Sunday, June 30, 2024

Sunday Salon

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts The Sunday Salon.

Well, I bought a new laptop, but it isn't yet connected to wi-fi in my apartment.  Maybe tomorrow.  In the meantime, I've finished reading Oh William! a novel by Elizabeth Strout, 2021.  Someone left an Amazon comment, saying that this...

"is the third book in a series, but unlike the first two, Oh, William! exists as a standalone. You don’t need to have read the first two books to understand this one."

I'll tell you more about it when I can add a photo and all that.  The book is also Library Loot for me.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Being catty on Caturday

Samson the Strong Man (The Lion Story ...

My neighbor Larry showed me a black-and-white photo of his cat, but this is a colorful story.  In my Sunday post, I promised to tell you about his cat, saying it was "a big cat, in need of a big name."  They named the cat Samson.  Why Samson?  Maybe because Samson is known as the strong man in the Bible, and the cat has a 13-inch tail and huge paws.

Judges 16:1-31 says that Samson was a Nazirite who was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies.  He demolished the Philistine temple of the god Dagon, at Gaza, destroying both his captors and himself in the process (Judges 16:4–30).  Is the cat that strong?  I doubt it, but he's a BIG cat.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Beginning ~ with her first husband


I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William.

William has lately been through some very sad events  many of us have  but I would like to mention them, it feels almost a compulstion, he is seventy-one years old now.

Oh William! (Book 3 of 5) ~ by Elizabeth Strout, 2021, fiction, 248 pages (in the large print edition)

Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read.  William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me.  Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years.  They just are. 

So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret — one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us.  There are fears and insecurities, simple joys and acts of tenderness, and revelations about affairs and other spouses, parents and their children.  On every page of this exquisite novel we learn more about the quiet forces that hold us together — even after we’ve grown apart.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Two poems for TWOsday

WEATHER                                     COMPARATIVES

Whether the weather be fine,                  Good, better, best,
Whether the weather be cold,                 Never let it rest,  
Or whether the weather be hot,              Till your good is better
We'll weather the weather                       And your better best.    
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!                                                 ANON


I "hear" these in a sing-songy rhythm.  Am I the only one?  These are from A Child's Treasury of Poems, edited by Mark Daniel, p. 18 (L) and p. 30 (R).  And once again, I can't figure out how to include the book cover illustration.
UPDATE (7-14-24):  I have a new laptop and can finally add the book cover.

Monday, June 24, 2024

It takes a village.....

Wikipedia tells me that the full quote is "It takes a village to raise a child," but today it feels to me that "it takes a village" to get this post up on my blog.  Why? Because my laptop went down and I pulled out an old one that I haven't used in years. When I couldn't figure out how to get into it, I went to the Crown Center office and Andrew helped me connect to the wi-fi on the ground floor.  So here 'tis, as my friend Jane used to say.  Now if only I could figure out how to add the illustration I chose.  Hmm.

Oh, I got a photo to load.  Yay!  It's the pear salad that I wish they'd put back on the menu in my Circle@Crown Café!  Yes, it's as yummy as it looks.  Okay, I'll settle for this illustration because my "village" likes to eat.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sunday Salon

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI ~ by David Grann, 2017, history (Oklahoma), 416 pages
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma.  After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off.  The family of an Osage woman Mollie Burkhart became a prime target.  One of her relatives was shot.  Another was poisoned.  And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.

As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery.  White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
This book was a finalist for the National Book Award.  Here's one popular highlight:  "This is why the Osage Indians refer to May as the time of the flower-killing moon."

I told a friend — who was wearing a blue Snoopy tee shirt with "I'll do it tomorrow" on it — that Snoopy is my favorite dog.  Snoopy's philosophy makes me think.  Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?  I found this photo online to share with you.

Sorry, Snoopy, but I've started something "new" on my blog.  Or rather, I've returned to being catty.  I plan to once again post on Caturdays.  Take a look HERE at yesterday's announcement.  I have photographed my neighbor's cat.  Well, I took a picture of his photo of the cat, whose name is Samson.  It's a big cat, in need of a "big" name.  Tune in this coming Saturday to read more about it.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Weekly Mews for Caturday

I love this photo!  I found it HERE, and decided Caturday (the day after Friday) needs a refreshing photo of a kitty cat like this.  So this is my Caturday post with the Weekly Mews.  Hmm, do I have any catty news?  It's hard to do this without the help of either Kiki Cat or Clawdia Cat telling me what to write.  See pictures of my BFFs (Best Furry Friends) on the right sidebar.

Today's news ~ or mews ~ is that I'll talk to my friends with cats and dogs and see what's going on in their lives.  And maybe by next week I will actually have something to say from a cat's eye view of the world.  Meow for now, and . . .

Friday, June 21, 2024

Beginning ~ with making a joke


The first day I did not think it was funny.  I didn't think it was funny the third day either, but I managed to make a little joke about it.

Heartburn ~ by Nora Ephron, 1983, fiction, 179 pages (252 pages in large print edition)

This is Nora Ephron's first novel.  The Chicago Tribune said it "memorably mixed food, heartbreak, and revenge into a comic masterpiece."  

Is it possible to write a sidesplitting novel about the breakup of the perfect marriage?  If the writer is Nora Ephron, the answer is a resounding yes.  In this inspired confection of adultery, revenge, group therapy, and pot roast, the creator of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, reminds us that comedy depends on anguish as surely as a proper gravy depends on flour and butter.

Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman.  The fact that the other woman has "a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs" is no consolation.  Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel writes cookbooks for a living.  And in between trying to win Mark back and loudly wishing him dead, Ephron's irrepressible heroine offers some of her favorite recipes.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

The summer solstice is here!

It's time to celebrate the earliest June solstice since 1796.  That's 228 years.  I set this information to post at exactly 3:50 p.m. my time, so I've gotta hurry and finish typing this information.  The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is when we have the longest day of the year and the shortest night.

The summer solstice occurs when one of earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the sun.  It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern).  For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is the day with the longest period of daylight and shortest night of the year, when the sun is at its highest position in the sky.  At either pole there is continuous daylight at the time of its summer solstice.  The opposite event is the winter solstice.  The summer solstice occurs during the hemisphere's summer.  In the Northern Hemisphere, this means the solstice is in June.  Specifically that means it happens on June 20, 21, or 22.  To learn more, look at Wikipedia, HERE.

By the way, this is the second post on this blog today showing Stonehenge.  Look at my previous post by clicking HERE.

Thursday Thoughts

Have you ever tried to be a detective?  I was intrigued by what Colleen was reading, but she had not shared the exact title and author on her blog post in her Thursday post on June 11, HERE.  She is not a book blogger, but she wrote about this one on her blog.  So by searching through books about Stonehenge looking for the cover of the book Colleen was holding, I figured out the author and the title, so I could request The Enigma of Stonehenge by John Fowles from my library.  The subject interests me, too.  Thank you, Colleen!


The Enigma of Stonehenge ~ by John Fowles, photographs by Barry Brukoff, 1974, history, 126 pages

John Robert Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, a small town in Essex.  He recalled the English suburban culture of the 1930s as oppressively conformist and his family life as intensely conventional.  Of his childhood, he said, "I have tried to escape ever since."  He attended Bedford School, a large boarding school designed to prepare boys for university, from ages 13 to 18.  After briefly attending the University of Edinburgh, he began compulsory military service in 1945 with training at Dartmoor, where he spent the next two years.  World War II ended shortly after his training began, and by 1947 he had decided that the military life was not for him.

Fowles then spent four years at Oxford, where he discovered the writings of the French existentialists.  In particular, he admired Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, whose writings corresponded with his own ideas about conformity and the will of the individual.  He received a degree in French in 1950 and began to consider a career as a writer.  Several teaching jobs followed, including two years teaching English at a college on the Greek island of Spetsai.

The time spent in Greece was very important to him.  During his tenure on the island he began to write poetry and to overcome a long-time repression about writing.  Between 1952 and 1960 he wrote several novels, but offered none to a publisher, considering them all incomplete in some way and too lengthy.

In late 1960 Fowles completed the first draft of The Collector in just four weeks.  He continued to revise it until the summer of 1962, when he submitted it to a publisher; it appeared in the spring of 1963 and was an immediate best-seller.  The critical acclaim and success of the book allowed Fowles to devote all of his time to writing.

The most commercially successful of Fowles' novels, The French Lieutenant's Woman, appeared in 1969.  In the 1970s, he worked on a variety of literary projects, and in 1973 he published a collection of poetry.  There's more, but I won't bore you.  John Fowles died on November 5, 2005 after a long illness.


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Let's celebrate!

According to Wikipedia, Juneteenth is officially known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.  It is a federal holiday in the United States and is celebrated annually on June 19th to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. Today is June 19, so it's the day to celebrate in 2024.

Added later:  A big crowd showed up for the Juneteenth documentary we watched this afternoon in our Community Room.  More than they expected, actually!  Afterwards, we ate red velvet cupcakes and strawberries.

Word nerd

I came across a suggestion:  "Tell us you're a word nerd without telling us you're a word nerd."  Here's one answer someone gave that sounds about right:
"Facetious is my favorite word because it contains all the vowels and in order."

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Two library books for TWOsday

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick ~ by Zora Neale Hurston, edited by Genevieve West, foreword by Tayari Jones, 2020, stories, xliii + 253 pages

In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston — the sole black student at the college — was living in New York, “desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.”  During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance.  Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.

Murder in the Dark ~ by Margaret Atwood, 1983, fiction, 110 pages

These short fictions and prose poems are beautifully bizarre:  bread can no longer be thought of as wholesome comforting loaves; the pretensions of the male chef are subjected to a light roasting; a poisonous brew is concocted by cynical five-year-olds; and knowing when to stop is of deadly importance in a game of Murder in the Dark.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Monday Mindfulness ~ paying attention

"What is the sound of one hand texting?"  That's how the NYTimes article starts, the one about mindfulness getting its share of attention.  The author, David Hochman, defines mindfulness as "a loose term that covers an array of attention-training practices."

Okay, that got my attention, and I wondered, "Am I interested in mindfulness because there's a lot of attention being focused on it?  Or am I noticing articles and blog posts about mindfulness because I'm already paying attention to it?"

Do you know the zen koan "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  That first sentence, which changes the last word to "texting" is a play on the classic koan.

Where is your attention these days?  On books?  On texting?  On the world around you.  What's on your mind?

Monday Mindfulness ~ This woman is meditating.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Books ~ and a repeat

Zen Happiness ~ by Jon J. Muth, 2019, sayings for ages 5-18, 26 pages, 10/10

This beautiful, small-format gift book contains twelve inspiring and affirmational sayings that take on deeper meaning when paired with Jon J Muth's beautiful art, featuring Stillwater, the panda bear.  Every saying pictured is worth a thousand words!  Here's are three examples from the book:
Words, both true and kind, can change the world.
We are born again with each new day.  (See also HERE.)
With our thoughts, we create the world.

The Ponder Heart ~ by Eudora Welty, 1954, fiction (Mississippi), 156 pages

Daniel Ponder is the amiable heir to the wealthiest family in Clay County, Mississippi.  To friends and strangers, he’s also the most generous, having given away heirlooms, a watch, and so far, at least one family business.  His niece, Edna Earle, has a solution to save the Ponder fortune from Daniel’s mortifying philanthropy:  As much as she loves Daniel, she’s decided to have him institutionalized.

Foolproof as the plan may seem, it comes with a kink — one that sets in motion a runaway scheme of mistaken identity, a hapless local widow, a reckless wedding, a dim-witted teenage bride, and a twist of dumb luck that lands this once-respectable Southern family in court to brave an embarrassing trial for murder.  It’s become the talk of Clay County, and the loose-tongued Edna Earle will tell you all about it.

A comment on Amazon warns about the way two Black servants are "depicted as simple-minded, ill-spoken, child-like figures in the worst tradition of black people as comic relief. ... Also be advised that the n-word is used once in the book, in dialog spoken by an unpleasant character."

Zenned out?
Tomorrow's post will be a rerun.  I have recently posted books about Zen, so tomorrow I'll share something I first posted in 2011.  The content will be the same, but I'll format it differently.  So check back and see a fellow so focused on his "device" that he is unaware of what's happening around him.  To be "zenned out" may not be exactly "zoned out," but the illustration I used in 2011 makes it seem the same.
Deb at Readerbuzz hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Saturday stuff

Deb at Readerbuzz started listing 3 Good Things daily during the pandemic, and I remember to do it occasionally.  Today looks like a good day to do it again.

Good Thing #1:  The sun is shining, and people are walking on the Greenway that I see from my window.  This photo is from May 2021, when we still had the gazebo.  The building behind it is still there, though.

Good Thing #2:  I'm going out for a walk with another resident in a bit, though with this heat in the 90s, we'll probably walk inside our connected buildings.

Good Thing #3:  I'm feeling good today.  That's always a good thing, isn't it?

Friday, June 14, 2024

Beginning ~ with a wish


Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.  Everyone would be pleased to see me coming.

Little Bee ~ by Chris Cleave, 2008, fiction, 271 pages (449 pages in the large print version, on the right)

The lives of a sixteen-year-old Nigerian orphan and a well-off British woman collide in this page-turning #1 New York Times bestseller.  It's funny, but a horrific beach scene is horrific, according to Amazon.  The story starts there, but the book doesn’t.  And it’s what happens afterward that is most important, according to the blurb on the back.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

A just-published book from my library

A Pose Before Dying: A Cat Yoga Mystery (Book 1) ~ by Alex Erickson, 2024, cozy mystery (Ohio), 272 pages, 9/10

Ashley Branson has a lot to prove with her new cat yoga studio, A Purrfect Pose.  It's a place for humans to find inner wellness — and adopt adorable cats from the local shelter.  It’s also a chance for Ash to run her own life, out from under her overbearing mother and a stifling relationship.  So far, so successful.  Until she discovers one of her new clients, a much-disliked college professor, dead in her studio, locked in child’s pose.

To make matters worse, Ash’s hapless, always-in-trouble brother, Hunter, instantly becomes the cops’ prime suspect.  Determined to clear his name and save her business, Ash does a deep lunge into the surprising — and strange — connections the victim had with her other clients.  But countless suspects, contradictory leads, not to mention people desperate to see her studio shut down, mean Ash will have to stretch to the max to outthink a clever killer who’s ready to strike her red in tooth and claw.

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 library books they have checked out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Hug a Husky

Hug a Husky ~ by Pam Flowers, 1995, fiction (Alaska), vii + 97 pages, 10/10

This is a story of courage and survival in the Arctic, written by an author who is a dog musher and arctic explorer living in Alaska.  The story is about Punni and her family, who are starving as they wander the Arctic tundra in a seemingly hopeless search for food.

Fearful that her family may be forced to abandon her old and weakened grandmother, eleven-year-old Punni sets out in search of fish.  With the help of her grandmother's dog, Sojo, she must learn to read the land and track across miles of desolate, barren tundra.

Before Punni and Sojo can return home, they are attacked by a grizzly bear.  Later, Punni and Sojo must take quick action to save her father from being killed.  As her family struggles to survive, Punni comes to understand and appreciate the importance of Sojo to her family.

Two quotes I want to save:

"Punni's real name was Igalok, but, as is common in many families of The People, everyone called her Punni, which means daughter" (p. 40).

"This is what they had been searching for all summer.  In front of them was caribou, in front of them was lifee.  For the carribou supplied The People of the Land with every necessity:  meat fat, tools, cloting, and shelter" (p. 84).

from the Crown Center library

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A book by Beth Kephart that I haven't read ~ yet

My Life in Paper: Adventures in Ephemera ~ by Beth Kephart, 2023, memoir, 336 pages

I just learned about this book, which was just published last November.  I've loved all of her books that I've read, but my library doesn't have a copy of this one.  Hmm, do I want it enough to pay full price?  Or maybe inter-library loan?  I haven't decided.  Have any of you read it?  Here's what Amazon says about it:
Paper both shapes and defines us. Baby books, diaries, sewing patterns, diplomas, resumes, letters, death certificates — we find our stories in them.  My Life in Paper is Beth Kephart’s memoiristic exploration of the paper legacies we forge and leave.

Kephart’s obsession with paper began in the wake of her father’s death, when she began to handcraft books and make and marble paper in his memory.  But it was when she read My Life with Paper, an autobiography by the late renowned paper hunter and historian Dard Hunter, that she felt she had found a kindred spirit, someone to whom she might address a series of one-sided letters about life and how we live it.  Remembering and crafting, wanting and loving, doubting and forgetting — the spine and weave of My Life in Paper came into view.

Paper, for Kephart, provides proof of our yearning, proof of our failure, proof of the people who loved us and the people we have lost.  It offers, too, a counterweight to the fickle state of memory.  My Life in Paper, illustrated by the author herself, is an intimate and poignant meditation on life’s most pressing questions.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Zen thoughts

Zen Fables for Today: Stories Inspired by the Zen Masters ~ by Richard McLean, 1998, short stories, 130 pages, 10/10

Mindfulness, compassion, humor, and enlightenment are the cornerstones of Zen philosophy — a way of thinking and being that is practical and liberating today as it was two thousand years ago.  In these lovely and deceptively simple parable are relevant truths for our modern times.

This book definitely made me stop and think,
like Rodin's statue of the Thinker.

One idea I want to think about is that we are born again with each new day.  Think about it:  yesterday is gone forever, and tomorrow may never come.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

The write stuff

The Winter Bird ~ by Catherine Burns, illustrated by Pamela Evan Wong, 1971, children's, 32 pages

A stubborn little bird, staying behind when the other birds go south for the winter, learns about the strange world of the carousel horses.  The author won an academy award for her part in the 1969 movie "Last Summer."  When she died in 2019 after falling and hitting her head, her husband said she hated her Hollywood years and wanted to be remembered as a writer.

I don't remember where I read about her (and this book), but now I want to read the little book and cannot find a copy.  My library doesn't have it, and it costs a fortune to buy it online.  Four Amazon customers ranked it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom ~ by Angeles Arrien, 2005, xxii + 208 pages

A collection of teachings, reflections, and stories from around the world opens us to the challenges and deeper mysteries of midlife, with an introduction to the Eight Gates of Initiation, which opens the character and strengthens the soul.  I found this book in our Crown Center library downstairs.  (I noticed a book Zen Fables For Today I want to read, too.)

Jürgen Moltmann has died.  He was 98 years old and was "the most significant Protestant theologian of the second half of the 20th century."  I've written about him many times on this blog, and I have dozens of books by him and about him.  His wife, who was also a theologian, died several years ago. 
Click HERE to read my other blog posts about him.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Here's a dad joke to groan about

This dad joke (found 
HERE) is enough stuff for today's post:

"You should stay away from left-handed people.
Something's not right about them."

I took this photo of my left-handed friend
when we went out to eat together one day.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Beginning ~ at a Beach on Manhattan's West Side

Beginning (Preface)

"Do you want to go to the Beach today?"  My father's question did not send me scurrying for trunks and an inner tube.  In our household of non-swimmers the word "Beach" was always mentally capitalized, for it meant headier stuff than the surf, sand, and sun of more commonplace vocabularies.  My father, who was a sportswriter, was asking me to tag along on one of his professional visits to a stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan's West Side.

A Farewell to Heroes ~ by Frank Graham, Jr., 1981, autobiography, 325 pages

My book is the version originally published in 1981.  It is told from the point of view of Frank Graham, premier sportswriter for 
The New York Sun.  It also includes the chronicles of Frank, Jr., who picks up the narrative as he becomes a sports journalist in his own right.

Frank Graham, Sr., was a self-taught writer known for his uncanny ability to capture the high drama of a game-winning play or the color of a fight mob’s conversation in spare, straightforward prose.  As a reporter, he covered the rough-and-tumble Giants of John McGraw’s day and continued through boxing’s greatest era, spanning the reigns of Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis.

As the younger Frank tells more of the story, we see Lou Gehrig take Babe Ruth’s place as the Yankees’ star and then trace his glorious career to its tragic conclusion.  We see firsthand the legendary Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson and boxing’s brief but golden age on television in the 1950s.  The book also includes eighteen black-and-white photos between pages 152 and 153.