Sunday, July 31, 2022

Dear Diary


In going through some of the boxes of water-soaked books in my storage locker, I found my childhood diary.  My nickname was "Bitsy," as some of you may remember.  Inside the cover are these words:
To Bitsy from Aunt Dot Xmas 1950
So my first entry was Monday, January 1, 1951.  I was ten years old when I wrote this:
Wrote show "At Home."  Put it on in the yard.  Made 9c.  I got 3c.  Later we went to the picture show.  Saw Hopalong Cassidy & Bud Abbott & Lou Costello in double feature. 
Saw show at "Dixie" was added later above this first entry.  That was a movie theater in Chattanooga in the 1950s. We lived in a neighborhood full of children, and it appears I had some helpers to put on the "show" that day.  It also appears that we charged a penny each for the privilege of seeing us perform my little play, and I got a third of the money.  So whatever "show" we did, I'd say it took three of us to do it.

Notice that I was a writer early on, not only writing in my diary, but I also wrote a play.  And I was a musician, writing this on May 4, 1951, a week after turning eleven:
My first real concert.  At the Memorial Auditorium.  It was about the happiest moment of my life.  I played the fluteophone with the big band.  Saved program.
I misspelled "flutophone," but I had fun playing it.  Having that experience probably made learning clarinet easier when I got a clarinet for Christmas in 1952, also in the diary.
In early 1954, I wrote repeatedly that I took bassoon lessons.  I played clarinet for only a year before switching over to bassoon.  But my friend Ada and I played our clarinets together at least once, since the Friday, February 4, 1955 entry says:
Ada Rentfro and I played clarinet duet, "Sisters," at E.S.'s Chili Supper!  I changed words of song.  Had planned to sing.  Sore throats.
"E. S." would be East Side Junior High School, where we attended 7th, 8th, and 9th grades together.

Ada and I also sang "Sisters" on stage before our whole school that year, as I have mentioned before.  For that performance, I played an accordian while we sang in front of our peers.

I'm still writing, but now I'm writing on a blog.  A blog is a lot like a diary.  I guess I should mention books and reading, huh?

Liar and Spy ~ by Rebecca Stead, 2012, children's mystery (New York), 208 pages

The first day Georges (the S is silent) moves into a new Brooklyn apartment, he sees a sign taped to a door in the basement:  SPY CLUB MEETING — TODAY!  That’s how he meets his twelve-year-old neigh­bor Safer.  He and Safer quickly become allies — and fellow spies.  Their assignment was to track the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs.  But as Safer’s requests become more and more demanding, Georges starts to wonder:  how far is too far to go for your only friend?

This is the book I'll read next, after finishing Aunt Bessie Decides by Diana Xarissa (2014, cozy mystery, 238 pages), which I'm reading now.  Both of these are books that were in my friend Donna's Kindle, which I "inherited" after she died last year.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

A catbird for Caturday

This catbird was seen recently in University City, a town on the outskirts of St. Louis.  Clawdia Cat wonders why anyone would call this thing a "catbird."  She thinks it is a whole lot more BIRD than CAT.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Beginning ~ with hampers of food


Beginning

"I hope we have enough to eat," Hugh said anxiously from the driver's seat of his car.

Bessie laughed from the passenger seat.  "I'm sure we have plenty," she assured the young policeman.  "Doona, Grace, and I all brought hampers of food.  We have enough for a small army."

"Or one Hugh Watterson," Grace laughed from the backseat.

Aunt Bessie Decides ~ by Diana Xarissa, 2014, cozy mystery, 238 pages

Aunt Bessie decides that she and her closest friends should have an enjoyable night out.  Elizabeth Cubbon (known to almost everyone as Aunt Bessie) has made many friends over the lifetime that she’s lived in the village of Laxey, but few have been as close as the ones she’s made recently.  Bessie relied on Doona Moore, Hugh Watterson, and John Rockwell to help her through several recent murder investigations she’s found herself caught up in.  Now she wants to treat them all to an open-air performance of a Shakespearean play on the grounds of historic Peel Castle.

Aunt Bessie decides that it doesn’t much matter what show the troupe is performing as long as she and her friends can relax and have fun.  Two members have recently left the theatre company.  Now the troupe has thrown aside its usual repertoire in favor of a play written by one of their own.  When those two former members appear in the audience, though, someone decides to get rid of one of them for good.  Aunt Bessie decides to give the show another chance, but a second performance almost ends in a second tragedy.  With all of the suspects blaming one another, and several of them turning up on the doorstep of Bessie’s cottage, it’s time for Bessie to decide to solve this murder herself.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

St. Louis flooding

Our rain storm came from the "wrong" direction in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, which meant it managed to come in through a hole somewhere in my building (they can't find the leak).  By wrong direction, I mean that only when the wind blows rain at my building from the EAST does it find that hole and come down the wall of the stairwell next to my kitchen.  From there it comes through the wall into my kitchen.  That's part of the reason they are moving us to a new building (which is being constructed now) and then demolishing my building.  So in the wee hours yesterday, a flood alert on my iPhone woke me up and I went into the kitchen (probably to feed Clawdia Cat) and stepped into a big pool of water.  MY flooding was inside my sixth floor apartment!  But also, my flooding was INSIDE my storage unit a couple of miles away from here.  It's a storage unit where I have boxes of BOOKS.  Yes, they're water damaged.  Otherwise, I'm okay.

The bad part is this:  "More rain could hit Missouri, and Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia could also all see dangerous flooding in the coming days."  I found this quote (and the chart above) HERE.  My children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are all in Tennessee.  Unfortunately, rain is heading in that direction.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

What I'm reading now

Regarding Anna ~ by Florence Osmund, 2015, fiction, 272 pages

After her parents die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the basement of their home, Grace Lindroth discovers a box in their attic that contains enough suspicious items to cause her to believe that the people she had called Mom and Dad her whole life may not have been her real parents.  As she searches for answers, Grace becomes certain that Anna Vargas, who once owned a boardinghouse, was her real mother.  The lies and deceit she unearths in her pursuit of the truth expose her to people with questionable morals and values and cause her to distrust just about everyone, but heighten her determination to uncover what she believes is essential for her to go on with her life.

Monday, July 25, 2022

The world of plants

I just read somewhere that, in reality, plants are actually farming us.  How do they do that?  By giving us oxygen daily, until we eventually decompose so they can consume us.  It makes sense, but click here to see a dozen houseplants that are good for us.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

It's Clawdia's Gotcha Day!




When I got Clawdia in 2015, the vet estimated she was about six years old.  That means she is about thirteen years old now.

Not knowing the day she was born means that we celebrate her Gotcha Day, instead.  That's today, the anniversary of the day I got her.
   
This chart says that would be 68 years old in human years.  Find "Senior" cat, line 13.

This photo shows Clawdia visiting her other best friend, Donna.  Best friend besides me, I mean.  This was in 2020, when they had to visit through the window, with me six feet away from Donna at the other end of that leash.  Clawdia didn't get to visit Donna even through a window screen last year because Donna was in the hospital, dying the next day.  Clawdia has other friends, but she has never stayed overnight with them, as she stayed with Donna whenever I went out of town or was in the hospital.

I think this must be a motto cats live by:  "Live every day like it's Caturday."  Happy Caturday to cats everywhere!  By the way, did you notice Clawdia's Gotcha Day falls on a Caturday this year?

But especially you, Clawdia!  Happy Gotcha Day, pretty girl!  Want some treats?

Friday, July 22, 2022

Beginning ~ with a paradox

Beginning
"The paradox of a crucified savior lies at the heart of the Christian story.  That paradox was particularly evident in the first century when crucifixion was recognized as the particular form of execution reserved by the Roman Empire for insurrectionists and rebels.  It was a public spectacle accompanied by torture and shame — one of the most humiliating and painful deaths ever devised by human beings" (p. 1).
The Cross and the Lynching Tree ~ by James H. Cone, 2011, theology, 224 pages

The cross and the lynching tree are separated by nearly 2,000 years.  One symbolizes Christian faith; the other is the perfect symbol of black oppression in America.  Though both represent death, one denotes hope, while the other signifies the negation of that message by white supremacy.

Theologian James H. Cone (1938-2018) explores these two emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community and their interconnection in the history of black folk.  Both represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning.

My church book club is reading this for their meeting in August.  I have not attended book club meetings in a long time, partly because of the pandemic.  This time, they are reading a book I checked out of my library a few years ago and never found time to read before it was due.  I'll try again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Coincidences

Word of the Day = Bassoon
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which plays in the tenor and bass ranges.  It is composed of six pieces, and is usually made of wood.  It is known for its distinctive tone color, wide range, versatility, and virtuosity.

Interesting Bassoon Facts:  The bassoon is known for its wide range, distinctive tone, and warm sound.  A musician who plays the bassoon is referred to as a bassoonist.  The word bassoon is derived from the French word basson and the Italian word bassone.
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie Mystery, Book 2) ~ by Alexander McCall Smith, 2005, mystery (Scotland), 272 pages, 9/10

I told you recently that this book wasn't "pulling me in."  So I set it aside, finished another book, then picked up this one again.  I know you are wondering what finally grabbed me:
"Jamie was a musician, a bassoonist who supplemented his earnings as a member of a chamber orchestra with the proceeds of teaching.  His pupils were mostly teenagers" (p. 17).
It was that bassoon!  The fascinating thing for me is that I actually played the bassoon in concert band, orchestra, and the Chattanooga Youth Symphony during my junior high and senior high school years.  I also taught another student to play the bassoon, when we were both in high school.  After all, I'd been playing for a few years by then.  Unlike the professional musician in the book, however, I didn't get paid.

That's me holding my bassoon and wearing our high school uniform.  So I could definitely relate to the book's character and "hear" the sounds I was reading about in this book.  I simply had to reach page 17, the second page in the second chapter, to really get into this book.  A big part of the book has to do with coincidences, and what a coincidence that bassoonist was for me.  Read the book's description here, where I first wrote about it.  The second coincidence (and third) are about Isabel Dalhousie, the main character of the series:
"Isabel had studied philosophy and had a part-time job as general editor of the Review of Applied Ethics" (p. 7).
Notice that she's a philosopher, who is now an editor.  She does a lot of philosophizing throughout the book.  I majored in Philosophy and Religion for my first degree (along with English Language and Literature, making it a double major), and I later edited two in-house publications.  As a lover of language and literature, I read a lot and I blog a lot — it's editing, too, you know.  So there you have it; I relate to two of the main characters in all kinds of ways.  Well, three:  bassoon, philosophy, and being an editor.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Musing about blogs

"A blog is to a writer what a canvas is to an artist."  Colleen Redman has that at the top of her Loose Leaf Notes blog.  I agree with her whole-heartedly.  She and I have never met in person, though we've both been blogging for many years and leaving comments for each other.  Even though I've never met her in person, she is an old friend I've known for years.  See what I have at the bottom on the sidebar on the right:
You might be a book blogger if ...
... you've never met some of your closest friends.
I like this recent photo of her among the blooms on that tree.  Go read some of her poetry on her blog by clicking here:  Loose Leaf Notes.  Check out her books, if you like poetry.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

What's your favorite ice cream?



Today is National Ice Cream Day 2022 in the United States.  It is on the third Sunday of July, which is National Ice Cream month.  So tell me, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?
I'm still reading the memoirs by Russell Baker, but so far the Alexander McCall Smith mystery I wrote about yesterday isn't pulling me in.  Maybe it's just the wrong time for it.

Sunday Salon
is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Clawdia at play

Clawdia is getting older, but she still knows how to play.  On page 141 of Happy Now by Courtney Ellis, I found this discussion question:  "Who in your life — perhaps a person, perhaps a pet — can you gift with ten minutes of playtime?"  I decided that I could let Clawdia chase the red dot, so I stopped reading and picked up her laser light.

Clawdia chased that red "bug" for maybe ten minutes, sat and watched it continue to zig-zag around her while she rested a few minutes (she's an elderly cat now).

Then she chased that silly dot for another five minutes.  It turned out that watching my cat enjoy herself was fun for me, too.

The next time Clawdia "yells" from the door, "Let's go for another walk in the hall," maybe I should just grab the laser and let her chase the dot again.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Beginning ~ with a man in a tweed overcoat

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie Mystery, Book 2) ~ by Alexander McCall Smith, 2005, mystery (Scotland), 272 pages
Beginning ===> The man in the brown Harris tweed overcoat  double-breasted with three small leather-covered buttons on the cuffs made his way slowly along the street that led down the spine of Edinburgh.  He was aware of the seagulls which had drifted in from the shore and which were swooping down onto the cobblestones, picking up fragments dropped by somebody who had been careless with a fish.
The irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie gets caught up in a highly unusual affair of the heart.  When Isabel is asked to cover for vacationing Cat at her delicatessen, Isabel meets a man with a most interesting problem.  He recently had a heart transplant and is suddenly haunted by memories of events that never happened to him.  The situation piques her insatiable curiosity:  Could the memories be connected with the donor’s demise?  Naturally, Isabel’s friend Jamie thinks it is none of Isabel’s business.

Meanwhile, Grace, Isabel’s housekeeper, has become infatuated with a man at her spiritualist meeting, and Cat brings home an Italian lothario.  That makes for some particularly tricky problems  both practical and philosophical for Isabel to unravel in this enormously engaging and highly unusual mystery.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Reading ruminations and recycling

Ruminating on some quotes

Fresh Scars
 ~ by Donna Mumma, 2021, fiction (Florida), 305 pages, 8/10

  • "I must finish this," she said the words aloud, because she was an auditory learner, and things stuck better with her if she heard them" (p. 57).
I stopped reading to ponder this because I am a visual learner.  I took copious notes in my college classes because I needed to SEE the words on the page to remember what the professor was saying.  It's a good thing I could write rapidly!
  • "Ivy in her cheerleading uniform. ... Asia in her band uniform playing her flute" (p. 104).
This is a good description of the differences in these sisters.  I was the sister in the band, making music.
  • "How did you end up in Tennessee?"  "I wanted to live in the mountains" (p. 107). 
I lived in the mountains — actually, I lived ON a mountain near Chattanooga.

Recycling

Here's some plastic that can be recycled by taking it back to the store, at least here in the St. Louis area:
  • grocery and retail bags
  • clean produce and bread bags
  • wrap from toilet paper
  • wrap from cases of water
  • wrap from paper towels
  • newspaper sleeves
  • clean zip-top food storage bags
  • bubble-wrap ~ deflated
  • air packing pillows ~ deflated
  • dry cleaning bags

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The words they are a-changing

As Bob Dylan said, "The times they are a-changing."  I'm saying that our words are changing, too.  My pet peeve is that celebrities are no longer stunning.  Oh, no!  Now celebrities just stun.  There's no object in that sentence, and that's what stuns me.

Here's a chart showing how we use verbs in the English language.  Verbs that need an object are called "transitive verbs"; verbs that don't have an object are called "intransitive verbs."  For example, nobody says, "I bought."  We'd be waiting for them to finish the sentence, wondering, "Bought what?"

In my Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, published in 1991, stun is shown as a "vt" = "verb transitive."  In the Tenth edition, published in 2002, stun is still shown as a "vt."  Now it's 20 years later.  I don't have an updated version, but I can find it online.  The latest (Eleventh) edition, published in 2020, has the word verb standing there all alone.  It is no longer labeled "vt" or "vi."

In the olden days (my days), I guess I'd think of someone using a stun gun to stun someone.  But there's an object in that sentence:  "someone."  We didn't simply stun.  We could be stunned by something, or we could think a thing is stunning.  But we didn't stun without an object.

Word of the Day #1
stun /stən / verb = (1)  knock unconscious or into a dazed or semiconscious state.  Example:  "The man was stunned by a blow to the head."  (2) astonish or shock (someone) so that they are temporarily unable to react.  Example:  "The community was stunned by the tragedy."
Word of the Day #2
stun gun /ˈstən ˌɡən / noun = a device used to immobilize an attacker without causing serious injury, typically by administering an electric shock.
Now I've run into another problem.  What's the difference between a stun gun and a taser gun?  I'm out of my element here, and we'll have to study this chart.  Click to enlarge the illustration.

Word of the Day #3
ce·leb·ri·ty / səˈlebrədē / noun = a famous person; the state of being well known.  Example:  "He's a celebrity chef."
Let me get this straight.  It seems that a celebrity is someone who is well known, and she is well known because she's a celebrity.  My mind is spinning.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Two points of view

I just discovered two emails, one TO me and the other FROM me.  A friend sent me this photo a few minutes ago, but before I got to it, Clawdia had already discovered the email and replied to it (using MY email).  I couldn't believe what she said to our friend:
Bonnie is busy reading a book or something, so I'll answer your email.  This is very true, and I'll try to make sure Bonnie gets the message.  Yes, the WHOLE message, not just the email.
~~~ Clawdia      >^. .^<
Cheeky, isn't she?

Word of the Day
cheek·y /ˈCHēkē / adjective (British) = impudent or irreverent, typically in an endearing or amusing way.  Example:  "Clawdia isn't usually so cheeky."

Monday, July 11, 2022

Monday Musing ~ on the other hand

Musing about a nightmare
Yesterday, I tried to hang onto the nightmare that woke me up, so I could write about it.  I was saying to someone, "I can't right now because I need to find my keys."  I'm an old lady who tends to lose things these days, and I needed those keys so I could move my car before I forgot where the car was parked.  Yeah, I no longer have a car, but I did still have one in my dream.  Anyway, as I said those words, I raised my hands in frustration.  And right there in my hand were the keys!  Yep, I couldn't find my keys because my hand had been wrapped around them.  It was a nightmare, I tell you!  An old lady's nightmare.  LOL.

Musing about a lamp

During the night, a very loud CRACK woke me.  I discovered that my clip-on LED light had fallen.  The plastic clip had broken, and the whole thing fell with a clatter from the bookcase beside my bed.  This time, I decided, I'd buy a different brand because I had had THIS one barely over a year.  I was ready to throw the thing away, when it occurred to me to just break off the rest of the sharp plastic and loop the cord around the corner of the shelving.  It is now hanging haphazardly from an upper shelf.  Not only is this a throw-away when it burns out (because the light can't be replaced), but it was still working when it fell onto my floor.  The plastic clip is so flimsy, I could break off the remnant pieces with a couple of pliers, and I'm an old lady without much strength in my hands.  Hmm, didn't I just mention being an old lady?

Musing about a flower
This photo of a lotus flower was taken by Josh Peck in a local park and posted on Nextdoor.  Now that I cannot get out and go exploring around the neighborhood as I once did, it's nice to see photos like this online thanks to my neighbors, even ones I've never met.  Thank you, neighbor!

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Reading ruminations

But first, a night photo of St. Louis.  A young man named Alexander Johnson used a drone to get this shot and posted it on Nextdoor's News Feed (our neighborhood app).  Isn't it beautiful?  Look carefully, and you can see the Arch on the horizon.

Quotes and ruminations

The Virtues of Aging ~ by Jimmy Carter, 1998, memoir, 160 pages, 10/10
  • "I'm a morning person, and when doing office work or writing, I get up very early and put in two or three hours of my most productive work before breakfast time" (p. 74).
    This makes me laugh.  I myself an a night owl in an early bird world. 
  • "With reasonably good health, there are two crucial factors in how happy or successful an older person is:  (1)  having a purpose in life and (2) maintaining quality relationships with others" (pp. 60-61).
  • My purpose in life hasn't changed, in that I always try to help others around me.  Living in a senior retirement center means I've had a chance to develop (and maintain) friendships with lots of other folks my age.  The down side is that they keep dying!  Yeah, we can expect that here, but I'm very glad I've gotten to know these people.  More keep moving in as others leave to nursing home or to live with family.  So I am making new friends, while keeping the old friends, many of whom I've known for decades.
Reading, finally

Fresh Scars ~ by Donna Mumma, 2021, fiction (Florida), 305 pages

I posted the beginning lines of this book back in February, but I never got around to reading it.  Asia Butler and her sister, Ivy Butler Morelli, have not spoken in fifteen years because the two endured brutal emotional abuse from their mother, Veronica, and want only to forget the past — and each other.  Click the title link above, if you want to read more about the plot.  What I've read so far (two chapters) has grabbed my attention, so I think I'll just post this and go read more of it.