Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Yes, that word

Word of the Day

ver·i·si·mil·i·tude /ˌverəsəˈmiləˌto͞od / noun = the appearance of being true or real.  Example:  "The details give the novel some verisimilitude."  (I found the illustration HERE.)

A neighbor mentioned this word as one she had recently run across, saying, "Ver-eh-ssss...." as she tried to remember the long word for something that seemed true.  She was startled when I said, "Verisimilitude?"  She looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Yes, that word."

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Not your typical cat ~ a true story

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat
~ by Dr. David Dosa, 2010, social science, 256 pages

They thought he was just a cat.  When Oscar arrived at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island he was a cute little guy with attitude.  He loved to stretch out in a puddle of sunlight and chase his tail until he was dizzy.  Occasionally he consented to a scratch behind the ears, but only when it suited him.  In other words, he was a typical cat.  Or so it seemed.  It wasn't long before Oscar had created something of a stir.

Apparently, this ordinary cat possesses an extraordinary gift:  he knows instinctively when the end of life is near.

Oscar is a welcome distraction for the residents of Steere House, many of whom are living with Alzheimer's.  But he never spends much time with them — until they are in their last hours.  Then, as if this were his job, Oscar strides purposely into a patient's room, curls up on the bed, and begins his vigil.  Oscar provides comfort and companionship when people need him most.  And his presence lets caregivers and loved ones know that it's time to say good-bye.

Oscar's gift is a tender mercy.  He teaches by example:  embracing those moments of life that so many of us shy away from.  Making Rounds with Oscar is the story of an unusual cat, the patients, their caregivers — and the doctor who learned how to listen and wrote about it in this book for us.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Let's have a little pun ~ I mean, FUN

*** The cutest executive officer is for my friend Ginny.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

What I'm reading this week

Night of Pan
 ~ by Gail Strickland, 2014, young adult fantasy, 254 pages

Ancient Greece, 480 BCE.  Was the Oracle of Delphi a teenage visionary who saved the Cradle of Democracy, or was she manipulated by politically-savvy priests as some modern historians claim?  The slaughter of the Spartan Three Hundred at Thermopylae, Greece 480 BCE — when King Leonidas tried to stop the Persian army with only his elite guard — is well known.  But just what did King Xerxes do after he defeated the Greeks?

Fifteen-year-old Thaleia is haunted by visions:  roofs dripping blood, Athens burning.  She tries to convince her best friend and all the villagers that she’s not crazy.  The gods do speak to her, and the gods have plans for this girl.  When Xerxes's army of a million Persians marches straight to the mountain village Delphi to claim the Temple of Apollo’s treasures and sacred power, Thaleia’s gift may be her people’s last line of defense.  Her destiny may be to save Greece, but is one girl strong enough to stop an entire army?

Gail says that "Night of Pan" means "transcending beyond the individual ego to join with the Universe."  She also says, "Tired of the History Channel and some other modern historians depicting the Oracle of Delphi as a drug-crazed teenager manipulated by politically-savvy priests, I decided it was time to reclaim history for young women.  My story is built around the four prophecies about the Persian invasion that we know from Herodotus.

"When the invaders are a day’s march away, the villagers go to their Oracle to ask if they should hide the women and children and bury the temple’s treasures, spoils of war.  'Trust Apollo.  He will take care of his own,' the young girl says.  What amazes me is that they listened!

"We all know how the story ends.  As the Persians marched between the towering limestone cliffs there was an earthquake and thunderstorm.  Huge boulders crashed onto the path in front of the Persians.  Believing the gods were against them, they ran away never to return.  They burned Athens but left alone a mountain village that a young girl protected with the help of the gods.  All that is history.  Nothing fabricated."

Life ~ by Lu Yao, 1982, (translated by Chloe Estep, 2019), historical fiction (China), 334 pages
Gao Jialin is a stubborn, idealistic, and ambitious young man from a small country village.  His life is upended when corrupt local politics cost him his beloved job as a school teacher.  That prompts him to reject rural life and try to make it in the big city.  Against the vivid backdrop of 1980s China, Lu Yao traces the proud and passionate Gao Jialin’s difficult path to professional, romantic, and personal fulfillment — or at least hard-won acceptance.

On a personal note:  My step counter app told me I had walked 4.6 miles on Friday.  Then I did even better yesterday.  Not bad for an old lady, I say with a smile on my face.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Thursday, January 25, 2024

I've been reading and thinking

Sacred Tree: Reflections on Native American Spirituality ~ by Judie Bopp, Michael Bopp, Lee Brown, and Phil Lane Jr., illustrated by Patricia Morris, 1984, spirituality, 87 pages, 9/10

This book is a blueprint for living a compassionate and peaceful way of life.  It was created as a handbook of Native Spirituality for indigenous peoples and is now being shared with all members of the human family who desire personal growth.

Quotes from the book:

1.  " nothing in return" (p. 43).

2.  "Never speak about others in a negative way, 
      whether they are present or not" (p. 76).

3.  "Listen with your heart" (p. 76).

My 60-year-old son has been best friends with a guy since high school.  The friend died recently, but the really difficult part for that family is that the friend's sister died five days later.  It's also been rough on my son and his wife.  It's hard to lose our friends as we get older.  "Getting old ain't for sissies."  Who said that?  According to the information HERE, Bette Davis said it.  I also found the word that I defined yesterday:  OCTOGENARIAN.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Is this octogenarian a bag lady?

Word of the Day #1

octogenarian / aak·tuh·juh·neh'·ree·uhn / noun = a person who is between 80 and 89 years old.  Example:  Although I am an octogenarian, I have not seen, heard, or thought of that word in years.  I read somewhere that an octogenarian is a chronologically-gifted person in their eighties.  This photo was taken back when I was ONLY 80 years old.

Word of the Day #2

bag la·dy /ˈbaɡ ˌlādē/ noun INFORMAL = a homeless woman who carries her possessions in shopping bags.  Example:  Yes, I'm sure you already know what a bag lady is, but it occurred to me that I, too, am a bag lady.  What?!?  Yep, I just happen to be a bookbag lady.  My bag, of course, is a bookbag.  Here's one of my book bags, which is the bag my library uses to deliver books to me and the other elderly folks who live at the Crown Center.  (Now I wonder if my handle should be "bookbag lady"?)

Word of the Day #3

han·dle /ˈhandəl / noun =  slang, a person's nickname or username, as on a social media website.  Example:  Being known by the handle of bookbag lady makes sense to me.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Palentine's Day is something new

Palentine's Day (information found HERE) sounds like Valentine's Day.  It was shown as a NEW WORD on February 13, 2023 (HERE).

For several years, I celebrated Galentine's Day on February 13th (click HERE for photos on this blog).  But Palentine's Day is even better because it's more inclusive.  It's on a Tuesday this year, so I'll plan to be in the Circle@Crown Café (more on that later).  In the meantime, maybe I can convince our program coordinator to make it an official program.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

A book about scrolls and some coincidences

Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls ~ by Harvey Minkoff, 1998, archaeology, 177 + xi pages
In 1947, a shepherd boy wandered into a cave hidden in limestone cliffs beside the Dead Sea, in an area called Qumran.  There, he found ten two foot-high clay jars.  All but two were empty.  Of these two, one held dirt; the other held three ancient scrolls.

Archaeologists descended on the site of the ancient community of Qumran, and within ten years ten additional caves were discovered.  The caves yielded the remains of more than 800 manuscripts from before and during the time of Christ.  These were called the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Some were scroll fragments, some lengthy texts.  These scrolls would change the history of Christianity and provoke fascinating controversies.  This book details the dramatic discoveries of the scrolls, explains what the manuscripts contain, and casts a clear light on the religious debates they sparked.

I mentioned this book back in 2014 (HERE), but I'm only now getting around to reading it.  If you'd like to learn a bit about the Dead Sea Scrolls, read "The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls" (HERE).  It's a background summary on the scrolls from noted scholar Hershel Shanks.


1.  I spent most of yesterday in my easy chair, reading.  When I looked at the app that counts my steps, I laughed because it showed that as of 6:22 pm I had taken 622 steps.  So I got up out of that chair and went for a walk.

2.  On Friday, I was shocked when I called the cemetery where I have five plots given to me by my grandmother when she remarried after my grandfather's death.  (He's buried in one of the original six in a row.)  My grandmother and her new husband were moving to Florida, where she is now buried.  Since I was her oldest grandchild, she wanted me to take responsibility so that anyone in the family who needed a burial spot could use one.  It turns out that the woman I spoke to at the cemetery is married to a man with my grandfather's first and last names as his given names!  How unlikely is that?

3.  Read about ten amazing coincidences (HERE).

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Out of time and out of place

The Other Side of the Clock: Stories Out of Time, Out of Place ~ collected by Philip Van Doren Stern, 1969, science fiction stories, 192 pages

An architect who designs houses in four dimensions . . . a buccaneer who has ruled an island for 200 years . . . a contemporary man and woman who meet  in Victorian England . . . an inventor who creates fabulous gadgets but who seems to have no mechanical aptitude.  These are some of the characters from the past, present, and future whose stories are told in this anthology.

Writers with far-ranging imaginations were exploring the idea of the time machine even before Einstein established the relativity of space and time.  Is it possible that future generations could vacation on the virgin sands of Cape Cod in the fifth century?  Will licensed historians take authorized trips to observe at firsthand the periods they are studying?  Are there people among us right now perhaps next door, as in one of the stories who are here from the future?  Is there some way we readers can manipulate time so as to achieve that immortality for which we have longed for centuries?  These and other questions are for the reader to ponder as we let our imagination rove through these pages.

There are a dozen stories in this book:
    1. "Chronoclasm" ~ by John Wyndham
    2. "The Story of the Late Mr Elvesham" ~ by H. G. Wells
    3. "No Ships Pass" ~ by Lady Eleanor Smith
    4. "Look after the Strange Girl" ~ by J. B. Priestley
    5. " And He Built a Crooked House" ~ by Robert A. Heinlein
    6. "Such Interesting Neighbors" ~ by Jack Finney
    7. "August Heat" ~ by William Fryer Harvey
    8. "The Phantom Setter" ~ by Robert Murphy
    9. ". . . And It Comes Out Here" ~ by Lester del Rey
    10. "The Old Man" ~ by Holloway Horn
    11. "Dial 'O' for Operator" ~ by Robert Presslie
    12. "The Greatest Gift" ~ by Philip Van Doren Stern

Friday, January 19, 2024

Beginning ~ with a lie


"It's a lie."
The large man's voice was deep and hoarse.
"What's a lie?" someone whispered.
"Where we're going."
"They're taking us north."
"They're taking us to die."
"Not true!"
"It is true," the large man said.  "They'll kill us once we get there."
"No!  We're being resettled!  To new homes!  You heard the boy on the platform!"

The Little Liar ~ by Mitch Albom, 2023, historical fiction, 352 pages

Eleven-year-old Nico Krispis has never told a lie.  His schoolmate, Fannie, loves him because of it.  Nico’s older brother Sebastian resents him for both these facts.  When their young lives are torn apart during the war, it will take them decades to find each other again. 

Nico’s innocence and goodness is used against his tightly knit community when a German officer barters Nico’s reputation for honesty into a promise to save his loved ones.  When Nico realizes the consequences of the betrayal, he can never tell the truth again.  He will spend the rest of this life changing names, changing locations and identities, desperate to find a way to forgiveness — for himself and from the people he loves most.

This powerful novel of hope and forgiveness moves from a coastal Greek city during WWII to America in the golden age of Hollywood, as the intertwined lives of three young survivors are forever changed by the perils of deception and the grace of redemption.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Two cozy mysteries for TWOsday

Purrs and Peril: Norwegian Forest Cat Café Cozy Mystery (Book 1 of 23) ~ by Jinty James, 2018, cozy mystery (California), 228 pages, 9/10

Lauren Crenshaw and her Norwegian Forest Cat Annie run their own certified cat café in the picturesque small town of Gold Leaf Valley in Northern California.  Lauren’s fun cousin Zoe helps out as well.

Lauren, Annie, and Zoe are shocked when one of their favorite customers is poisoned.  Steve came into the café nearly every day – but who wanted him dead?

The trio find themselves suspecting their customers – even elderly Mrs. Finch, whom Lauren thinks of as a substitute grandmother, doesn’t escape their scrutiny.  The new (and attractive) police detective warns them off the case.  But Annie, the Norwegian Forest Cat, seems to have a nose for sniffing out trouble.

Can Lauren, Annie, and Zoe catch the killer before the killer catches them?  This is a humorous cat cozy mystery with female amateur sleuths – and a gorgeous Norwegian Forest Cat.

Murder in the BookshopMiss Merrill and Aunt Violet Mysteries (Book 1 of 2) ~ by Anita Davison, 2023, cozy mystery, 274 pages, 6/10

1915, London: Working in the dusty bookshop that her Aunt Violet mysteriously inherited, Hannah Merrill is accustomed to finding twists in every tale.  But discovering her beloved best friend Lily-Anne – with a paperknife through her heart – in the middle of the bookshop, is not a plotline she saw coming.

The case is anything but textbook.  With the discovery of a coded German message, and Hannah’s instinct that Lily-Anne’s husband is keeping secrets, she determines to get to the bottom of it.

She can’t do it alone though.  To crack this case, Hannah will need to enlist the help of her outrageous, opinionated, only-occasionally-objectionable Aunt Violet.

They think they’re making progress until one of their chief suspects is found dead, and Hannah realizes that she is herself now in the murderer’s sights.  Will the final chapter be the ending of a killer – or just a killer ending?

Sunday, January 14, 2024

A complex mother-daughter relationship

Annie John~ by Jamaica Kincaid, 1983, fiction (West Indies), 148 pages

This story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua focuses on a universal, tragic, and often comic theme:  the loss of childhood.  An adored only child, Annie has until recently lived an idyllic life.  She is inseparable from her beautiful mother, a powerful presence, who is the very center of the little girl's existence.  Loved and cherished, Annie grows and thrives within her mother's benign shadow.  Looking back on her childhood, she reflects, "It was in such a paradise that I lived."

When she turns twelve, however, Annie's life changes, in ways that are often mysterious to her.  She begins to question the cultural assumptions of her island world; at school she instinctively rebels against authority.  Most frighteningly, when her mother sees Annie as a "young lady," she ceases to be the source of unconditional adoration and takes on the new and unfamiliar guise of adversary.

At the end of her school years, Annie decides to leave Antigua and her family, but not without a measure of sorrow, especially for the mother she once knew and never ceases to mourn.  "For I could not be sure," she reflects, "whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world."

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Friday, January 12, 2024

Beginning ~ on water skis

Lauren clung to the handle of the water ski, feeling her legs loose and wobbly beneath her.  In front of her, the boat soared through the crystal blue water, and Lauren looked down to see her feet each on a ski.  She'd never done this before, and she couldn't help but tremble as she imagined a shark leaping up and sinking his teeth into her chest.
Still Alive: A Lily Dawn FBI Suspense Thriller (Book 1) ~ by Ava Strong, 2022, thriller, 187 pages, 7/10

FBI BAU Special Agent Lily Dawn, half Dutch, half Hispanic, raised in the Caribbean, knows the isles like the back of her hand.  When a surge in serial killers in the region prods the FBI to assemble a task force, Lily is the natural choice.

 But Lily is reluctant to face the demons of her past, including her missing sister, and when a new serial killer strikes, leaving a string of victims tied to buoys, Lily knows she is heading right into the darkness.

When a bloated body is found floating in international waters, twenty miles out at sea, Lily Dawn is called back to the Caribbean.  But this is not a happy homecoming.  She hasn’t seen her parents since moving to Miami ten years ago, and now her sister has been declared legally dead.

Can Lily stop the killer before he strikes again?  Or will she sink under the weight of her past?

Word of the Day (or maybe initials of the day?)

When I read "FBI BAU Special Agent" (above), I had to look it up to know what it meant:  FBI Behavioral Analysis Units work a variety of cases across the country, from terrorism and cybercrime to violent crimes against children and adults.  They consult on new, active, and cold cases — working in tandem with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners.
Rose City Reader hosts

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Quotes to ponder

Quote #1

Oliver Sacks wrote that he had "the hope that some of my books may still 'speak' to people after my death" (p. 8 of his book Gratitude, 2015).  You and I are still speaking, Oliver.  He was almost 80 when he wrote that in 2013, and I'll be 84 in April.  I can relate, wondering if my blog will still speak for me when I'm gone.

Quote #2

"There's a difference between determination and stubbornness, Dora.  Determination keeps you focused.  Stubbornness, in contrast, blinds you" (from pp. 65-66 of Ellie Midwood's The Undercover Secretary, 2023).

Word of the Day #1
de·ter·mi·na·tion / dəˌtərməˈnāSH(ə)n / noun = firmness of purpose; resoluteness.  Example:  "The woman set to work on the problem with total determination."
Word of the Day #2
stub·born·ness /ˈstəbər(n)nəs / noun = dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something.  Example:  "His error was sheer stubbornness in refusing to admit a mistake." 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Being happier is a great dream

                                   Giving ~ Do kind things for others.
                                   Relating ~ Connect with people.
                                   Exercising ~ Take care of your body.
                                   Awareness ~ Live life mindfully.
                                   Trying Out ~ Keep learning new things.

                                   Direction ~ Have goals to look forward to.
                                   Resilience ~ Find ways to bounce back.
                                   Emotions ~ Look for what's good.
                                   Acceptance ~ Be comfortable with who you are.
                                   Meaning ~ Be part of something bigger.

Oh, wow!  Take a look at the first letter in each box:  G-R-E-A-T is on the top line, and D-R-E-A-M is on the second line.

This Happier January calendar is from the Action for Happiness folks.  Click on it to enlarge it so you can focus on kind actions to bring happiness to the people around you.  Let's all be happier and kinder together.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Hazel and Bonnie . . . Happiness Is . . .

This little dog is Hazel, and she likes me — can you tell?

Hazel comes running when she sees me.  She often jumps in my lap or let's me take her leash from Alyssa so we can run together.  Okay, so I'm running with a Rollator and my hands are safely on the brakes, but it's running, sort of.  We're going fast, anyway.

Late yesterday, I was sitting in the empty Café talking to Fay when Hazel, on her way out for a walk, spotted me.  In the photo on the left, she is telling me she likes me.  (See that kiss?)  In the photo on the right, she listened carefully as I told her she's such a good girl.

By the way, Alyssa took these photos and came up with the title of this blog post.

The iconic phrase "happiness is a warm puppy" debuted when this Peanuts strip by Charles M. Schulz was first published on April 25, 1960.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Whatcha thinking about?

1.  I read something online and cannot wrap my head around the sentence at all.  Let me just show you:  "Me and my boyfriend accumulated a 1.5 German Shepard . . . "  How does one accumulate a dog?  How can a dog be 1½ of itself?  Did the person mean a dog that is one and a half years old  or what?  And then there's that "Me and my boyfriend" as the subject of the sentence.  The dog in the picture is not the "1.5 German Shephard," but a photo found HERE.

Word of the Day
ac·cu·mu·late / əˈkyo͞om(y)əˌlāt / verb = to gather or pile up little by little.  Example:  "Susie has been trying to accumulate a full set of that silverware."  (Did the writer above accumulate that dog by first collecting a little fur, then a paw or two, then maybe an ear?)
2.  Let's talk about New Year's Eve.  Someone pointed out that December 31, 2023 was simply 123123.  Also, a baby born that evening has a twin brother born on January 1, 2024.  Born in different years!  Read about it HERE.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Wednesday Words ~ gratitude, care, health, creation

Mantra for 2024

"The first four words you see will be your mantra for 2024."  I found this on Debra's blog on Monday, HERE.  So I looked, and the first four words I could distinguish were: 
  2. CARE
Hmm, I wonder what I can CREATE, and now I wonder about my HEALTH.  Since I'm walking a mile or two a day (even at almost 84 years old), maybe I can assume I'm taking CARE of my HEALTH the best I can.  Anyway, I'm GRATEFUL for my long life.

Monday, January 1, 2024

First book of the new year

~ by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky, 1986, children's picture book, 40 pages

A miller carelessly boasts that his clever daughter can spin gold from straw.  He is forced by the king to deliver on this claim.  A little man arrives to help the miller's distraught daughter in exchange for her firstborn child.  Later, when the daughter, now the queen, gives birth to her first child, the little man comes to collect.  He agrees to release the queen from her promise if she can learn his name.

The Wikipedia article about the book is fascinating.  According to researchers at Durham University and the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, this story originated around 4,000 years ago.  Some versions make the miller's daughter blonde and describe the "straw-into-gold" claim as a careless boast the miller makes about the way his daughter's straw-like blond hair takes on a gold-like luster when sunshine strikes it.

So are you wondering why I chose a children's picture book for my first book of the year?  Old age has been viewed as a time when older people regress to child-like behavior and become dependent on others for help.  Or to put it another way, we are forgetful to the point that someone else needs to take care of us.  Nope, nope, nope!  I choose to define second childhood as being old enough to be playful again and have a little fun!  It would be even more fun (for me) if I had the actual childhood books that my parents read to me when I (their first child) came running to say, "Read this book to me!"

P.S.  That's a baby photo of me, probably too young to understand Rumpelstiltskin.

Still musing on my last book of the year 2023

Mine To Do: Responding to Race-Based Hatred and Violence
 ~ by Tracy Brown, 2015, race relations, 132 pages, 9/10

This book is a sharing of thoughts and emotions related to the topic of race-based hatred and violence.  Instead of focusing on statistics, demographics or politics, this book reminds us of the many ways racism impacts our daily functioning.  Each of the essays encourages the reader to consider what specific things can be done to build relationships that are based on respect and fairness.  Tracy shares information and ideas to help individuals navigate their personal journey in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society.  If we want to see change in our world, each one of us must answer the question, "What is Mine to Do?"

The day after the Charleston murders, Tracy Brown was sitting in a jury room considering whether she, a black woman, could be a fair and impartial juror in a case where a young white man killed nine innocent people because of the color of their skin.  What happened as a result of that morning has become an unexpected call to action for all people committed to mutual respect or willing to take a stand for fairness.  In addition to the thought-provoking quotations included throughout the book, there is a helpful collection of inspirational quotes provided at the end.