Sunday, March 31, 2024

My sign-up post for TBR 24 in '24

This challenge is hosted by Gilion at her Rose City Reader blog.  This is a challenge aimed at reading books from our TBR shelves.  The idea is to read 24 books in 2024, which means one book for each year of the century.  If you're interested, the sign-up page is HERE.  Oh, you want to know what "TBR" means?  To Be Read, books you have on your shelves, but still need to read.
Gilion says we don't have to decide when we sign up, so I won't try to guess which 24 (or more) books I'll read from here forward.  But here are a few possibilities from what I once called my Teetering Towers of TBR Books (I've had the first one since 1976):

1.  Window to the Past: Exploring History through ESP ~ by Hans Holzer, illustrated by Catherine Buxhoeveden, 1969, history, 247 pages
2.  The Way to Rainy Mountain ~ by N. Scott Momaday, illustrated by Al Momaday, 2019, Native American literature, 104 pages
3.  House Made of Dawn ~ by N. Scott Momaday, 1986, 2018, historical fiction, 224 pages
4.  The Way to Rainy Mountain ~ by N. Scott Momaday, illustrated by Al Momaday, 2019, Native American literature, 104 pages
5.  To Love As God Loves ~ by Roberta Bondi, 1987, religion, 111 pages
6.  The Gospel of Thomas: Discovering the Lost Words of Jesus ~ by John Dart and Ray Riegert, introduction by John Dominic Crossan, 1998, religion, 122 pages
7.  I and Thou ~ by Martin Buber, 1923 (translated and with a prologue by Walter Kaufmann, 1970), philosophy, 185 pages
8.  Our Town: A Play in Three Acts ~ by Thornton Wilder, 1938, (Foreword by Donald Margulies, 2003; Afterword by Tappan Wilder, 2003), drama classic, 204 pages
9.  One God: Peoples of the Book ~ edited by Edith S. Engel and Henry W. Engel, 1990, religion, 146 pages
10.  The Teacher of Warsaw ~ by Mario Escobar, 2022, historical fiction, 368 pages
11.  Girl Country ~ by Jacqueline Vogtman, 2023, short stories, 200 pages
12.  In the Image ~ by Dara Horn, 2002, fiction, 302 pages

Word of the Day

duvet (doo-VAY) = A duvet is usually called a comforter or (down-filled) quilt in American English.  It is a type of bedding consisting of a soft flat bag filled with either down, feathers, wool, cotton, silk, or a synthetic alternative, and is typically protected with a removable cover, analogous to a pillow and pillow case.  The term duvet is mainly British and is rarely used in the United States.

I wrote about duvets last year, HERE.  And I posted a pun about the word HERE, that says:  "My friends and I have named our band 'Duvet.'  It's a cover band."  But why am I talking about that word now?

A few days ago, as I was going toward the elevators to go home, I passed a group of folks I know in the lobby.  I had not heard anything they were talking about, but one woman turned to me and said something about a "duvet."  I frowned, trying to figure out, "What about it?"  She took it differently, though, and said, "I'm glad somebody else doesn't know what a duvet is!"  And she laughed at those around us.  I wanted to say, "But I *DO* know what a duvet is!  I have one on my bed upstairs, as a matter of fact."  I chose not to say those words, even though her remark left all of them assuming I had no idea what a duvet is.

Looking at it from the peaceful and caring point of view, I could have saved myself from looking like I didn't know the word by making HER look dumb and feel worse.  I walked away, even though I hate looking stupid, too, so I knew how she felt.  Saying nothing can be "words of peace" (peace in Hebrew is "shalom").  If I had "taken sides" and said I knew it, that would have made her feel even worse.  So I chose to say nothing.  (By the way, I know she does not read my blog and won't see this.)

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon
to share what we've read and done during the week.
Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Two books by Nicholas Sparks

The Best of Me ~ by Nicholas Sparks, 2011, fiction (North Carolina), 336 pages

In this #1 New York Times bestselling novel of first love and second chances, former high school sweethearts confront the painful truths of their past to build a promising future — together.  "Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible.  She'd believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen."

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply in love.  Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in their small town in North Carolina.  But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back home for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance.  Neither has lived the life they imagined, and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives.  As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew — about Tuck, themselves, and the dreams they held dear — was not as it seemed.

Forced to confront painful memories, the former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made.  And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead:  Can love truly rewrite the past?

A Walk to Remember
~ by Nicholas Sparks, 1999, fiction (North Carolina), 256 pages

There was a time when the world was sweeter, when the women in Beaufort, North Carolina, wore dresses, and the men donned hats.  Every April, when the wind smells of both the sea and lilacs, Landon Carter remembers 1958, his last year at Beaufort High.  Landon had dated a girl or two, and even once sworn that he'd been in love.  Certainly the last person he thought he'd fall for was Jamie, the shy daughter of the town's Baptist minister — Jamie, who was destined to show him the depths of the human heart and the joy and pain of living.  The inspiration for this novel came from the life and courage of the author's sister.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

What a coincidence

Lady Tan's Circle of Women ~ by Lisa See, fiction, 2023, fiction, 368 pages
According to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman,” but Tan Yunxian — born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separations, and loneliness — is being raised by her grandparents to be of use.  Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine, the Four Examinations — looking, listening, touching, and asking — something a man can never do with a female patient.

From a young age, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses, many of which relate to childbearing, alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling.  The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose — despite the prohibition that a doctor should never touch blood while a midwife comes in frequent contact with it — and they vow to be forever friends, sharing in each other’s joys and struggles.  No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom.

But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household.  Yunxian is to act like a proper wife — embroider bound-foot slippers, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.

How might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later?  How might the power of friendship support or complicate these efforts?  A captivating story of women helping each other, Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a triumphant reimagining of the life of one person who was remarkable in the Ming dynasty and would be considered remarkable today.
What a coincidence!

Ginny texted me "Happy spring!" from a different time zone and woke me up; I texted right back at 8:07 a.m.  That afternoon I exchanged phone numbers with a woman who had been sitting near me in our newest exercise class, so we could arrange to have lunch together soon.  Since Ginny woke me earlier than I'd planned to get up (having read my book in bed until I fell asleep in the wee hours), I dozed off in the evening with the same book in my hand.  Sandra, that new friend I'd met earlier in the day, called to set a date to meet me for lunch.  When we hung up, I looked at the time she had called:  8:07 p.m.  Wow!  Exactly twelve hours later, to the minute.  What are the odds of two people waking me up at the same minute on the same day, but twelve hours apart?

On another note

I forget who mentioned root beer the other day, but Sue said we have it in the snack machine in her building.  I said I'd have to remember to go get one when I leave the Café.  The next thing I know, there's Sue handing me a can of A&W Root Beer that she got from the snack machine for me.  Thanks, Sue!  It was delicious!

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Friday, March 22, 2024

Beginning ~ on Alice's computer screen

The story on Alice's computer screen had been finding its way into words for more than five years, or maybe forever.  Over that time, it had grown, changed, creaked, flown, gone silent, and then gained its voice again, its plot taking unexpected paths, its characters turning into people she hadn't thought they would be, just as she had.
No Two Persons ~ by Erica Bauermeister, 2023, psychological fiction, 320 pages, 9/10

One book.  Nine readers.  Ten changed lives.  The beauty of books is that they take you places you didn’t know you needed to go.

Alice has always wanted to be a writer.  Her talent is innate, but her stories remain safe and detached until a devastating event breaks her heart open.  That's when she creates a stunning debut novel.  Her words, in turn, find their way to readers ranging from a teenager hiding her homelessness to a free diver pushing himself beyond endurance, an artist furious at the world around her, a bookseller in search of love, and a widower rent by grief.  Each one is drawn into Alice’s novel, and each one discovers something different that alters their perspective and presents new pathways forward for their lives.

Together, their stories reveal how books can affect us in the most beautiful and unexpected of ways ― and how we are all more closely connected to one another than we might think.

I learned about this book from my friend Jane, whose book club is reading it at her suggestion.  Jane and I plan to discuss it together, as well.  I started reading the smidgen that Amazon allows us to read, decided I couldn't stop there, and bought it for Kindle.  I got a library copy to re-read it, and discuss it with Jane.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Does this make cents?

No, it does not make CENTS for these words to rhyme:  accents, since, sense, scents, cents.  If you keep coming back here to read my word-play postsI guess you must have the same SINCE of humor I have.

What time is it?  It's always book o'clock wherever I am, because I am always ready to read a book.  And that means it is time now for me to quit writing and go read in my easy chair.  What are you reading these days?  (Looking ahead:  I have a coincidence to share in the next day or so, about an old friend texting and a new friend calling me.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Spelling Bee

A spelling bee is a contest in which contestants are eliminated as soon as they misspell a word, but isn't it more fun to think of a buzzy little bee flying around with a smile on her face while spelling?

Urban and Urbane
Words of the Day = urban and urbane

I woke up yesterday thinking of two similar words:  urban and urbane.  Oh, how adding an "e" changes the meaning of some words, like this one.  Urban means "in, relating to, or characteristic of a town or city."  Example:  We live in an urban area.  Actually, I live in a suburban area in St. Louis County, not quit inside the city limits of St. Louis (see the other illustration).  Urbane is an adjective meaning being polite and refined.  Example:  She was always well informed and brought an urbane authority to everything she did.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Today's the first day of SPRING

Under this photo from The Old Farmer's Almanac are these words:  "When Is the First Day of Spring 2024?  In 2024, the March equinox happens on March 19 at 11:06 P.M. EDT.  This falls on a Tuesday and is the astronomical beginning of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere.  If you thought that the spring equinox only ever occurred on March 21, you may be dating yourself.  The civil calendar date of the equinox continues to shift every year."  So today's the day, but not yet.  We have to wait until tonight in my part of the world.

I told you about The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese a couple of days ago, saying "a couple of books worth sharing."  Well, maybe not.  My neighbor Betty knocked on my door, handed me this huge book (736 pages), and said she doesn't want it back.  It has taken her since Christmas to finish it, she said.  I then suggested donating it to the Crown Center's little library, but Betty said our resident librarian Risé had told her large books like this are too heavy for old folks to hold.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Books worth sharing

Today is St. Patrick's Day.  It is a holiday to commemorate Patrick's death.  He's the patron saint of Ireland, and this day was chosen because he died on March 17th around the year 492.

I wish a happy St. Patrick's Day to all of us who are Irish and those who want to be Irish, even if only for this one single day each year.

I'll be wearing GREEN today.  Would you like to join me?  I wish you the luck of the Irish:

May good luck be with you wherever you go, / and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow. /  May your days be many and your troubles be few. / May all of God's blessings descend upon you. / May peace be within you. / May your heart be strong. / May you find what you're seeking wherever you roam.

Did you just now read that in a sing-songy way as I did?  Oh, yeah, I thought you did.

The Night Country ~ by Loren Eisley, 1947, social science (Nebraska), 241 pages
Toward the end of his life, Loren Eiseley reflected on the mystery of life, throwing light on those dark places traversed by himself and centuries of humankind.  The Night Country is a gift of wisdom and beauty from the famed anthropologist.  It describes his needy childhood in Nebraska, reveals his increasing sensitivity to the odd and ordinary in nature, and focuses on a career that turns him inward as he reaches outward for answers in old bones (from the back cover).
The Covenant of Water ~ by Abraham Verghese, 2023, literary fiction (India), 736 pages
The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of the major word-of-mouth bestseller Cutting for Stone, which has sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years.

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, the story is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction:  in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning — and in Kerala, water is everywhere.  At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl from Kerala’s long-existing Christian community, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time.  From this unforgettable new beginning, the young girl — and future matriarch, known as Big Ammachi — will witness unthinkable changes over the span of her extraordinary life, full of joy and triumph as well as hardship and loss, her faith and love the only constants.

A shimmering evocation of a bygone India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the difficulties undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today.
My neighbor is reading those two books

Betty, who lives across the hall from me, emailed me about one of them:  "Would love to hand it over to you when I’m finished."  After I read the books, she and I plan to discuss them.
Something Worth Leaving Behind ~ by Brett Beavers and Tom Douglas, introduction by Lee Ann Womack, 2002, inspiration, 66 pages, 10/10

If I will love then I will find
I have touched another life and that's something
Something worth leaving behind

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Friday, March 15, 2024

Beginning lines of an Irish historical novel trilogy

The moon shone fitfully through the clouds.  It was piercingly cold.  The waters of the Boyne carried slabs of ice towards the sea.  The heights outside the walls, beyond the Mill Mount, were covered with a white hooar frost, so that they seemed to be part of the fortifications. 
The men moved cautiously through the orchard, putting each canvas-covered foot carefully on the frozen ground, their weapons gripped tightly in their hands . . .
Seek the Fair Land ~ by Walter Macken, 1959, historical fiction (Ireland), 338 pages
It is 1649.  As the English soldiers trample the Irish homesteads, leaving behind them a trail of barbarity and destruction, a few brave men set out to seek a 'fair land' over the brow of the hill.  Among them is Dominick MacMahon, whose wife has been killed in the bloody massacre of Drogheda, and whose son and daughter, and a wounded priest, Father Sebastian, accompany him.  But as he journeys in search of peace and freedom he is relentlessly pursued by Coote, the Cromwellian ruler of Connaught.
The Silent People
~ by Walter Macken, 1962, historical fiction (Ireland), 370 pages
In Ireland in 1826 millions knew only famine, oppression and degradation.  The landlords ground down the tenant famers; tithe wars and injustice were rife.  But Dualta Duane battles against tyranny, struggling to survive the evils of hunger, poverty and disease.  Courageous and fortified by an enduring love, Duane's unconquerable spirit personifies the love of freedom that raged in the soul of Ireland.
The Scorching Wind ~ by Walter Macken, 2014, historical fiction (Ireland), 322 pages
This is a vivid and memorable novel set in Dublin, 1916, during the Easter Rebellion and the bitter years which followed.  Through the diverging lives of two young brothers the agony of Ireland during these harrowing times is witnessed.  It is the time of the Sinn Fein, of the dreaded Tans, of terrible deeds, and of loyalties strained to breaking-point and beyond.
I thought I had gotten these titles from Colleen's blog Loose Leaf Notes, but now I can't find it.  The books look interesting, so I plan to read them anyway.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Pi is a Greek letter, pronounced "pie"

The Greek letter π is a symbol used by mathematicians to denote the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  Rounded to eight decimal places, the number is 3.14159265.  Here's a photo of the symbol baked into a pie crust:

Let's play with numbers as well as words today.  So thinking of 3.14, take a look at the calendar.  March is the 3rd month of the year, and today is the 14th day of March, making this 3-14 or 3/14.  Use a period instead of a dash or a slash, and we get 3.14 making today Pi Day.  Wow!

What do you think of when I say, "Pie"?  Well, you may think of desert, while I'm thinking about lunch.  So take your pick.

Or even better, we could have BOTH pizza pie and an apple pie for desert on this Pi Day and call it a meal.  Yeah, sounds good to me!

Hmm, I haven't added any books today.  Does it matter?  No, not really.

I'll "eat humble pie," if necessary.  You know that phrase means I will humbly apologize, if you aren't happy that I failed to include books in this blog post, right?

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Do you play with words?

What is the meaning of wordplay?
wordplay / (ˈwɜːdˌpleɪ / noun = verbal wit based on the ambiguities of words and their meanings, punning, puns, clever repartee, a humorous play on words, double entendre.  Example:  "I love playing with words!"
Thanks, DictionGuru!  Click HERE to HEAR their explanation.

I have played with words 
my whole life.  I've told the story before about spending most one summer with my aunt's family.  She had married a man named Witt, so on a phone call home to my folks, little 10-year-old me — knowing exactly what the words meant — announced:  "I'm now a half-Witt."  And I laughed like crazy.  Wasn't I "witty"?

Word of the Day
wit·ty /ˈwidē / adjective = showing or characterized by quick and inventive verbal humor.  Example:  "That was a witty remark."  Similar:  humorous, amusing, droll, funny, comic, comical, sparkling, scintillating, lively, entertaining, clever, jocular

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A time that is gone forever

House Made of Dawn ~ by N. Scott Momaday, 1986, 2018, historical fiction, 224 pages

This is the 50th anniversary edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from renowned Kiowa writer and poet N. Scott Momaday.  There's also a new preface by the author.

The time period covered by the novel is between July 1945 and February 1952.  A young Native American, Abel has come home from war to find himself caught between two worlds.  The first is the world of his grandfathers, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, and the ancient rites and traditions of his people.  But the other world — modern, industrial America — pulls at Abel, demanding his loyalty, trying to claim his soul, and goading him into a destructive, compulsive cycle of depravity and despair.

This American classic is a tragic tale about the disabling effects of war and cultural separation, and also a hopeful story of a stranger in his native land, finding his way back to all that is familiar and sacred.

Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land ~ by N. Scott Momaday, 2020, nature musings, 80 pages

Momaday captures the spirit of of his native culture, offering the reader the experience of nature and beyond.  This book at once pays lyrical homage to the beauty of the living world and calls for our attention to keep it alive.  His words bring us back to the notion of forming a relationship with the land we are from.

The Way to Rainy Mountain
~ by N. Scott Momaday, illustrated by Al Momaday, 2019, Native American literature, 104 pages

This book recalls the journey of Tai-me, the sacred Sun Dance doll, and of Tai-me's people in three unique voices:  the legendary, the historical, and the contemporary.  It is also the personal journey of N. Scott Momaday, who on a pilgrimage to the grave of his Kiowa grandmother traversed the same route taken by his forebears and in so doing confronted his Kiowa heritage.  It is an evocation of three things in particular:
  • a landscape that is incomparable,
  • a time that is gone forever
  • and the human spirit, which endures.  
Celebrating fifty years since its 1969 release, this new edition offers a moving new preface and invites a new generation of readers to explore the Kiowa myths, legends, and history.
These three books were delivered to me yesterday.  Put on your thinking cap so you can think of "a time that is gone forever," and leave a comment about whatever things you thought of.
N. Scott Momaday was born in 1934 in Lawton, Oklahoma.  He died at age 89 on January 24, 2024 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Signs of old age?

Are you feeling old yet?

In case you cannot read these signs, this is what they say:

Welcome to Over the Hillville
Arthritis Ave
Yield to Aches and Pains
Memory Detour
Wrinkle Rd

I don't know what to say about that vulture sign on the right.
Since vultures are birds of prey known for eating dead animals,
I guess it symbolizes death or dying.  Yes, we're closer than ever before.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

See Rock City

I was surprised to find a 38-page Rock City
advertising booklet in our Crown Center's tiny library this past week, so I checked it out and read it, grinning all the way.  For those who don't know, Rock City is located on Lookout Mountain just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  And that's my hometown.  I raised my children on Signal Mountain, on the other (the north) side of the Tennessee River that runs between the two mountains.

I remember seeing
bird houses painted red with "See Rock City" on the black roof and barns with the same color scheme.  This barn says, "See 7 states from Rock City."  Are those still part of their advertising?  I didn't see bird houses or barns in this little booklet, so neither may be part of the current advertising.

I have no idea who may have donated the booklet to Crown Center (many hours away in St. Louis), but I had fun reading it and remembering actually visiting the place.  Lookout Mountain is also famous for the Civil War's Battle above the Clouds, another tourist draw.

A quote from the Clean Speech reading for today:  "If you were dealing with some crisis, like a stolen car or a sick child, wouldn't you expect your friends to have a little bit of compassion for you?  Of course you would.  So if you recognize that everyone around you is in the midst of some challenge of their own, shouldn't you have a little bit of compassion for them? . . . Everyone struggles" (p. 27).  Everyone needs compassion.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon