Monday, January 31, 2022

Something to think about

To make this easier to read, click on this chart to enlarge it.
I learned to ask "who, what, when, where, why?" when
analyzing a novel, but it's a life skill we can use in lots of ways.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Blogiversary ~ what I've read, what I'm reading


I'm celebrating 15 years of blogging today, so there are 15 balloons up there.  (Yeah, count 'em!)  My first post on this blog was on January 30, 2007, which means I have now been blogging for a decade and a half.  I'm still having fun!

Two books I finished recently

The Titanic Sisters ~ by Patricia Falvey, 2021, historical fiction, 320 pages, rated 8/10

Delia Sweeney has always been unlike her older sister — fair and delicate compared to tall, statuesque Nora, whose hair is as dark as Donegal turf.  In other ways too, the sisters are leagues apart.  Nora is her mother’s darling, favored at every turn, and expected to marry into wealth.  Delia, constantly slighted, finds a measure of happiness helping her da on the farm.  The rest of the time, she reads about far-off places that seem sure to remain a fantasy — until the day a letter arrives from America.  A distant relative has provided the means for Delia and Nora to go to New York.  Delia will be a lowly maid in a modest household, while Nora will be governess for a well-to-do family.

In Queenstown, Cork, they board the Titanic, a majestic new ocean liner making its maiden voyage.  Any hope Delia carried that she and her sister might become closer during the trip soon vanishes.  For there are far greater perils to contend with as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic.  In the wake of that fateful journey, Delia makes an impulsive choice to take Nora’s place as governess.  Her decision sparks an adventure that leads her from Fifth Avenue to Dallas, Texas, where oilfields bring unimagined riches to some, despair to others.  Delia grows close to her vulnerable young charge, and to the girl’s father.  But her deception will have repercussions impossible to foresee, even as it brings happiness within reach for the first time.

This book counts for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2022 and also for my TBR 22 in '22 Challenge, since I bought it last year.  For the record, I kept reading to see what would happen, but it was confusing to read about two different sisters in the alternating chapters, but with one pretending to be the other.  Yeah, confusing and sometimes very frustrating.  I'm not likely to read other books by this author.

Squeeze Me ~ by Carl Hiaasen, 2020, mystery (Florida), 352 pages, 4/10

I won't read anything else by this author, either.  He used some version of the 4-letter F-word on what felt like every other page, trying to make everyone sound tough, I guess.  The main character, a woman in a man's job, is "so tough" that she's also a felon (though that wasn't really HER fault, ya know).  But the author's main reason for writing the book seems to have been to show how stupid a President of the United States was — an overweight president whose winter White House was in Florida.  It has a tiresome number of 4-letter words, along with the POTUS Pussies, a group of high society women who called themselves "Potussies" to sound less crude.  It's a waste of time.

What I'm reading

Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit ~ by Courtney Ellis, 2021, psychology, 213 pages

It’s time to get serious about playfulness.  When was the last time you felt really, truly happy?  If you’ve ever longed to leave your exhausting days and fretful nights behind, look no further.  Courtney Ellis is a whimsical storyteller who combines witty humor and engaging research with unfettered honesty.  You’ll discover there is almost nothing that playfulness cannot make a little bit better, a little bit easier, and a lot more fun.  Lift your mood, lighten your load, let go of your most serious self, and renew your spirit with the power of playfulness.

Word of the Day
Y'all'd've = triple contraction of "you all would have."  It's colloquial, used mostly in the South and in neighboring regions.  Example:  "We could've met y'all there, if y'all'd've just told us!"  (For those who wonder — no, I've never seen this "word" in print.)

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts Sunday Salon,
a place for us to link up and share what
we have read and done during this week.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Saturday stuff that's on my mind

What's this written note REALLY about?  Can you figure it out?

My mother used to make a delicious pineapple upside down cake.  This one, using bananas, looks very simple to make.

Eleanor Roosevelt was ahead of her time.  This makes me appreciate her more than ever.

Here are four of my friends and neighbors, all appropriately masked.  This photo of Iva and Toni behind Phil and Tomoko was taken by someone on the Crown Center staff.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Beginning ~ in a library, of course


Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford.  She sat at a low table staring at a chess board.

"Nora, dear, it's natural to worry about your future," said the librarian, Mrs. Elm, her eyes twinkling.

Mrs. Elm made her first move.  A knight hopping over the neat row of white pawns.  "Of course, you're going to be worried about the exams.  But you could be anything you want to be, Nora.  Think of all that possibility.  It's exciting."

The Midnight Library ~ by Matt Haig, 2020, fiction, 288 pages

Between life and death there is a library.  Up until now, Nora Seed's life has been full of misery and regret.  She feels she has let everyone down, including herself.  But things are about to change.  When she finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right.  The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently.  Each one contains a different life, a possible world in which she made different choices that played out in an infinite number of ways, affecting everyone she knew as well as many people she never met.

With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every decision she regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life.  But things aren't always what she imagined they'd be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.  Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question:  What is the best way to live?

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Photos of Chattanooga streetcars

Here's a streetcar on Market Street between 6th and 7th Streets in the 1940s in downtown Chattanooga.  When I was a very little girl, I rode those streetcars and buses (there's a bus behind the streetcar, followed by another streetcar, I think).  That first step up onto the streetcar was a real doozy for a child like me, kind of like an adult stepping up onto a table!  It helped that an adult was always with me to pull me up by one arm as I took that step.  Look at the woman in the street beside the streetcar for a comparison.  I think you can click to enlarge the photos.

This streetcar is on Georgia Avenue, near the courthouse.

I think that's the Electric Power Board building on the left, with J. C. Penney's in the middle behind the streetcar.  Oh, wait!  Now I see the Penney's sign on the corner of the white building.

Hmm, this could be Broad Street, a block over from Market Street.  It does seem to be wider.  But where?  I'm not sure if we're facing north or south.  Or maybe it's Market Street with no cars parked on either side.

Here are the 1913 Chattanooga streetcar routes.  Downtown is south of the Tennessee River.  The route at top left goes up Signal Mountain and the one at bottom left goes to Lookout Mountain, with the Incline Railway being the straight line up the side of the mountain.  Rossville is just south of where the route crosses over into Georgia on the right, with Chickamauga National Park (the battlefield) at bottom right, south of Fort Oglethorpe.  I see Dodds Avenue intersecting just above the state line, with Main Street (and East Main Street) passing near National Cemetery and meeting Dodds Avenue.

I have no idea where this is.  I wonder if the building with a flag is a school.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Library Loot ~ Jan. 26 to Feb. 1

Squeeze Me ~ by Carl Hiaasen, 2020, mystery (Florida), 352 pages

At the height of Palm Beach’s charity ball season, Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons, a prominent member of geriatric high society, suddenly vanishes during a swank gala.  Kiki Pew was a founding member of the Potussies, a group of women dedicated to supporting the President, who spends half the year at the “Winter White House” just down the road.  Meanwhile, Angie Armstrong, wildlife wrangler extraordinaire, is called to the island to deal with a monster-sized Burmese python that has taken residency in a tree.  But the President is focused on the disappearance of Kiki Pew.  Never one to miss an opportunity to play to his base, he immediately declares her a victim of rampaging immigrant hordes.  This, it turns out, is far from the truth, which now lies in the middle of the road, where a bizarre discovery brings the First Lady’s motorcade to a grinding halt.  Irreverent, ingenious, and uproariously entertaining, Squeeze Me perfectly captures the absurdity of our times.

I got this from my library, so I'll link this to Claire's Library Loot list.

Words from Colleen (and Snoopy)

Here are the first and last of Colleen's Thursday Thirteen.  Think of the words, look at the words, feel the words, and try different scrolling speeds for #13:

1.  The word “end” is in endure, but endure means not to end.
13.  If  you have to scroll, scroll HERE!

Sometimes, Snoopy, doing one thing is enough.  Yes, pondering Colleen's words today is a very good thing, and it makes me smile.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

I found a couple of humorous images

I've noticed giraffe photos more since reading West with Giraffes by Linda Rutledge (2021, historical fiction, 381 pages, that I rated 7/10).  This one tickled my funny bone.  I'd never thought about how a giraffe might try to hide, and I can't imagine saying, "This giraffe was looking OVER a tree."

Does anyone know if I can still get rolls of films (and slides) developed anywhere?  I've run across a few as I clean out boxes and stuff from my apartment.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Books bought, books read, book quoted

 Eight added to my Kindle

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread ~ by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, 2003, children's fantasy, 272 pages
Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea.  It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light.  And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish.  These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives.  What happens then?  As Kate DiCamillo would say:  Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

(See what Kate DiCamillo posted this week on Facebook by clicking HERE.)

The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth (The Irish Heart Series Book 1) ~ by Juliet Gauvin, 2014, fiction (Ireland), 349 pages

Elizabeth Lara built a perfect life as San Francisco’s top divorce attorney, but when she loses her great-aunt Mags, the woman who raised her, she boards a plane and leaves it all behind.  The Irish shores welcome her as she learns a shocking truth, kept secret for thirty-five years.  Devastated and now alone in the world, Beth tries to find peace in a beautiful cottage by Lough Rhiannon . . . but peace isn’t what fate had in mind.  Almost as soon as she arrives, Beth’s solitary retreat into the magic wilds of Ireland is interrupted by Connor Bannon.  A man with light brown hair, ice blue eyes, and a secret.  With the help of Mags’ letters, the colorful townspeople of Dingle, and Connor, Elizabeth might just find a way back to the girl she lost long ago and become the woman she always wanted to be.
The Storyteller of Casablanca ~ by Fiona Valpy, 2021, historical fiction, 305 pages

Morocco, 1941.  With France having fallen to Nazi occupation, twelve-year-old Josie has fled with her family to Casablanca, where they await safe passage to America.  Life here is as intense as the sun, every sight, smell and sound overwhelming to the senses in a city filled with extraordinary characters.  It’s a world away from the trouble back home — and Josie loves it.

Seventy years later, another new arrival in the intoxicating port city, Zoe, is struggling — with her marriage, her baby daughter, and her new life as an expat in an unfamiliar place.  But when she discovers a small wooden box and a diary from the 1940s beneath the floorboards of her daughter’s bedroom, Zoe enters the inner world of young Josie, who once looked out on the same view of the Atlantic Ocean, but who knew a very different Casablanca.

It’s not long before Zoe begins to see her adopted city through Josie’s eyes.  But can a new perspective help her turn tragedy into hope, and find the comfort she needs to heal her broken heart?

The Sister Joan Mysteries, Books 1-5 ~ by Veronica Black, 2021 (box set), cozy mysteries, 827 pages

  1. A Vow of Silence (Book 1, first published in 1990) ~ The Daughters of Compassion share a chilling secret they cannot confess:  Sister Sophia is dead.  Another nun is missing.  What’s going on with them?  It’s up to newcomer Sister Joan to uncover the truth.  She’s faced her own demons, but can she save her sisters from theirs?
  2. A Vow of Chastity (Book 2, first published in 1991) ~ Evil.  Temptation.  Mystery.  Dark doings are afoot in the sisters’ quiet corner of Cornwall.  A teenager vanishes and Sister Joan feels compelled to lead the search to find him.  But is it out of duty?  Or some other motive that is decidedly less pure of heart?
  3. A Vow of Sanctity (Book 3, first published in 1993) ~ Sister Joan heads to the shores of Loch Morag for a retreat.  But trouble has a way of finding her, even in the middle of nowhere.  After a storm, a body surfaces in the loch.  Who was he?  The villagers close ranks in the face of Joan’s questions.  But she won’t rest until she unearths the truth.
  4. A Vow of Obedience (Book 4, first published in 1993) ~ A teen girl vanishes from home in the night.  Days on, Sister Joan finds her body in the schoolhouse, dressed in wedding white.  A second young girl turns up strangled, and Joan realizes a killer is stalking the moors.  Can she catch up to him before more innocent victims die?
  5. A Vow of Penance (Book 5, first published in 1995) ~ When the rectory housekeeper is found dead, everyone assumes it’s suicide. But Sister Joan is not so sure. Then a John Doe turns up dead, mutilated — and his killing leads Sister Joan back to a much older crime. What if the key to this mystery lies buried twenty years in the past?
Books completed so far in 2022
  1. From the Dark We Rise ~ by Marion Kummerow, 2021, historical fiction (Germany), 281 pages, 7/10
  2. A Light in the Window ~ by Marion Kummerow, 2021, historical fiction (Germany), 280 pages, 6/10
  3. War Girl Lotte ~ by Marion Kummerow, 2017, historical fiction (Germany), 180 pages, 7/10
  4. Croissants and Corruption ~ by Danielle Collins, 2017, cozy mystery (Virginia), 164 pages, 8/10
  5. Mrs. Peachtree and the Eighth Avenue Cat ~ by Erica Silverman, illustrations by Ellen Beier, 1994, children's picture book, 32 pages, 8/10
  6. Caterpillar Kisses: Lessons My Kindergarten Class Taught Me About Life ~ by Christine Pisera Naman, 2005, anecdotes, 100 pages, 9/10
  7. West with Giraffes ~ by Linda Rutledge, 2021, historical fiction, 381 pages, 7/10
  8. Wish You Were Here ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2021, fiction, (New York and Galápagos), 325 pages, 9.5/10
  9. Chester's Way ~ by Kevin Henkes, 1988, children's picture book, 32 pages, 10/10
  10. The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread ~ by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, 2003, children's fantasy, 272 pages, 8/10
Here are my favorite quotes from Jodi Picoult's Wish You Were Here (#8 above):
  • "There is a profound difference between knowing your situation is temporary and not knowing what's coming next" (p. 74).
  • "Isolation, I think, is the worst thing in the world" (p. 78).
  • "In the grand scheme of things, losing dollars is nothing compared to losing time" (p. 104).
  • "There aren't clocks in hospital rooms, and your sleep keeps getting disturbed, and the lights never really go out fully, so it's hard to get a sense of time passing.  Sometimes I'm not sure if hours have gone by, or days" (p. 203).
  • "Okay . . . what if death wasn't the ending you've been told it is?  What if time is like fabric, a bolt that's so long you can't see where it starts or it ends? . . . Maybe at the moment a person dies, that life gets compressed so small and dense it's like a pinprick in the cloth.  It may be that at that point, you enter a new reality.  A new stitch in time, basically" (p. 270).

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts Sunday Salon,
a place for us to link up and share what
we have read and done during this week.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Driving in St. Louis

If you live in St Louis, you'll understand this.
If you've ever visited St. Louis, you'll understand this.
If you've never been to St. Louis, consider this your
Visitor's Guide to Driving in St. Louis.

1. There are 75 "unofficial neighborhoods" in the City of St. Louis. St. Louisans commonly give directions especially for restaurants to strangers based on these neighborhoods, which aren't marked on any maps that are handed out by the tourist board, the AAA. or MapQuest.
2. There are 54 school districts on the Missouri side alone each of which has their own school bus system with scheduled times to block traffic.
3. There are 91 official municipalities in St. Louis County. Each municipality has its own rules and regulations, and often their own police departments.
4. More importantly, most have their own snow removal contracts, so it's not uncommon to drive down a road in winter and have one block plowed, the next salted, the next piled with snow, and the last partially cleared by residents wanting to get out of their driveways.
5. Snow plowing is never a problem in the City of St. Louis. They plow nothing, and if the forecast calls for snow, they close everything. Except on "The Hill" (refer to #1 above), where each homeowner goes out to the street and shovels out one car-sized rectangle and then stands watch over it.
6. Any car parked longer than 4 hours in the city is considered a parts store.
7. The City of Ballwin actually proposed that drivers use connecting strip mall parking lots to get from place to place rather than drive on Manchester road to cut the traffic on Manchester. (And for good reason. There is a stoplight at every intersection on Manchester).
8. Laclede Station Road, McCausland, Lindbergh, Watson, Reavis Barracks Road, Fee Fee, McKnight, Airport Road, Midland, McKelvey, and Olive mysteriously change names as you cross intersections.
9. Gravois Road, Spoede, and Chouteau can only be pronounced by St. Louis natives. (Highway 40 is pronounced as "farty.")
10. A St. Louisan from South County has never been to North County, and vise versa. West County just has everything delivered.
11. No native St. Louisan knows that Lindbergh runs from South County to North County. And if you tell them, they will not believe you.
12. Lindbergh belongs to every neighborhood except Kirkwood, which had the nerve to creatively change the name to Kirkwood Road. (Which may be the reason for number 11.)
13. There are two interchanges to exit from Highway 40 onto Clayton Road and two for Big Bend. Stay alert, people!
14. If you need directions to O'Fallon, make sure to specify Illinois or Missouri. This is also true for Troy, Maryville, St. Charles, Springfield, and Columbia.
15. The Page Avenue extension and Airport expansion projects took over 20 years to get approved. St. Louisans lost track of how many political figures claimed them as their own ideas.
16. St. Louisans were aghast when the federal government required them to redo the highway signs to indicate that the federal highways went to cities in other states instead of local municipalities.
17. Drivers are starting to cut their OWN plates rather than go through the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles to get new tags. You can also purchase tags from dealers behind Quick Shops in the city. They are cheaper, the clerks are nicer, and the service is faster.
18. Lambert Field and St. Louis International Airport really are the same place. The East Terminal, however, is a different place.
19. Highway 270 is our daily version of the NASCAR circuit.
20. You can go all four directions on Highway 270: North and South in West County, East and West in South County, and East and West in North County. Confused? So are St. Louis drivers.
21. The outer belt is Highway 270, which turns into Highway 255 in South County. The inner belt is Highway 170. Highway 370 is an outer-outer belt. Highway 40 is the same as Interstate 64 (but only through the middle part of St. Louis). If you are listening to traffic reports and they are calling it 64, the traffic jam is in Illinois. If they are calling it 40, the traffic jam is in Missouri.
22. The morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 10:00 AM. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.
23. Never ever try to cross a bridge in St. Louis during rush hour, unless you have a sack lunch and a port-a-potty in the car.
24. "Yield" signs are for decoration only. No native St. Louisan will ever grasp the concept. (Actually, the drivers who are supposed to yield will not, and the drivers who are not supposed to yield will wait politely for the ones who are supposed to yield, so it all works out.)
25. If someone actually has their turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect or has been on for the last 17 miles.
26. Construction on Highways 40, 64, 70, 255, 270, 44, 55 and 170 is a way of life, and a permanent form of entertainment.
27. All blue-haired old ladies in Cadillacs driving on Olive west of 270 have the right of way.
28. If it snows or rains, stay home!
29. It is called a rolling stop at any stop sign intersection. Only native St. Louisans can do it just right.
30. In West County, 20 cars will go through a yellow light. Longest yellow lights I have ever seen. If you slow or stop on a yellow light, you will get rear-ended or someone will angrily sound their horn at you.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Beginning ~ with First Brother's dream

"No coincidence, no story," my a-ma recites, and that seems to settle everything, as it usually does, after First Brother finishes telling us about the dream he had last night.  I don't know how many times my mother has used this praising aphorism during the ten years I've been on this earth.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane ~ by Lisa See, 2017, historical fiction, 371 pages
Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.  Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea.  There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations.  Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.  In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people.

This is a history of the tea trade.  Lisa See shares the customs of a Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change.  Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence.  When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life, while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl.  Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter.  They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

I got this book from the library because Helen of Helen's Book Blog rated it 4.5 of 5 stars.  Here's her review.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Thursday Thoughts

The saying "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"
needs a fourth one: "Post no evil."
It would improve our current social media.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Short story by Kate DiCamillo — posted yesterday on Facebook

I was standing in the grocery store checkout line, and a small boy walked past me—once, twice, three times.
When he came back the fourth time, he was holding his mother’s hand.
“That’s her,” he said.
He pointed at me.
“Don’t point, honey,” said his mother.
And then to me she said, “My son’s class is reading The Tale of Despereaux.  He thinks that you’re the author of that book.”
“I’m the writer!” I said.
“Oh,” she said.  “How lovely.  Is it okay if he asks you a question?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
“Go ahead, honey,” she said to the boy.
This child looked up at me and said, “What I want to know is will it be okay?  Will the mouse be okay?”
“Yes,” I told him.
“Oh,” he said.  “Good.  Now I can relax my heart.”
“Yes,” I said again.   “You can.”
Oh, his heart!
Oh, my heart!
Oh, all our hearts!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Two trees — on TWOsday

A tree with a bear hug —

— and a tree with an owl's new perspective.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Focus for 2022

The first four words I saw were:
1.  connection
2.  gratitude
3.  change
4.  self care
What's your focus for 2022?

Monday Punday

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Pun for a snowy Sunday in St. Louis

Don't be obtuse.  Respect all angles.

Bits of Bonnie ~ Sunday Salon

"Great conversation starter," it says in the fine print above.  So let's start a conversation about book titles.  "If there was a book about you, what would the title be?"  I like the question because I already have an answer.  The title for a book about me would be Bits of Bonnie.  As a matter of fact, here's what I've already written about such a book:

"I keep a journal, sort of, in the sense that I collect my thoughts and memories in notebooks like this one.  If I ever write a memoir, I'll call it Bits of Bonnie."

Sprinkle before ironing

Do you know what this empty Coke bottle was used for back in the olden days?  I remember!  It was filled with water to sprinkle on clothes before ironing them.  There's been a discussion on Facebook about clothes sprinkled with water, then rolled up and put into the fridge before ironing them.  One woman on FB asked why anyone would dampen clothes and put them in the fridge.  The last time I looked, there were 6,885 replies to her question!  Yikes!  No, I didn't even try to read them all.

I'm so old that I know the answer, as did several others who may be close to my age.  (I'll be 82 in April.)  When I was young, we didn't have a steam iron and there was no such thing as polyester or permanent press.  Our cotton clothing came out of the washer very, very wrinkled, needing to be ironed.  Damp cotton clothes — especially cold, damp clothes — smoothed out nicely once we ironed them.  Someone on FB remembered a "sprinkler thingy," so I shared this photo.  It made sense back then, and it worked.

Wish You Were Here ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2021, fiction (New York and Galápagos), 325 pages

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track.  She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world.  She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client.  She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos — days before her thirtieth birthday.  Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news:  It’s all hands on deck at the hospital.  He has to stay behind.  You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste.  And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry.  Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic.  In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen.  Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone.  Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

In the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself — and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

Library Loot ~ I've been waiting for this new book from Jodi Picoult, and finally it was my turn on the waiting list at my library.  I got it on Thursday.  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire of The Captive Reader and Sharlene of Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Today's PUN-ishment

You've heard of Murphy's Law, but do you know what Cole's Law is?  Oh, come on!  Surely you remember.  It's made of chopped cabbage.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts Sunday Salon,
a place for us to link up and share what
we have read and done during this week.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Kitty contortions

It's Caturday, and I have a cat to share.  This cat is definitely NOT broken.  I assure you that cats can easily contort into such shapes.  Yes, really.  They are very flexible.  Very!  
But why a cat would want to sleep like that, I cannot say.

Clawdia has never gotten into the exact position that cat chose, but she does rest her head on her back paw to sleep on occasion.  Here's a photo of her doing just that back in 2018, proving how limber she is:

I don't think she looks very comfortable.  Do you?
I am not absolutely positive, but I think that is her
right hind leg under her nose.  What do you think?
She has her other front paw near the tip of her tail.

Friday, January 14, 2022

A beginning ~ and a mystery for me

I had not been teaching long before I realized that amid the ordinary hustle and bustle of each school day, blessed little events, magical tiny moments, and lovely little coincidences were happening around me.  I felt sure these happenings were heaven sent.  I felt in awe that I was the only one (well, the only one over four feet tall anyway) to witness them.)
Caterpillar Kisses: Lessons My Kindergarten Class Taught Me About Life ~ by Christine Pisera Naman, 2005, anecdotes, 100 pages

A former kindergarten teacher, Christine Pisera Naman watched over many classes of five-year-olds as they made their way through the school year and discovered new things about themselves and the world around them.  In Caterpillar Kisses, she turns her observations and insights into twelve delightful real-life vignettes, one for each month of the year.  The stories bring to life events that help these wiggly, unsure caterpillars grow into beautiful and confident butterflies.  Alternately laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, this book illustrates the good things that come from looking at life through the eyes of children.  It is perfect for anyone looking for the magic in everyday life.

This book was in a bag of books I brought home from Donna's apartment after she died.  As I pulled it out to add to the books I want to read, I discovered something tucked inside that makes me smile — now, after I figured out that this was apparently the last book my friend Donna was reading before she died.

What makes me think so?  There was a bookmark between pages 72 and 73, along with a prayer that had been printed out in 2018 and a receipt.  Usually a receipt means that's when I bought a book and stuck the receipt inside it as a bookmark.  So I looked at the date to see when Donna had bought this book.

The date on the receipt was 7/15/21.  But wait!  That's not possible.  I was very confused because Donna was in the hospital the whole month of July last year, at least until she was transferred to Hospice care three days before she died on July 24th.  She wasn't out shopping in July, for sure!  I looked closer and discovered it was a lunch receipt for a patient with the initials D. C.  And that patient had Donna's correct date of birth.  Yes, it was Donna Carey's meal on the Thursday nine days before she died.  She had ordered a fruit plate with fresh fruit and cottage cheese.  She must have been reading this book when her food tray was delivered that day, and she stuck the receipt inside.

I got a bit of a lump in my throat when I noticed the title of the chapter Donna bookmarked — "Field Trip."  She didn't finish the chapter before she went on a "field trip" unlike any we've ever been on . . . yet.

She may have started reading the book earlier, maybe in 2018, since she had this prayer stuck in the book with the bookmark and the receipt.  This is the page she had printed from Kenneth Carder's blog post of October 14, 2018.   This is what he wrote:
Prayer of Justice

I am part of a weekly study/discussion group.  We close each session with the following prayer, the author of which is anonymous:

Grant us, Lord God, a vision of your world as your love would have it:
  • a world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
  • a world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
  • a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect;
  • a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.