Thursday, August 31, 2023

Thoughts about three books

The Cardturner ~ by Louis Sachar, 2010, YA fiction, 352 pages

This is a novel about a King, a Queen, and a Joker.  The summer after junior year of high school looks bleak for Alton Richards.  His girlfriend has dumped him, he has no money and no job, and his parents insist that he drive his great-uncle Lester, who is old, blind, very sick, and very rich, to his bridge club four times a week and be his cardturner.

But Alton's parents aren't the only ones trying to worm their way into Lester Trapp's good graces.  There is Trapp's longtime housekeeper, his alluring young nurse, and the crazy Castaneda family.  Alton soon finds himself intrigued by his uncle, by the game of bridge, and especially by the pretty and shy Toni Castaneda, as he struggles to figure out what it all means, and ultimately to figure out the meaning of his own life.

My thoughts:  This must have been my friend Donna's book, since I can't imagine buying a book about the game of bridge, which I've never played and know absolutely nothing about.  If you have read this book, can you tell me if understanding the game is necessary for a reader to enjoy this book?

Make Change: How to Fight Injustice, Dismantle Systemic Oppression, and Own Our Future ~ by Shaun King, 2020, memoir, 272 pages

As a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement, Shaun King has become one of the most recognizable and powerful voices on the front lines of civil rights.  His commitment to reforming the justice system and making America a more equitable place has brought challenges and triumphs, soaring victories and crushing defeats.  Throughout his wide-ranging activism, his commentary remains rooted in both exhaustive research and abundant passion.
In this book, he offers a look at the moments that have shaped his life and considers the ways social movements can grow and evolve in this hyper-connected era.  He shares stories from his efforts leading the Raise the Age campaign and his work fighting police brutality, while providing a roadmap for how to stay sane, safe, and motivated even in the worst of political climates.  By turns infuriating, inspiring, and educational, Make Change will resonate with those who believe that America can — and must — do better.

My thoughts:  I know this one was one was Donna's because she greatly admired Shaun King and Bernie Sanders, who wrote the foreword for this book.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking ~ by Susan Cain, 2013, psychology, 368 pages

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams.  It is to introverts — Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak — that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so.  She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture.  She also introduces us to successful introverts — from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions.  Passionately argued, impeccably researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

My thoughts:  This is one I bought for myself.  I'm an introvert, who is also outgoing.  When I got the results of the Myers-Briggs test our staff took one year, I asked why I was listed as INTJ since my score showed me right on the line between being Introvert or Extrovert.  The answer had to do with how a person gets her energy back:  an introvert needs time alone, while an extrovert wants to party hearty to recharge her energy level.  No party for me, so I'm truly an introvert.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Blue moon

This year's Blue Moon was opposite the sun at 9:36 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Aug. 30, according to NASA.  I was outside trying to capture it from my neighborhood, along with four others I knew.  One got a good shot (right), but didn't want to share her name here.

What's in a word? Be creative, folks!

Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step ~ by Edward de Bono, 1970, education, 300 pages

The underlying argument of the book is that there are two kinds of thinking — vertical and lateral.  Most of us are educated to think vertically, to go from one logical step to the next, moving all the time towards the one correct solution of our problem.  We are not usually educated to be creative, to generate idea after idea.

DeBono argues that the function of vertical, logical thinking is to argue what is wrong.  It is a very useful way of thinking, but it is not the only useful way.  To claim it is, is the sort of intellectual arrogance that makes creative thinking unlikely.

Word of the Day

lat·er·al /ˈladərəl,ˈlatrəl / adjective = of, at, toward, or from the side or sides; relating to the sides of something, or moving in a sideways direction.  Example:  "He estimated the lateral movement of the bridge to be between four and six inches."  Synonyms = sideways, side, flanking, edgeways.

In trying to find something to illustrate this lateral thinking, I found a puzzle that intrigued me and followed up on it.  This illustration has a question about eggs in a carton; I'll put the answer in the comments.  Can you think of a way this is possible?  Go for it!  (Just for the record, the answer did NOT occur to me, but it is so simple.  Yes, it really is!)

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A couple of books about men and women

Are Men Necessary?:  When Sexes Collide ~ by Maureen Dowd, 2005, sociology, 356 pages

Are men afraid of smart, successful women?  Why did feminism fizzle?  Why are so many of today’s women freezing their faces and emotions in an orgy of plasticity?  Is "having it all" just a cruel hoax?

In this witty and wide-ranging book, Maureen Dowd looks at the state of the sexual union, raising bold questions and examining everything from economics and presidential politics to pop culture and the “why?” of the Y chromosome.  In our constantly changing culture where locker room talk has become the talk of the town, this book will intrigue readers trying to sort out the chaos that occurs when sexes collide.

Writing a Woman's Life
~ by Carolyn G. Heilbrun, 1988, women's studies, 144 pages

Heilbrun builds an eloquent argument demonstrating that writers all too often conform to society's expectations of what women should be like at the expense of the truth of the female experience.  Drawing on the careers of celebrated authors such as Virginia Woolf, George Sand, and Dorothy Sayers, Heilbrun illustrates the struggle these writers undertook in both work and life to break away from traditional male scripts for women's roles.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Musing about a couple of birthdays

Two of my best friends had birthdays recently.  Here's one of them.
If the other friend is willing to send me a photo, I'll post it here as well.

The other friend did send a picture of herself, so here's her photo, too.
These two friends share a name, but they spell them differently.
They have never met because we live in three different states.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Even in this sweaty weather, it's all small stuff

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life ~ by Richard Carlson, 1997, psychology, 248 pages

This book tells you how to keep from letting the little things in life drive you crazy.  In thoughtful and insightful language, the author reveals ways to calm down in the midst of your hurried, stress-filled life.  He suggests making small daily changes by choosing your battles wisely; reminding yourself that when you die, your 'in' box won't be empty; and making peace with imperfection.  Learn how to:
  • Live in the present moment
  • Let others have the glory at times
  • Lower your tolerance to stress
  • Trust your intuitions
  • Live each day as it might be your last
  • Make your life more stress-free.
We've had "sweaty weather" in St. Louis for ages, it seems.  The other day, I decided to walk around one of our buildings by going out a door of my building near the back of the other building, then walking around it to the Café door.  I hadn't gotten ten steps before my glasses fogged up.  Yes, really!  As I reached the far corner of the other building, the heat evaporated all the moisture off my glasses.  I have never, ever had such a thing happen before.  With temperatures near 100° or more all week, the weather has been miserable around here.

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook: Over 150 Fresh and Delicious Recipes to Speed Weight Loss, Lower Blood Pressure, and Prevent Diabetes
 ~ by Marla Heller with Rick Rodgers, 2013, health, 231 pages

A healthy diet is only as good as the food it provides in its plan.  In this guide to cooking the DASH way is everything necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  It includes recipes such as Cinnamon French Toast with Raspberry Sauce, Filet Mignon au Poivre, and Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries.

This book I have found among the mixed-up books on my bookshelves after my move this summer was my friend Donna's fourth DASH Diet book.  In the middle of it are color photos of many of the meals, and they look delicious.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Great books for the library at my castle in the clouds

  1. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ~ by Robert Fulghum, 1986, nonfiction, 196 pages
  2. The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image ~ by Leonard Shlain, 1998, language and culture, 464 pages
  3. The Art of Racing in the Rain ~ by Garth Stein, 2008, fiction, 321 pages
  4. The Color Purple ~ by Alice Walker, 1982, epistolary fiction, 300 pages
  5. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter ~ by Sue Monk Kidd, 1992, nonfiction, 304 pages
  6. Go Out in Joy! ~ by Nina Herrmann Donnelley, 1990, nonfiction, 221 pages
  7. Jonathan Livingston Seagull ~ by Richard Bach, photos by Russell Munson, 1970, fiction, 127 pages
  8. Little Women ~ by Louisa May Alcott, 1868 and 1869 (in two volumes), fiction, 759 pages
  9. The Metamorphosis ~ by Franz Kafka, 1915, novella, 63 pages
  10. My Name is Asher Lev ~ by Chaim Potok, 1972, fiction, 369 pages
  11. My Sister's Keeper ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2004, fiction, 448 pages
  12. Time and Again ~ by Jack Finney, 1970, fiction, 507 pages

Friday, August 25, 2023

Lunch with a friend

I ate out today and had a turkey and Brie
sandwich with pea and barley soup.

Beginning ~ with a strange transformation

~ by Franz Kafka, 1915, novella, 63 pages, 10/10
Beginning:  One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.  He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly dome and divided by arches into stiff sections.
One of Kafka's best-known works, Metamorphosis tells the story of salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect.  The German title literally means "monstrous vermin."  He struggles to adjust to this new condition.  In popular culture and adaptations of the novella, the insect is commonly depicted as a cockroach.  At 63 pages, it is the longest of the stories Kafka considered complete and published during his lifetime.  The text was first published in 1915 in the journal Die weißen Blätter, with the first edition in book form appearing that December.

I've read this short book at least once and decided to download it for my Kindle.  It's short, so it didn't take long to re-read.  It definitely will go into the library that I am assembling for my castle in the clouds!

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Armchair traveling

My castle in the clouds has a living room, and my living room has an armchair.  What does one do while sitting in a chair?  Well, I don't know about you, but I often travel in books!  Novels take me places, and sometimes those places are far, far away.

In 2009, I opened a book in my own library, but I don't remember where it took me, because I can't see the title in that old photo.  But I do remember going to a tea party with Alice in Wonderland.  I've been all over the world — north, east, south, and west.  For example, I've been to Mitford.

Have you read any of the books about Mitford?  It's a fictional place in North Carolina.  This series by Jan Karon is set in the very small imaginary town she called Mitford and centers around Father Timothy Kavanagh.

For  the next few days, I'll continue showing you around my castle in the clouds as I explore the various rooms.  It is such a wonderful imaginary place!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Someone's in the kitchen

I wrote about food yesterday, so today my Wednesday Words will be puns about stocking up on food for the kitchen of my castle in the clouds:
  • She's the apple of his eye.
  • Gouda luck getting that job you want.
  • Lettuce romaine happy.
  • This food is berry delicious.
  • Donut worry; be happy.
  • These grape foods are making me hungry!
  • Actually, I'm souper hungry right now.

P.S.  I've had another SCAMMER try to scam me.  This one is Indonesian.  How do I know?  Because he/she left this line in what they sent back to me when I said in effect, "Not interested":
Pada tanggal Sen, 21 Agu 2023 pukul 11.00 < my name > menulis:
I don't click on links in email sent by strangers, but this fool forgot to change that into English, and Google tells me it's Indonesian.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Food for thought

In my castle in the clouds, my "food" will be words.  Lettuce begin, and that's my first grocery shopping item.  Hmm, what else?  Do you carrot all for celery?

Oops!  That's three things on this TWOsday.  Hmm, but only two photos.  Okay, let's call it PUNday and TWOsday.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Wandering through my castle in the clouds

As I've read yesterday's book about a blueprint, I've been roaming the rooms of my very own castle in the clouds.  If course, I'll have a library in it, overflowing with books.  I'll also have a workroom, by which I mean a desk overflowing with papers.  You are asking, "Why?"  Because I'm a writer, a wordsmith whose "works" are composed of words.  My tools are pen and paper, or maybe laptop and printer is more accurate.  (Or laptop and blog.)  It will NOT have a landline phone as on this desk like mine that I found online.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Just imagine!

A Blueprint for Your Castle in the Clouds: Make the Inside of Your Head Your Favorite Place to Be ~ by Barbara Sophia Tammes, 2012, inspiration, 160 pages

Come build your castle in the clouds — a spacious and light-filled palace within you where big insights and inspirations are given room to stretch and play.  You  will design mental "rooms" to house your most important self-observations, your dreams, your fears, your fantasies.  To figure out what's going right in your life and what's not.  What will make your life manageable and your dreams feasible.  To envision and begin to move toward your very best life.  You'll build ...
  • a Mental Spa for cleansing intrusive, bothersome thoughts.
  • a Head Office, where you are in charge.
  • a Suite for Shame that includes one side for your real self and the other for your ideal self.
  • a Little Chapel for your soul, with a tiny door to keep out your bloated ego.
  • a Hall of Tears, where you are allowed to cry as much as you want.
  • a Library, where you will discover all the wisdom you hold within your mind and your body.
  • a Kitchen to help you digest new information and things that have been said to you.
  • and a Mental Spa and a Playroom and more than a dozen other rooms that will become your inner sanctuary.
A Wedding in December ~ by Anita Shreve, 2005, fiction (Massachusetts), 337 pages

At an inn in the Berkshire Mountains, seven former schoolmates gather to celebrate a wedding — a reunion that becomes the occasion of astonishing revelations as the friends collectively recall a long-ago night that indelibly marked each of their lives.  This book probes the mysteries of the human heart and the endless allure of paths not taken.

This quote from page 33 continues this blog post's theme of imagination:
"History, Agnes always told her students on the first day of school, was not a matter of dates and battles, but rather one of stories.  She would tell them stories, she announced, and they would listen.  But as Agnes put her pen and notebook away, she wondered this:  Is imagination dependent upon experience, or is experience influenced by the imagination?"
Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Cat facts for Caturday

* Thanks to my friend Sharon for texting me this info.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Beginning ~ with strange little boxes

It was difficult to imagine a time before them, a world in which they hadn't come.  But when they first appeared, in March, nobody had any idea what to do with them, these  strange little boxes that came with the spring.
The Measure ~ by Nikki Erlick, 2022, fiction, 368 pages

When you open your front door today, waiting for you is a small wooden box.  This box holds your fate inside:  the answer to the exact number of years you will live.  From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box.  In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy.  Where did these boxes come from?  What do they mean?  Is there truth to what they promise?

Everyone faces the same shocking choice:  Do they wish to know how long they’ll live?  And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?  If you had the choice, would you want to know how long you had to live?

I learned about this book when I sat down at a table with Mary (a friend), just as she closed this book.  I asked her about it, and she said it was okay, but she was not satisfied with the ending.  When I later looked up the book online, the second comment I found said that this is "an unsatisfying read."  If you've read it, what did YOU think about it?

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Today is National Black Cat Appreciation Day

National Black Cat Appreciation Day is August 17th.

That's today!  Clawdia, I appreciate you!
  • Black cats are about half as likely to be adopted as other cats.
  • There are actually 22 cat breeds that have solid black coats.
  • Clawdia is not solid black, since she has a white spot under her chin.  See it there in the top photo?

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Exercise books and a poster

Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do each day to maintain and improve your health and keep doing things you enjoy as you age.

National Institute of Health

Monday, I ordered the poster above and some exercise books to use in a class that my friend Shannon and I will lead every Monday afternoon.  The book we once used (on the left) is no longer available, but I have six copies for anyone who doesn't already have one.  When the new books arrive, I'll give everyone a copy of it, too.  Look at these also:  HERE is a total body chair workout.  Six ways to do pushups while standing is HERE.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

My little Clawdia is getting smaller

Clawdia asleep, the day after I learned that she is suffering from renal (kidney) failure and losing weight.  Now she needs to eat special food that costs about three times as much as the regular cat food.  This diagnosis also explains why she has become a lap cat, wanting to be petted and held:  she's feeling miserable.  She now weighs a bit less than she did when I got her, when she was very underweight and looked emaciated.
This is a sad TWOsday, since the second person in our household of TWO is not well.

Monday, August 14, 2023

An unread book

The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew ~ by Alan Lightman, 2013, philosophy
With passion and curiosity, Alan Lightman explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by recent discoveries in science.  He looks at the dialogue between science and religion; the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature; the possibility that our universe is simply an accident; the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world; and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws.  Behind all of these considerations is the suggestion — at once haunting and exhilarating — that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary whole.

I bought The Accidental Universe because I liked Einstein's Dreams, which Alan Lightman had published two decades earlier (in 1993).  I've had this brand new book since 2017 and wrote about it HERE.  It is definitely time to read it.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Library loot and a party

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row
~ by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin, 2018, memoir, 299 pages

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama.  Stunned, confused, and only twenty–nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution.  He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence ― full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death.  But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row.  For the next twenty–seven years he was a beacon ― transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty–four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell.  With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

With a foreword by Stevenson, this book is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times.  Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty–year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.

Get-together on my floor

Residents on my floor did party together on Thursday afternoon, as we got to know our new neighbors.  I mentioned the upcoming event HERE on my blog.  This photo shows me, Vern, Phil, and Myrna the next day on the television screen at the elevator on our floor.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Strange thoughts, huh?

Do you also think of the oddest things while falling asleep?  I was drowsy and expected to fall asleep easily, and I thought of one of the languages I have studied in my lifetime:  Greek.  So I started rattling off the Greek alphabet in my head: "Alpha, Beta, Gamma," and so forth.  No problem with my memory, I thought.  Then I got to "Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon" . . . and absolutely could not remember the last four letters!  I actually got online to ask Google for help and now remember:  "Phi, Chi, Psi, Omega."

Friday, August 11, 2023

Beginning ~ with a big imagination

He was an astronaut, he imagined, like in one of those movies; his mission took him to a distant planet on the far reaches of the solar system, Saturn, perhaps, or Neptune.  He was gone a nominal amount of time — three years, maybe five, significant but not interminable — but somehow everyone Jordan Vargas knew on Earth had aged a lifetime while he was in space.
The Celebrants ~ by Steven Rowley, 2023, literary fiction, 320 pages

After their close friend dies unexpectedly just weeks before their 1992 graduation from Berkeley, Jordan, Jordy, Craig, Marielle, and Naomi make a pact to gather in the future if any of them experiences really hard times and needs to be reminded of their friendship and love for one other.

During the next 28 years, the five friends reunite three times to support each other through personal hardships, but the fourth call to assemble is different.  Hope can’t change the outcome of the latest adversity, and their decades-long pact is about to end.  The friends who survived devastation and rebuilt their strength by celebrating life will again have to endure grief, but they will face it together as they have for nearly 30 years, leaving nothing left unsaid.

At its heart, the novel celebrates a deep friendship that endures through loss, years of silence, and even anger, to support and lift each other up when lives fall apart.  The story moves a little slowly as the characters are introduced and the pact explained, but it picks up speed as the pieces of the narrative come together.  Told from multiple perspectives and through several get-togethers spanning decades, the story unfolds bit by bit, allowing readers to gain familiarity with each friend and the importance of their friendship over time.

I see a problem already, with two of the five main characters having similar names:  Jordan and Jordy.  Come on, authors, don't do that to us!  I'm also tired of novels told from multiple perspectives, but maybe I'll give this one a chance.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays

Thursday, August 10, 2023

New neighbors

Today I'm thinking about a party we are having this afternoon on my floor, so that we new neighbors can get to know each other.  When our building was completed recently, new people started moving in.  That includes people who have been on the waiting list for years to get into these apartments.  I have introduced myself to some of the people on my floor, and I'm ready to sit down to chat as I learn more about them.  The photo above shows our new building under construction.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Today is our day, book lovers!

How shall we celebrate?  Well, we could all read books!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Two of my unread books

I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood ~ by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, 2007, advice, 175 pages

Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile spoke to mothers of every stripe — working, stay-at-home, part-time — and found a surprisingly similar trend in their interviews.  After enthusing about her lucky life for twenty minutes, a mother would then break down and admit that her child's first word was "Shrek."  As one mom put it, "Am I happy?  The word that describes me best is challenged."  This book uncovers the guilty secrets of moms today in their own words, and it offers real solutions so that mothers can step out of the madness and learn to love motherhood.

When this book was published, I was already a grandmother and soon became a great-grandmother.  Maybe I found this book in the free bin of discarded books that was outside my bookstore — or it was on sale  — or the title intrigued me.

On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style ~ by Matthew Fox, 1976, spirituality, xxxiv + 156 = 190 pages

This book attempts to answer the question of how Americans can develop our capacities to grow into life within the matrix of American culture.  Exploring the psychological and social response which is prayer, the author concludes that the calling to mysticism (experienced as enjoyment of life) and prophecy (experienced as the fight to share life and criticize its enemies) make up adult spirituality.