarized outlet only one way.  If the Tlug does not fit fully in the outlet, reDerse the Tlug.  If it still does not fit, contact a qualified electrician.  NeDer use with an extension cord unless Tlug can be fully inserted.  Do not alter the Tlug."
Can you see it now?  There are still two wrong letters — the capital T that hangs below the line and the capital D with a dot under it, but the rest wasn't that hard for me to figure out.  Replace the long T with a "p" and the capital D-dot with a "v" to get:
  • portable lamp
  • polarized plug
  • plug (several times)
  • polarized outlet
  • reverse
  • never

Wondrous Words

Deb Nance of Readerbuzz has written about how tricky it is to deal with British English words that sound weird to speakers of American English.  Her problem resonates with me.

While we're on the topic of words, think about gun-related words that we use daily.  Read this Patheos article about gun violence.  Words we choose matter.

Here's the link to Elza Reads, where people share links to their Wondrous Words Wednesday posts.  I expect mine will be the weirdest words this week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Two new books for my Kindle

Grammar for a Full Life: How the Ways We Shape a Sentence Can Limit or Enlarge Us ~ by Lawrence Weinstein, 2020, English language

Grammar is about much more than rules:  it’s about choices, too — since a thought can always be expressed correctly in multiple ways.  Weinstein reveals how our grammatical choices either stifle or boost our sense of agency in life, our creativity, our depth of connection to others, and our mindfulness.  He shows that certain tweaks to a person’s grammar can bring consequential changes in his or her fulfillment and well-being and describes some forty transformative moves that can be made with English punctuation and syntax.  You’ll learn why a greater use of active voice constructions builds assertive energy in us, and you’ll discover how — paradoxically — cutting back on the "intensifiers" (exclamation marks and words like really and absolutely) heightens our awareness of the world.

Table of Contents
  • Grammar to Take Life in Hand
  • Grammar for Creative Passivity
  • Grammar for Belonging
  • Grammar for Freedom
  • Grammar for Morale
  • Grammar for Mindfulness
  • Grammar for the End

Kiss My Asterisk: A Feisty Guide to Punctuation and Grammar ~ by Jenny Baranick, 2014, English language

Grammar has finally let its hair down!  Unlike uptight grammar books that overwhelm us with every single grammar rule, Kiss My Asterisk covers only the most important bits.  Its lessons, which are free of complicated grammar jargon, have been carefully selected to include today’s most common, noticeable errors — the ones that confuse our readers or make them wonder if we are, in fact, smarter than a fifth grader.  What is the proper use of an apostrophe?  When should an ellipsis be used instead of an em dash?  By spreading her remarkably user-friendly and hilarious approach to grammar, she hopes everyone will experience the satisfaction of a properly placed comma, a precisely used semicolon, and a correctly deployed en dash.

Monday, May 10, 2021

A wild Sunday around here

Forget my bear pun on Thursday.  We had a REAL bear in our area yesterday.  How would you like to see a wild bear in your yard?  But what do we expect when we take over their habitat?  The bear was probably looking for food.  The tree it climbed was in Richmond Heights, near the Galleria.  It was captured peacefully.  The bear had neighbors talking on NextDoor.  You can read all about it here and here:

"The state’s black bear management plan says there are an estimated 540 to 840 black bears in the state as of 2019, and that the bear population is growing."

Addendum 5/13/21

I got a notification that Teri Peterson had tagged me in the RevGal e-reader and found this:  "RevGal Writings . . . This week we have a wide variety of writing in our community.  First of all, Bonnie had a bear!"  Oops!  I failed to say that the photos are not MY photos, but I did say that the bear "was in our area."  Not in my yard, but within two or three miles of my retirement center (I live on the 6th floor of a ten-story building).  The bear was traversing the St. Louis suburbs, and the photos came from the neighborhood listserv.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Demolition north of the Crown Center

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 ~ from across the street ~ looking northwest

Saturday, May 1, 2021 ~ looking northeast ~ west section gone

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 ~ from the side entrance to Crown Center

Friday, May 7, 2021 ~ removing the rubble of the demolished building

My neighbor Sharon took this from her north-facing window of the Crown Center.

Added on Monday, May 10, 2021 ~ clearing the rubble will take a long, long time.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Beginning ~ with a serious conversation

"Oh, gosh, is that the time?  Sorry, I have to go," the man mumbled evasively, as he stood up and reached for his bag.

"What?" the woman said.

She glared with uncertainty.  She hadn't heard him say it was over.  But he had called her — his girlfriend of three years — to come out for a serious conversation . . . and now he had suddenly announced he was going to work in America.  He was to leave immediately — in a few hours.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold ~ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot, 2019, time travel fiction (Japan)
If you could go back, who would you want to meet?  In a small back alley of Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years.  Local legend says that this shop offers something else besides coffee — the chance to travel back in time.  Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in the hopes of making that journey.  But time travel isn't so simple, and there are rules that must be followed.  Most important, the trip can last only as long as it takes for the coffee to get cold.  This novel explores the age-old question:  What would you change if you could travel back in time?

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A bear splashing water ~ and maybe a chuckle

What’s a wet bear called?  A drizzly bear.
I can barely bear sharing such a silly pun.  (See what I did there?)

Word of the Day
pun / noun = joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.  Example:  "A calendar's days are numbered."
"Reading while sunbathing makes you well red."

"Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana."  Groucho Marx

"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."  Mark Twain

Clawdia says
she is "feline groovy."

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Editing Blooper of the Day

Someone wrote — in a published article — about a dog as the "newest edition to their family."  English words can be confusing.  It sounds like they were editing their family, rather than adding to it.

The two words "addition" and "edition" are homophones.  That means they sound the same, but the meanings are very different.  The dog was added to their family, so the correct word should have been "addition."  See more examples on the right ----->  Sometimes three words are homophones.  They sound alike, but they are spelled differently and mean three different things.  Here are some examples:
rays — raze — raise
there  they're — their
rite — write — right
peddle — petal — pedal

Tuesday, May 4, 2021


"Take a step towards an important goal, however small."  That's the suggestion for May 4th on the Meaningful May calendar.  I signed up to exercise together in a Zoom class, and it starts today.  Would you call this "a step towards an important goal"?  My goal is to stay as healthy as possible, even in my 80s.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Mulling mathematics on Monday

After telling you NINE is my favorite number, look what I found — a clock whose only numbers are 9s.  Thanks to my Facebook friend Jean, who shared it with friends.  Now I want a mathematician to explain to me the equation in 5th place with an exclamation mark following the square root of 9.  That never came up in my math classes.  All I've found by googling is that the exclamation mark is the "factorial operator."  I can see that it doubles the square root of 9, but how does it work?  Okay, I revised my question and got an answer:

Q:  What does a factorial operator do in math?
A:  Factorial, in mathematics, is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to a given positive integer and denoted by that integer and an exclamation point. Thus, factorial seven is written 7!, meaning 1 × 2 × 3 × 4 × 5 × 6 × 7.

So the square root of 9 equals 3.  The factorial of 3 means 1 × 2 × 3 = 6.  And 9 over 9 = 1.  So 6 - 1 = 5.  Yay, I got it!  The other numbers are pretty simple.

Sunday, May 2, 2021