Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Two books I'm reading, finally

No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution ~ by John Robbins, 2012, collection of essays, 208 pages

With words like food additives and GMOs buzzing around, it's hard to know what's best to eat.  Robbins gathered and updated articles from his Huffington Post column along with newer material on the food revolution.  You have to know food to eat food, but what happens when food companies leave some facts out?  With commentaries on what we should and shouldn’t eat (and why), Robbins tells us about his undercover investigations of feedlots and slaughterhouse and gives us a look into the importance of working for a more compassionate and environmentally responsible world.

Dubliners ~ by James Joyce, 1914, short story collection, 174 pages

Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914.  It depicts Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century, written when Irish nationalism was at its peak.  They center on Joyce's idea of an epiphany, a moment where a character experiences a life-changing self-understanding or illumination.

Though he's now considered Ireland’s greatest author and one of the most influential voices in modern literature, it took nine years for James Joyce to find a publisher for this debut volume.  Now it is regarded as one of the finest story collections in the English language.

(Different editions have different numbers of pages, but at least two are free for Kindle.)

Monday, January 30, 2023

16 years of blogging

Today is my blogiversary.  Here's the definition, using several variations that I found online:  A blogiversary is a term used to designate the anniversary of a blog.  It is my blog birthday, the yearly anniversary of my blog.  I started blogging on January 30, 2007.  That's 16 years now, and I'm still going strong.  Sweet?  Hmm, I don't know about that.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday Salon ~ what I'm reading now

So please be quiet.  Oh, wait!  I'm supposed to post what I'm reading now.

  • So You Want to Write: How to Master the Craft of Writing Fiction and Memoir (2nd edition) ~ by Marge Piercy and Ira Wood, 2001, 2010, writing, 330 pages (info HERE).
  • A History of the World in 100 Objects ~ by Neil MacGregor, 2010, history, 736 pages (info HERE).
  • A Love Attempt ~ by Morhaf Al Achkar, 2021, self-help, 122 pages (info HERE).
  • The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times ~ by Michelle Obama, 2022, self-help, 336 pages (info HERE).
Here's one quote from The Light We Carry that I want to remember.  Michelle Obama had written that the difficult problems many of us work hard to solve will always be there
"So, in the meantime . . . Find one thing you can actively complete . . .  Maybe you spend an afternoon wallpapering your bathroom, or baking bread, or doing nail art, or making jewelry.  It could be two hours spent meticulously producing your mom's fried chicken recipe, or ten hours building a miniature replica of Notre Dame Cathedral in your basement.  Allow yourself the gift of absorption" (p. 38).

So what absorbs YOU?  Michelle Obama loves knitting (this photo is from page 32 of her book).  I enjoy getting lost in writing (notice the book pictured above).  I used to write book reviews for the Chattanooga Times newspaper, was published nationally in Baby Talk magazine in the 1960s, and now blog about books right here.  I'm a reader and a writer, even back when I wrote for the school paper and edited two in-house publications.

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Coal Miner's Daughter ~ original 1976 version

Coal Miner's Daughter ~ by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey, 1976, memoir, 226 pages

Loretta Lynn shared her astonishing journey to become one of the original queens of country music.  She grew up dirt poor in the mountains of Kentucky, was married at thirteen years old, and became a mother soon after.

When she was 24, her husband (Doo) gave her a guitar as an anniversary present.  She soon began penning songs and singing in front of honky-tonk audiences.  Through years of hard work, talent, and true grit, she made her way to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, where she eventually secured her place in country music history.

Her prolific songwriting made her the first woman to receive a gold record in country music, and she was named the first female Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association.  In this memoir, she shared the highs and lows on her road to success.

I'm not into country music, but this memoir sounded good.  So I put it on reserve at my library.  Here's some information I found on Wikipedia:  Loretta Lynn was an American country music singer and songwriter.  In a career spanning six decades, she released multiple gold albums.  She had numerous hits such as:
  • I'm a Honky Tonk Girl
  • Don't Come Home A-Drinkin'
  • One's on the Way
  • Coal Miner's Daughter
She was born on April 14, 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky; and she died on October 4, 2022 in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.  She was married to Oliver Lynn from 1948 until he died in 1996 and had six children.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Beginning ~ with a cane for balance

Beginning = "At some point when I was a child, my father started using a cane to keep himself balanced when he walked." ~ from The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama, 2022, self-help, 336 pages.  Click the title for what I wrote about the book in my Sunday post a couple of weeks ago.  I've been reading it so it can go back to the library quickly for others on the waiting list.  I thought of the cane I used in 2012 and the one I use now.

I've started taking a cane with me when I leave the apartment, just to help me stay steady and not fall.  This old photo shows my great-grandson Jaxon (age 2 at that time) with his parents.  Jaxon was showing us that he knew how a cane is to be used, though I'd say it was a bit large for him, wouldn't you?  A friend of mine borrowed that wooden cane and hasn't given it back, though I have never seen her use it.  So I've been using Donna's old cane instead.

All that musing, and I have still read only the first few lines of this book!  I'm chastising myself:  Go read, girl, and quite getting sidetracked.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Thinking about a lot of things

1.  Do you remember the Coexist bumper stickers?  I had one on the bumper of my car.
  • Coexist = Islam                               \
  • cOexist = peace                                 \
  • coExist = male and female                  \
  • coeXist = Judaism                                  What does each letter represent?
  • coexIst = Bahai religion                       /
  • coexiSt = Taoism/Confucianism        /
  • coexisT = Christianity                     /
2.  "If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.  You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree."  Avi posted this quote from Michael Crichton HERE.

3.  I read history and historical fiction both.  Do you?  One book of historical fiction that I read recently and rated 10/10 was this one:  The Lighthouse Sisters ~ by Gill Thompson, 2022, historical fiction, 439 pages.  Click the title for info.

4.  I found a book of history on my Kindle, still unread, even though I wrote about it on my blog a couple of years ago.  I guess I was overwhelmed by the 736 pages.  What's in it?  It answers questions like these:

5.  When did people first start to play music?  Where were the first cities?  When were cows domesticated, and why do we feed their milk to our children?  Who developed math?  Who invented money?  When did people first start to wear jewelry?

6.  Here's the book, which I should just read in short bites: 
A History of the World in 100 Objects ~ by Neil MacGregor, 2010, history, 736 pages.  Read what I've already shared about it HERE.

7.  On Tuesday evening, there was an 80% chance of getting 4.75" of snow overnight.  I went to bed wondering if the Café would be closed on Wednesday, though I had made no plans to eat there with friends the next day.

8.  At 11:22 pm on Tuesday (when I was already in bed reading), my phone notified me that snow was expected to start at my location at 11:37 pm.  So did it snow?  At 11:37 pm, it looked to me like rain hitting the puddles.  However, snow was on the ground and covering the cars when I peeked out the window in the middle of the night.

9.  So how much was on the ground on Wednesday?  At 9:45 am, my weather app said we had had 2.75" of snow, with only 0.1" expected in the next 24 hours.  Not much, after all.  By then, the parking lot and sidewalks had been cleared, and snow was sliding off the cars in the parking lot.

10.  One of my friends has aphasia following a stroke, so I want to understand it better.  Here's what the image says, in case you can't read it:
  • Inability to find the right word
  • Use of made-up words
  • Trouble understanding speech and written language
  • Talking in short, one-word sentences
  • Repetitive language
  • Failure to realize writing and speaking errors

I noticed the cartoon cloud behind Thursday Thoughts below, representing what someone is thinking.  It reminded me of the phrase "having your head in the clouds."  

12.  We laugh at someone with his "head in the clouds," but I googled and found that it's a sign of creativity.  Neuroscientific research supports the idea that a creative person often has his head in the clouds, as "daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity."

13.  I was downstairs in the lobby checking my mail when an ambulance arrived, so I sat down to look over junk mail and wait with three others.  It turned out to be a resident who'd fallen on the sidewalk outside earlier in the day.  It was only later that she realized she needed to go to the emergency room.  I don't know whether she was kept overnight or not.  Living in a building full of seniors means seeing ambulances too often.

I read in a "news" item online that, due to the rising popularity of vegan or plant-based lifestyles, dairy milk is becoming less likely to make it onto grocery lists.  Hmm, and I just mentioned feeding cow's milk to our children, up there in #5.

15.  How to Unsend an iMessage ~ read all about it HERE from Reader's Digest.  You must be running at least iOS 16 to do it.  Older operating systems are not compatible with this feature.

16.  I guess that's enough for today.  I think I'll go read something, maybe A History of the World in 100 Objects (see #6).

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Wednesday Workout

Silver Sneakers
is available to us seniors (65+) at no cost.  Since I have no car to get to a gym, I like the YouTube videos to use at home.  Here is one designed to "Unlock Your Flexibility and Mobility."  You'll have to click on the link to go to YouTube.

I also walk every day, including a walk to the other end of my hall and back with Clawdia several times, even on days when I've been out walking in the neighborhood.  Why do that?  Because she's stuck in the apartment all day and wants out.  My other exercising is reading and writing, which is exercise for my brain.  So what are you reading today?

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Two waterfalls

I have been comparing waterfalls with Helen of Helen's Book Blog.  She visited New York's Taughannock Falls recently (photo above), and I visited Tennessee's Fall Creek Falls many times when I was younger (photo below).

Here are the statistics we found:
  1. Taughannock Falls = 215 feet, the tallest single drop waterfall east of the Rockies.
  2. Fall Creek Falls = 256 feet, one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States.
Both of these waterfalls are impressive.  You can find more information on the websites of Taughannock Falls State Park and Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Bonus third waterfall

Angel Falls in southeastern Venezuela drops 3,212 feet and is 500 feet wide at the base of a flat-topped plateau called Devils Mountain.  Because a dense jungle surrounds the falls, they are best seen from the air.  Helen, this one dwarfs our two little waterfalls!

Monday, January 23, 2023

Monday Musing

The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society ~ by Jürgen Habermas, 1985, social philosophy, 465 pages

The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 2: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason ~ by Jürgen Habermas, 1985, social philosophy, 457 pages

This two-volume book by Habermas continues his project of finding a way to ground "the social sciences in a theory of language," which had been set out in On the Logic of the Social Sciences (see that book below).

The Times Literary Supplement says this "is a major contribution to contemporary social theory.  Not only does it provide a compelling critique of some of the main perspectives in 20th century philosophy and social science, but it also presents a systematic synthesis of the many themes which have preoccupied Habermas for thirty years."

His theory of communicative action rests on the idea that social order ultimately depends on the capacity of actors to recognize the intersubjective validity of the different claims on which social cooperation depends.

On the Logic of the Social Sciences
~ by Jürgen Habermas, 1970, translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen and Jerry A. Stark, 1988, social philosophy, 220 pages

Habermas presents his views on the nature of the social sciences and their distinctive methodology and concerns.  He examines the traditional division between the natural sciences and the social sciences; the characteristics of social action and the implications of theories of language for social enquiry; and the nature, tasks, and limitations of hermeneutics.  Habermas highlights the distinctive characteristics of the social sciences and outlines the nature of critical theory today.

Word of the Day

her·me·neu·tics/ˌhərməˈno͞odiks / noun = theory of interpretation; the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of literary texts.

My thoughts —
I studied hermeneutics in the mid-1980s, and I taught communication skills at a college.  So I was hooked when I read this in Being Authentic, Morhaf Al Achkar's memoir:
"Habermas is probably one of the most sophisticated philosophers of our time. ... He's been my favorite philosopher.  As I write these words, I have three books on my desk:  Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, and Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action" (p. 104).
I decided I want to read more of Habermas's social philosophy.  The third book is the shortest, so I ordered that one.  I studied Kant and Hegel in college and took classes in phenomenology and logic.  When the book arrives, I'm ready to study Habermas and whatever I can learn about him from Wikipedia.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Chinese New Year and a new book

The Chinese Lunar New Year begins today, marking the end of the Year of the Tiger, and the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit.

Since I was born in the Year of the Dragon, I always look to see what's up for us dragons:
"Help those in need always, 
and watch abundance as well
as generosity flow your way."

The twelve zodiac animals are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.  Do you know your zodiac sign?

What have you read lately that you enjoyed?

I have just finished two cozies.  The second was awful, so I won't finish the series.

A Vow of Silence ~ by Veronica Black, 1990, cozy mystery, 175 pages, 8/10

The Daughters of Compassion share a chilling secret they cannot confess:  Sister Sophia is dead.  Another nun is missing.  And a mysterious last letter from a dying nun is sent to the prioress.  What’s going on with them?  It’s up to newcomer Sister Joan to uncover the truth.  Having faced her own demons, can she save the other sisters from theirs?

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Attempting to be a loving person

A Love Attempt ~ by Morhaf Al Achkar, 2021, self-help, 122 pages

Morhaf Al Achkar, a practicing family physician at the University of Washington, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  Since then, his research has focused on the experience of patients living with cancers.  In this book (free for Kindle), he shares his understanding of love from the perspective of someone aware of his finitude.  A Love Attempt is the third book in Dr. Al Achkar’s self-help series.  I blogged about the first two HERE.  Quoting from the book's introduction:

"I have thought about love so much it has become my obsession.  I am convinced that defining love is a task so important that if I succeed at it, my life will have been worthwhile.  Love has been my life’s ultimate answer … Because I have been loved, I wanted to train myself to love.  I wanted to learn the how-to of loving so I could love more … I have the vantage point of someone who is aware that my end may be near … This book is an attempt to complete the first two projects … I'm writing this book as if it is the last thing I will do" (pp. 2-6).

The first chapter is about the author's concept of love, followed by three chapters on listening, acts of love, and becoming authentic with love.  The author says, "I consider these three concepts essential to developing the competency for love" (p. 8).

Friday, January 20, 2023

Beginning ~ with a shocking dream


Sister Joan of the Order of the Daughters of Compassion sat bolt upright on her narrow bed and stared into the darkness.  The dream had shocked her awake, something that rarely happened after six years in the religious life.

A Vow of Chastity ~ by Veronica Black, 1992, cozy mystery (England), 191 pages

With a killer stalking the moors near their convent in Cornwall, Sister Joan must battle the forces of evil threatening the nuns.  She must also battle the temptations elicited in her own heart by the cynical police officer on the case, as well.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Beginning ~ with a call in the middle of the night


The call came in the dead of night, the way those calls nearly always do.

Stella fumbled for the phone. ''lo?' she mumbled.

'Is this Stella Distry?' a woman asked.

Stella sat up, finally clearing sleep.  She pushed her curls out of her face, heart pumping.  'Yes,' she said.  'Who's this?  What's wrong?'

'It's about your grandmother, Gina Pontin.  She's had an accident.  I'm calling from Lincoln hospital.  Now don't panic — it was just a tumble.  She's broken her right arm, bruised a couple of ribs, and sprained her ankle.  We can't send her home alone, but she's being very difficult.  Abusive actually.  You're down as her emergency contact number.'

Mapton on Sea: Laughter, Tears and Mayhem at the British Seaside ~ by Sam Maxfield, 2015, fiction (England), 398 pages, 8/10

Stella loves her life in London, far from the foul-mouthed, flame-haired grandmother who raised her.  Then Stella gets the dreaded call in the middle of the night; Gina has taken a tumble.  Soon Stella finds herself trapped with Gina in the crazy coastal town of Mapton on Sea.  Can Stella and Gina ever truly reconcile?  As the June temperature soars, they (and the residents of Mapton) are in for a quite a summer.  For mobility scooter gangs, a bit of romance, and misbehaving dogs, you’re invited to Mapton on Sea.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Thoughts collected for Thursday

1.  Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care = I attended an online workshop on Tuesday about caring for the elderly.  One section was on how to help people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.  The palliative care info came near the end of the day.  If you are interested, ask me about it.

2.  Alzheimer's Facts
 = Get information for free from the Alzheimer's Association.

3.  Idiom of the Day
"Coloring outside the lines" is an idiom that means not following the rules, thinking creatively.  It invokes an image of a child who does not fill in the pictures in a coloring book in a conventional manner.  I ran across it in a book I was reading, so I looked it up to share here.
4.  How big is this number? = A million, a billion, a trillion — hey, that's a whole lot.
  • 1 million seconds is about 11 days.
  • 1 billion seconds is about 31.5 years.
  • 1 trillion seconds is over 31,709 years.
5.  Word of the Day = tril·lion /ˈtrilyən / number = a million million (1,000,000,000,000 or 1012).  INFORMAL = a very large number or amount.  Example:  "Humans consist of trillions of cells." 

Book I'm reading

Peace ~ by Tucker Shaw, 2002, young adult, 144 pages
    Discusses past and present peace leaders and movements alongside quotes about peace from around the world, with a focus on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Is it possible to live a peaceful life in a non-peaceful world?  This is a thought-provoking view into how we think about peace in today's world.

7.  Another delay = Because of more construction delays, I won't be moving into my new apartment in our new building in February, as we'd been told.  That gives me more time to sort my stuff.  

8.  Death and dying
= Pope Benedict died recently at 95, and a nun named Sister André died Tuesday in Toulon, France.  She was the world’s oldest documented living human, having lived 118 years and 340 days.

9.  Sister André = I learned that about Sister André from Jan (who writes things).  Jan wrote:  "I would appreciate not living until I’m 118."  I'm almost 83 and not planning to die soon, but 118 seems awfully long to live.  According to the New York Times, when Sister André had Covid a year or so ago, she said, "I’m not afraid of dying."  Neither am I, but — like Jan — I also would appreciate not living until I’m 118 years old.

10.  Lucile Randon = Born on Feb. 11, 1904, Lucile Randon worked as a teacher, a governess, and a child care provider before becoming a Catholic nun in 1944.  After she became a nun, she took the name "Sister André."

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Homophones ~ shown and shone

I got an email recently where the writer mentions a light that had "shown" on something.  Oops!  She meant "shone."  Those two words are NOT interchangeable.  Two words that sound alike are called homophones.  These two are both verbs, but ...

On the one hand, "shown" is the past tense or past participle of "show."  Example:  "She had shown him the proper way to use the flashlight and to direct it downwards when he was around people."

On the other hand, "shone" is the past tense or past participle of "shine," as in a light on something.  Example:  "The child had accidentally shone his flashlight in her eyes."

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

It's TWOsday again

Two things I ordered arrived on Friday:  canned cat food and kitty litter.  Both are heavy, so I took my cart down the elevator to bring them up to my apartment.  Opening the door to the hall entails getting requests from Clawdia to "go for a walk" in the hall, just to get out of our apartment for a change.  When she went back inside after our walk, I turned my cart toward the elevator.  It's so much easier this way than trying to schlep this heavy stuff on our Crown Center bus when we go shopping at the grocery store.

Word of the Day

schlep / SHlep / informal • North American, used as a verb = haul or carry (something heavy or awkward).  Example:  "She schlepped her groceries home. "  When used as a noun = a tedious or difficult journey.  Example:  "It was a rush hour schlep to the airport."