Thursday, February 29, 2024

Thoughts about the date

It's the end of February in a leap year.  I hadn't thought of it before, but because leap year happens every four years that means I was born in a leap year.  Yes, I was born in 1940, but I missed February 29th because I didn't arrive until the last week of April.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

What's the buzz?

"What's the buzz?"  What does that mean?  The buzz is the sound of lots of folks talking in a good way about something.  It generally means positive rumors about something.  We book bloggers specifically want to know, what's the book buzz?  We get ideas about good books from each other.

"Buzz off!"
is very different.  To tell someone to buzz off is a rude way of telling that person to go away.  I got married 65 years ago on this day and, in effect, told him to "buzz off" years later when I divorced him.

"Busy as a bee"
is another saying.  It means the person enjoys doing a lot of things and always stays busy.

** Enlarge my photos to see the bees on the red flowers (August 13, 2023) and the white flowers (September 13, 2023).  They really are there, buzzing around.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Let's be cheesy today

Who Moved My Cheese? ~ by Spencer Johnson, with a foreword by Kenneth Blanchard, 1998, parable, 96 pages

This simple parable is an enlightening story of four characters who live in a "Maze" and look for "Cheese" to nourish them and make them happy.  Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry.  And two are "little people," beings the size of mice who look and act a lot like people.  Their names are Hem and Haw.

"Cheese" is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health, or spiritual peace of mind.  And the "Maze" is where you look for what you want, where you work or your family or your community.

The characters are faced with unexpected change.  Eventually, one of them deals with it successfully and writes what he has learned on the wall of the maze.  Thus, you eventually come to see "the handwriting on the wall" and discover for yourself how to deal with change.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Lots of advice today, plus a book on communicating

Looking through my box of greeting cards recently, I found four "advice" cards:  Advice from a Polar Bear, Advice from a Penguin, Advice from a Glacier, and Advice from a Sea Turtle.  (Hmm, the first three are rather icy, aren't they?)

Anyway, I decided to post something here about advice and decided to look for a picture online.  That's when I found "a million" things offering advice, both animate and inanimate.

My favorite was the one above from a cat.  Why?  Because it's a black cat and reminds me of Clawdia.  Oh, I just noticed my favorite word in there!  See that word "joy" near the bottom?  Cat plus joy, so naturally it must to be purr-fect advice for me.  I decided to pick some advice to share in a post.

Advice from 
I like "2B or not 2B" on this #2 pencil, so I'll start here.
  • Advice from a Pencil ~ know when to draw the line
  • Advice from a Bicycle ~ know when to put the brakes on.
  • Advice from a Polar Bear ~ keep it cool.
  • Advice from a Pumpkin ~ be well-rounded.
  • Advice from a Cardinal ~ it's okay to be a little flashy.
  • Advice from a Tree ~ remember your roots.
Oh, I like this tree's advice, so here's the whole picture:

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts   by Gary Chapman, 2010, communication, 263 pages.    Marriage should be based on love, but does it seem as though you and your spouse are speaking two different languages?  Here's how to identify, understand, and speak your spouse's primary love language:  quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.  Discover your unique love language and learn practical steps in truly loving each other.  Each chapter ends with specific, simple steps to express a specific language and guide your marriage in the right direction.
Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Do you use emoticons? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I like this shrug emoji ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ even though I haven't seen it used in several years.  The shrug emoji is used to convey a sense of indifference, uncertainty, or a lack of knowledge about a particular topic.  It is typically interpreted as a gesture of raising one's shoulders in a nonchalant or "I don't know" manner.  Some creative person made it out of French fries on that plate in the top photo.

Word of the Day #1

e·mo·ji / iˈmōjē / noun = a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion.  Example:  "An emoji can liven up a text message or a blog post."

Word of the Day #2

e·mo·ti·con / əˈmōdəˌkän / noun = a representation of a facial expression such as :-) representing a smile, formed by various combinations of keyboard characters and used to convey the writer's feelings or intended tone.  Example:  "Use an emoticon such as this smiley face :D to make your feelings clear."

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Book discussion, anyone?

The Teacher of Warsaw ~ by Mario Escobar, 2022, historical fiction, 368 pages

The start of WWII changed everything in Poland irrevocably — except for one man’s capacity to love.  In 1939 on the first of September. 60-year-old Janusz Korczak and the students and teachers at his Dom Sierot Jewish orphanage are outside enjoying a beautiful day in Warsaw.  Hours later, their lives are altered forever when the Nazis invade.  Suddenly treated as an outcast in his own city, Janusz — a respected leader known for his heroism and teaching — is determined to do whatever it takes to protect the children from the horrors to come.

When over four hundred thousand Jewish people are rounded up and forced to live in the 1.3-square-mile walled compound of the Warsaw ghetto, Janusz and his friends take drastic measures to shield the children from disease and starvation.  With dignity and courage, the teachers and students of Dom Sierot create their own tiny army of love and bravely prepare to march toward the future — whatever it may hold. This book is a reminder that one person can inspire hope and love in others.

** Does anybody want to discuss this book with me online?  I haven't started reading it yet, and I have a blog where we can carry on our extended conversation.  It's called Book Buddies, and it's found HERE.

Monday, February 19, 2024

What my friend Joan is currently reading

Book recommendation:  I heard about this book earlier today when I called my friend Joan Uda in Montana.  I suggested we have lunch "together" by phone, and we talked across the miles as we ate lunch in different states and different time zones.  She also suggested a couple of other books, and I told her what I was reading.  When we got off the phone, after nearly an hour, I put this book on reserve at my library.

The Lost Tomb: And Other Real-Life Stories of Bones, Burials, and Murder ~ by Douglas Preston, (Foreword by David Grann), 2023, true stories, 320 pages

Douglas Preston, author of the bestselling The Lost City of the Monkey God, presents the jaw-dropping discovery of a vast Egyptian tomb containing dozens of sealed burial chambers.  What’s it like to be the first to enter an Egyptian burial chamber that’s been sealed for thousands of years?  Where might a blocked doorway or newly excavated corridor lead?  And what might this stupendous tomb reveal about the most powerful pharaoh in Egyptian history?

The book brings together an astonishing and compelling collection of true stories about buried pirate treasure, enigmatic murders, lost tombs, bizarre crimes, archaeological mysteries, and other fascinating tales.  Preston broke the story of an extraordinary mass grave of animals killed by the asteroid impact that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, he explored what lay hidden in the booby-trapped "Money Pit" on Oak Island, and he roamed the haunted hills of Italy in search of the Monster of Florence.  In other words, Douglas Preston has written about some of the world’s strangest and most dramatic mysteries.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Books for snowy days

Cat Out of Hell ~ by Lynn Truss, 2016, cozy animal mystery, 176 pages
The scene: a cottage on the coast on a windy evening.  Inside, a room with curtains drawn.  Tea has just been made.  A kettle still steams.  Under a pool of yellow light, two figures face each other across a kitchen table.  A man and a cat.  The story about to be related is so unusual yet so plausible that it demands to be told in a single sitting.  The man clears his throat, and leans forward, expectant.  "Shall we begin?" says the cat.
Sam Hall posted this 1966 snow photo on his Chattanooga history page:  Remember When.  I was looking out my window in St. Louis at the 7-8 inches of snow that had fallen the day before when I chanced on Sam's historical photo.  In 1966, I lived on Signal Mountain, north of the Tennessee River at Chattanooga.  So I'm sure I had even more snow than this downtown area had.  The mountains always get more snow.

When I wrote about M. L. King's book The Measure of a Man (
HERE), Deb commented:  "I wonder how MLK, Jr. defines the three dimensions.  I think I understand length."  This is what I learned in reading the book:
  1. LENGTH = being concerned about self and how long we live (looking in)
  2. BREADTH = being concerned about others (looking around)
  3. HEIGHT = being concerned about God (looking up)
Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Friday, February 16, 2024

Another book for Black History Month

The question "What is man?" is one of the most important questions confronting any generation.  The whole political, social, and economic structure of a society is largely determined by its answer to this pressing question.
The Measure of a Man ~ by Martin Luther King Jr., 2001, nonfiction, 56 pages

These two meditations contain the theological roots of MLK's political and social philosophy of nonviolent activism.  In supporting reconciliation, Dr. King outlines human worth based on scripture, encouraging the reader to know each person has worth, rational ability, and an invitation to fellowship with the Creator.  In addition, he explains the three dimensions of life (length, breadth, and height) must all be present and working harmoniously in order for life to be complete as an individual and as a community.  Black and white photos from Dr. King's life and one of his simple prayers round out this short book.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Thoughts about tragedies ~ but also about fun

Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.  I was a one-and-a-half-year-old toddler.  My daddy was eventually drafted and shipped to the Pacific; I remember standing on the sofa to wave out the window as he left.

The JFK assassination occurred on November 22, 1963, when I was the mother of three small children.  My youngest was born earlier that year.

The Twin Towers came down on September 11, 2001 (that's 9-11), a few months before I retired.  Each of these was "a date which will live in infamy..." as FDR said in 1941.  And all of these happened in my lifetime.

Greg Freeman: A Gentleman, A Gentle Man ~ by Greg Freeman, 2003, newspaper columns, 191 pages

Why am I thinking about these dates?  I had just read Greg Freeman's column (p. 138) that was published on September 12th, when our whole country was still focused on the two planes hitting the world's tallest buildings:  "Tragedies like this stay with us the rest of our lives.  For one generation, that tragedy was Pearl Harbor.  For another generation, it was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  For this generation, Sept. 11, 2001, is a date that will live in infamy."

Tuesday was Galentine's Day, a day that is now also called Palentine's Day.  Some of my friends met in the Circle@Crown Café.  People drifted in and out, so I don't have an exact number of attendees to report.  But we sat around tables, talking and laughing.  Several women from the office joined us.

Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation character, Leslie Knope, invented the holiday in 2010 to celebrate sisterhood one day before Valentine’s Day every February — and fans are still toasting their gal pals annually.  Read about it HERE, and there's also a video on that site so you can see the best Galentine’s Day moments in that show.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Road, rode, rowed

I was reading Greg Freeman: A Gentleman, A Gentle Man (2003, newspaper columns by Greg Freeman, 191 pages).  On pages 132-134, he wrote about Trevelyn Zander, a man who began a coast-to-coast trip in 1999 — on a lawn tractor.  He pulled a small trailer that said, "Help mow down prostate cancer with research and education."

Trevelyn had been diagnosed with prostate cancer a couple of years earlier, had his prostate removed, and wanted to raise money for research and education.  That's the photo of him I found with his obituary; he died in November 2022 at the age of 95.  He lived over two decades more.

So why am I sharing that particular story?  Because donors who gave $500 would get a T-shirt saying, "I know a guy who road a lawn tractor coast to coast."  Read that quote again, if you missed the homophone.

Word of the Day

homophone /ˈhoʊməfoʊn / noun = a word that sounds the same as another word but has a different meaning and/or spelling.  Examples:  "Flour" and "flower" are homophones because they are pronounced the same, but you can’t bake a cake using daffodils.  Other examples are write and right, meet and meat, peace and piece, bare and bear.

You have to listen to the context to know which word someone means if homophones are spoken aloud.  If they say they like your jeans (genes?), they’re probably talking about your pants and not your height and eye color, but you would have to figure it out from the situation.
Credit:  "Homophone."  Dictionary,  Accessed 13 Feb. 2024.

Back to the fellow on the lawn tractor.  Yes, he "rode" a lawn tractor, but he did it on the "road."  You know how I love playing with words, and I immediately thought of a third word that sounds the same:  "rowed."  I have no idea what kind of lawn tractor the man had, but there's an example of a more recent one at the top.  Should I also show you a boat being "rowed"?  Okay, here's a man rowing a dinghy:

Monday, February 12, 2024

Book buying binge?

This quote is on my favorite bookmark.

Word of the Day
binge / binj / noun = a period of excessive indulgence in an activity.  Example:  Some of us are like Erasmus, always buying more books.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Chinese food, tea, and a couple of books

A friend and I went out for Chinese food yesterday to celebrate Year of the Dragon, and we did wear red as I reminded folks yesterday 
(HERE).  I decided to get orange chicken.  Mine looked like this picture I found online, but I had brown rice with mine.  I also chose tea, because one of the earliest accounts of tea drinking dates back to China's Shang dynasty.  Well, also because I love tea.

Greg Freeman: A Gentleman, A Gentle Man ~ by Greg Freeman, 2003, newspaper columns, 191 pages

Gregory Freeman was a St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist who was a champion for racial harmony.  His ability to be humble, honest, and insightful through his column touched thousands of readers during his career, cut tragically short in late 2002 when he died of heart failure.  This book is a collection of 66 columns in six categories:  (1) City Life, (2) Family, (3) Harmony, (4) Love, Hope, Survival, (5) Our Life and Times, (6) Wit and Wisdom.  The book was published a year after Freeman died, with a Foreword by Lorraine Kee and an Introduction by Bill McClellan

University City Missouri: Images of America ~ by John A. Wright, 2002, history, 128 pages

In 1904, from a plot of land that would soon become University City, eccentric publisher Edwin Gardner Lewis shone the beam of what he claimed was the world's largest searchlight over the World's Fair in nearby St. Louis.  Several years later, he claimed an even greater possession:  a city, created around his publishing complex, complete with his own mayoral office, wide boulevards, and beautiful residences.  The story of University City is one of urban wonder:  from the city's "Hilltop Neighbor" and namesake, Washington University, to the diversity showcased in today's University City.  The historic images in this volume illustrate the area's founding and development, from the largest printing press of the time, capable of producing 300,000 eight-page newspapers an hour, to the lion sculptures at the city's famed "Gates of Opportunity," standing proud as the city's everlasting symbol.

University City is, a suburb of St. Louis, had a population of 35,065 according to the 2020 census.  Local people call it "UCity," and many streets are named after universities and colleges.  I picked a few from an online list of streets in UCity:

Amherst Ave,       Cambridge Ave,  Columbia Ave,     Cornell Ave,
Dartmouth Ave,   Dorset Ave,          Duke St,               Gannon Ave,
Harvard Ave,       Morehouse Ln,    Princeton Ave,     Purdue Ave,
Radcliffe Ave,      Stanford Ave,       Stratford Ave,     Swarthmore Ct,
Syracuse Ave,      Tulane Ave,           Vassar Ave,         Yale Ave.

You may wonder why I'm reading about University City.  It's my neighborhood, and that building on the book's cover is within a few miles of my home.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Chinese New Year

Today we celebrate the Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Dragon.  The Dragon symbolizes power, nobleness, honor, luck, and success in Chinese culture.  There are a dozen signs, so each show up every twelve years.  I was born in the Year of the Dragon in 1940, so this is my eighth:  1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, and now 2024.  See the zodiac years beginning with 1904 in the illustration above?

This is a photo of my best friends Jane Yelliott and Donna Carey when we celebrated the Chinese New Year on January 23, 2012.  We all wore red, the color for the day (notice the red dragon above), and we went to a Chinese restaurant.  Jane died in December 2013.  I wouldn't have moved away from Chattanooga if she were still alive.  I would house-sit and cat-sit for Jane when she traveled to places like Ireland with family and friends.  Jane was a well-known artist, and a plaque honoring her is on the historic Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga.  Here's Jane receiving a different award in 2012:

I met Jane in a Sunday School class that had invited me to come teach a series of lessons.  When I realized what a great artist she was, I asked her to illustrate the story Kiki and the Rain Room that I'd written about my cat (see HERE).  Unfortunately, she died before she could do that.  Now where was I went I got off-track?

Chinese New Year!  Does anyone want to go grab Chinese food with me?  Wear red!

** Long after looking at photos for this post, I realized Jane actually DID show my cat in her art.  But it was the cat I got after moving to St. Louis.  Doesn't that look like Clawdia on Jane's art installation on Market Street in Chattanooga?  The whole thing (see below) is called "Catfish Fantasy" and was created in 1994; I moved 20 years later.

** Read THIS, if you want to know more about Jane.  It shows one of her "cows" painted on plywood.  Shown with Jane's "Family Zoo" exhibit at In-Town Gallery during an art opening reception are Jane's family members:  Susan Batten, Ryan Norris, Finch Yelliott (her husband), Shula Yelliott, and Jane Yelliott.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

You are invited — let's talk on the 13th

Meet me in the Circle@Crown Café at noon on Tuesday, February 13th.  Let's celebrate together, eating or drinking whatever you get for yourself from the menu.  We'll celebrate with our friends (and also with our PALS — see illustration below) by being together for an hour or two.  There won't be a program; just visiting each other.  See you there!

Invite your PALS, male pals as well as female pals.

** P.S.  We will ALL be talking to each other,
so I cannot promise to sit with each person.

Watery eyes

Word of the Day
rheumy  /ˈruː.mi / adjective = rheumy eyes have a lot of water in them and are not clear.  Example:  Lots of old folks have rheumy eyes.  If someone has rheumy eyes, their eyes are red and watery, usually because they are very ill or old.
I've been reading about old folks and a special cat named Oscar who knew when they were near death (info about the excellent book HERE), and I live among senior citizens.  So I see rheumy eyes in my reading, in my everyday life, and in my mirror.  Then I started another book and read this on page 3:

"Chaos is coming, old son, and there's no stopping it.  It's taken a long time, but it's finally here."

The Hermit nodded, his eyes rheumy and runny, perhaps from the wood smoke, perhaps from something else.  Olivier leaned back, surprised to feel his thirty-eight-year-old body suddenly aching, and realized he'd sat tense through the whole awful telling.

This book kept me turning the pages late into the night.

The Brutal Telling: A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery (Book 5 of 19) ~ by Louise Penny, 2009, mystery, 372 pages

Everybody goes to Olivier's Bistro — including a stranger whose murdered body is found on the floor.  When Chief Inspector Gamache is called to investigate, he is dismayed to discover that Olivier's story is full of holes.  Why are his fingerprints all over the cabin that's uncovered deep in the wilderness, with priceless antiques and the dead man's blood?  And what other secrets and layers of lies are buried in the seemingly idyllic village?

Gamache follows a trail of clues and treasures — from first editions of Charlotte's Web and Jane Eyre to a spiderweb with a word mysteriously woven in it — into the woods and across the continent, before returning to Three Pines to confront the truth and the final, brutal telling.