"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, August 31, 2020

TTT: Books that made me hungry

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that made (make) me hungry. 

Since I don't recall many novels with references to sumptuous food that made me hungry as I read them, I have filled up my list with favorite recipe books. Why not? They are books, aren't they?

1. Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook by Dana Veldon. I just finished this book. There aren't many recipes but the ones she included made me want to jump up and make especially since all of them use few ingredients and sound very wholesome.

2. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. This YA novel is about a teen mom who works overtime to make her dream come true---to become a chef. The food she mixes up sounds delicious.

3. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way of to Live Well by Meik Wiking. Though there are few references to specific foods, there are lots about preparing food with friends and family. The time spent in the kitchen together bonds people and gives us a since of community.

4. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley. I read this graphic memoir years ago yet I think of it every time I saute mushrooms.

5. Chocolat by Joanne Harris. The descriptions of chocolate-related foods and candies made my mouth water.

6. A Taste of Oregon by the Junior League of Eugene. This recipe book was a wedding gift. We have many, many tagged recipes in it that are go-to meal ideas.

7. Bake from Scratch: Artisan Recipes for the Home Baker by Brian Hart Hoffman. A recent acquisition. It is a beautiful, big recipe book on every type of baked goods. My daughter just made a Tres Leches pound cake from it yesterday. It is to die-for good.  

8. The Perfect Cookie: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies, and Bars by America's Test Kitchen. What I love about this recipe book is the explanation by the Test Kitchen why to do one thing and not another. For example, they explain why to melt the butter before adding it to the ingredients, compared to just adding softened butter on certain recipes. It makes me a better baker.

9. Simply Scones: Quick and Easy Recipes for More Than 70 Delicious Scones and Spreads by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright. This is a tiny little recipe book that often get lost on the shelf among other large ones. I got it in the early 1990s and set out to make all 70 types of scones. I lost my way on that project but I did make notes on the pages of the ones I did make. It is fun to read those notes as much as the recipes themselves. 

10. My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud-Homme. The descriptions of food prep and meals served by this famous cookbook creator are sumptuous.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sunday Salon, August 30th

 Ian and Grandpa head out for a spin in the sports car.

Personal stuff:

Weather: Lovely temperature with blue skies. Don is outside working on staining the boards for our deck covering underside.

Fastest, longest round trip: Friday I flew down to San Francisco where my daughter lives and Saturday morning we climbed in her car with her two cats and we drove all the way back to Washington State in a little over 13 hours. We all thought we were going to die, including the cats, while we were in Northern California and Southern Oregon because the car's air-conditioning doesn't work. Temperatures were over 90 degrees. The poor cats were panting they were so hot. We resorted to throwing ice on them on intervals. At first they hated it, but soon they didn't even flinch when new cubes were thrown on them realizing that the ice helped cool them down a bit. By the time we got home the temperature was around 60 degrees. We lived through a 35 degree range in that thirteen hours.


  • Completed
    •  The Cat from Telegraph Hill by Edith Thacher Hurd (Print);  
    • For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters, and More by Graham Tarrant (Print);  
    • Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder (Graphic memoir, ebook);  
    • The Cat Man from Aleppo by Irene Latham, et al (Children's nonfiction, e-book); 
    • The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard (Children's nonfiction, e-book)
    • Lizzie Demands a Seat: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights by Beth Anderson (Children's nonfiction, e-book)
  • Reading
    • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (Print, 55%);  
    • Given: Poems by Wendell Berry (Print, 69%); 
    • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (Print, 31%);  
    • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Audio, 32%); 
    • Finders Keepers by Stephen King (Audio, 77%)

Good News: There was so much bad news this week---double hurricanes; Black Lives Matter protests that turned into killing sprees; people getting their second diagnosed case of COVID; Evangelical Jerry Falwell was exposed for sexual misconduct and lying; and just about everything related to the Republican National Convention. And yet there was this good news:

1. Republicans turning on Trump for good reasons. This is one of the best.

1a. Others endorse Biden also:

  • Hundreds of former aides to George W. Bush and John McCain (NBC)
  • 350+ faith leaders, citing the need for moral leadership (The Hill)
  • Former RNC Chair, Michael Steele, joins the Lincoln Project (CNN)
  • Prominent Republicans now endorsing Biden (CNN)
  • 70 former GOP security officials, citing Trump as "dangerously unfit to serve another term." (CNN)
  • Over 30 alumni from Romney's 2012 Campaign (Romney4Biden)

2. Mask wearing does protect the wearer and if they get sick (even though they wore a mask) their symptoms are less severe. This is more ammunition to use in the debate about the usefulness of mask-wearing. (EcoWatch)

3. Black Lives Matter---Professional athletes and sports teams step up

  • NBA- walk-out in response to Jacob Blake shooting by police and why it matters. Watch all the short video clips that are provided. They are all powerful. (Vox)
  • LeBron James (and others)-voting rights and push for more poll workers (NY Times)
  • WNBA- wore jerseys with bullet holes to protest shooting of Jacob Blake (ABC)
  • MLB- 42 seconds of silence for Jackie Robinson followed by a walk-out by Mets and Marlins. (USA Today)
  • NFL- Coach Pete Carroll's remarks about racism and finally "getting it". This is very powerful. Take the time to listen to it. It is a little long, but worth the time it. Especially good starting at 4:30. "White people need to be coached up on the effects of racism." (Seahawks)
  • Non-sports related: Jacob Blake's father reports that talking to Biden and Harris about the shooting of his son was like talking to an uncle and his sister...very comforting. On the other, Trump hasn't even called. (CNN)

On the lighter or more disturbing side:

1. Hello Kettle. This is the Pot calling... As it turns out, the Trumps who all work for their dad, who worked for his father, are calling out Hunter Biden for nepotism, and this speaker, Pam Bondi, got her job through her father's connections.

2. Snark...

 3.Saw this on Facebook. It makes me "Happy"...

4.This is totally us. We can't get the darn bags open. Ha!

5.My husband suggested another day of the week: Blursday...

6. If you think the directions about school openings are unclear, you are not alone. (Sent to me from my sister, Grace, who happens to be a teacher)...

7. Some general thoughts on 2020. (Sent to me by my daughter, Rita.) My favorite one is the swimming pool example...

8. As you can tell, I didn't watch any of the RNC, except for replays on the news. But I did go on Twitter to see what others were thinking and I stumbled upon this trending thread called #GuilfoyleChallenge. I read the thread over at Raw Story and was howling with laughter. Check it out. My favorite is the goat, second favorite Godzilla. (Raw Story.) Then I had to laugh about the Stephen Colbert update after night four where he made fun of just about everything but especially Melania Trump's green dress which just screamed "green-screen me!" (CNN) If you have a minute check out both of my links.

9. The Daily Show's Trevor Noah is taking out ads across the country. Go ahead and call. We did. Start with option 1, then select option 2. Very funny.

10. Mrs. Betty Bowers: Fake Christian of the week. Oh boy, the hypocrisy.

Super Feel-Good Music. On October 14th, 2018, Koolulam partnered with King David Schools, Johannesburg, South Africa, and gathered 3,500 South Africans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of King David Schools and the establishment of the State of Israel. Within 45 minutes they learned a new arrangement of OneRepublic's "I Lived". This song will make your heart happy today!

I know I say this every week, but I hope that you find something here that speaks to you, that makes you think, feel, and/or laugh. Please leave me a comment in the section below (or on Facebook) so that I know you visited. As you see, I also love to post funny or newsy things that are forwarded to me during the week. If you find something, text or email them to me and I'll see if I can work them in. Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Review and quotes: LEAVING TIME

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Book Beginnings: 

JENNA: Some people believe there was an elephant graveyard--a place that sick and dying elephants would travel to to die.

Friday 56: 

JENNA: "She's not dead," I murmur more to myself than to Serenity, because I like the way the words fill up with bubbles, like my blood had been carbonated.

Summary: Over ten years after her mother disappeared, thirteen-year-old Jenna decides she has to do something to find her. Her mother, Alice, was an elephant researcher working on a sanctuary run by Jenna's father and other employees in New Hampshire. One night when Jenna was quite young one of the employees is found dead on the grounds, trampled by an elephant, and Alice is found unconscious. The next day she checks herself out of the hospital and hasn't been seen since. Jenna's father, Thomas, had a complete mental breakdown and now Jenna has lived with her grandmother ever since that fateful night. Grandma does not approve of Jenna investigating Alice's disappearance. Jenna saves up her babysitting money and tries to get a reading from a local clairvoyant, Serenity. When that avenue doesn't pan out any helpful information, she attempts to hire Virgil, an almost-always-drunk private detective to help her locate her mother. Eventually the three team up. What they discover is shocking and very Jodi Picoultish.

Review: Four narrators tell the story: Jenna, Serenity, Virgil, and Alice, the lost mother, who tells a lot of the back story and gives out so much interesting information about elephants it feels like the book is worth reading just for that. The information about how elephants love their children and how deeply they grieve just made my heart sing. None of the characters seemed too realistic, though I found myself really cheering for Jenna and her quest. Virgil and Serenity seem a bit cliche, just what you'd expect from a private detective and a clairvoyant, though their back stories make them rather interesting characters, too. At one point there is some pretty creepy magical realism, which is hard to understand until the shocking conclusion. I'll tell you no more. You've got to read it to find out what happens.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.  

At 398 pages, I'm counting it as a big book for the challenge.


Monday, August 24, 2020

TTT: Questions I'd like to ask Jane Austen

TTT: What questions would you ask a favorite author if you could?


Jane Austen is my favorite author. I have read all the books she wrote and a whole lot of books about her. I still have some questions.

Miss Austen, I am delighted that you are joining me here today. Can I interest you in a cup of tea and a slice of apricot marmalade cake? I understand it is one of your family favorites. (Dinner with Mr. Darcy: Recipes Inspired by Jane Austen)

Let's start with a question I bet no one has ever asked you before. Was tea-drinking popular in your day as it is now in the UK? I read somewhere that the concept of "afternoon tea" didn't really start until the 1840s, (The History of Afternoon Tea) which is several decades after your death. However, I visited Twinings Tea Shop, at 216 Strand Avenue, when I was recently in London and I understand it was opened long before your birth, in 1706. (Original Twinings Tea Shop) Did you and your family drink tea every day or just on special occasions?

Secondly, I'd like to know what you thought or felt about the politics of the day. You were born the year before the American Revolution started and you were thirteen when the French Revolution began, yet you barely mention anything about either of them in your books, if at all. Were you not interested in war as a subject or was a broader reason that women, in general, did not talk about war much? We certainly see glimpses of an interest in the topic of politics in your History of England written when you were a teenager. But that book was meant to be a satire, correct? (The Many Ways...)

Your brother Henry wrote about your writing process after your death, saying that your books sprang from you fully formed. According to him, your “composition” was “rapid and correct,” a flow of words that “cost her nothing,” washing through you to appear, as “everything” you wrote appeared, “finished from her pen.” That isn't true, is it? He was just bragging about a sister he was proud of, I imagine, or felt like he needed to hide something. Tell me about your writing process and why you think Henry wanted to cover up the fact that you had to work at writing, like all authors do. (The Many Ways...)

I am a big fan of the movie made about your relationship with Tom Lefroy called "Becoming Jane." In the movie we are told that you and Tom loved each other and nearly ran off to be married. In the end you stopped it because you knew that a marriage to you, a woman without a dowry, would mean impoverishment for his whole family and they relied on him. Was anything in the movie true? I think I can speak for all Jane Austen fans, we all hope it is true (the love part, anyway!)

Speaking of Lefroy, the wikipedia page about him suggests that you wrote Pride and Prejudice during the same time period as when you two were busy flirting with each other. It also suggests that you patterned Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy after the two of you. Is that true? If so, were you, personality-wise, more like Elizabeth or Mr Darcy? (Wikipedia)

Everyone has a favorite novel from among your six. What was your favorite of your own books? I vacillate between Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion as my favorites, though I also really like Mansfield Park. Heck, I like them all. While we are talking about favorites, who were your favorite authors/books? (Yarra Plenty Regional Library.)

We enjoyed the miniseries created from your final and unfinished book, Sanditon. But I have a feeling the script didn't go where you planned on taking the book. Please tell my readers the whole plot for Sanditon and how you imagined it at its completion

Of course, we will never know for certain what disease led to your death but I have seen a suggestion that it was Addison's disease. Take a look at the list of symptoms for that disease. (Mayo Clinic) Did you experience any of those symptoms in your last few months of life? It's a pity that your life was cut short. But perhaps, like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, your relatively early death has led to part of your mystique that has lasted over 200 years. We love your books but know so little about you as a person.

Okay, just one more question. The home where you lived in Chawton is now preserved as a museum. In one room is the actual desk you used when composing your classic novels. It is so tiny. Did you ever consider getting something larger or did you just spread out onto the dining room table when you needed more space? See photo below. I am not even sure if we should call what you used a "desk."


Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Would you like another slice of apricot marmalade cake before you go? No? Oh, I see. I used too much salt and the apricots taste fake. Yes, well, Thanks again!


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Sunday Salon, August 23rd

 Ian is not quite three years old, but he knows how to wear a mask!

Weather: It has been lightly raining occasionally on Friday and Saturday. A needed relief from the dry conditions of our summer weather.

This week: Let's see, what did I do this week? Oh, I remember. I watched the Democratic National Convention four nights in a row followed by listening to all the talking heads discuss it afterwards. See my suggestions for viewing the high points below, if you didn't get a chance to see it all.

Book Clubs: Both of my book clubs are back in operation, meeting at my house, sitting outside on the covered deck, while wearing masks. It is good to be with other humans again, even in these limited and careful interactions. SOTH book club discussed WHY I JUMP written by a thirteen-year-old autistic boy. RHS GALS book club will meet on Wednesday to discuss VALENTINE, a disturbing view of the ways women are treated and mistreated by men, but a hopeful book because the women are strong and determined.


  • Completed this week--
    • Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison. Our class ended on Tuesday. It was a valuable experience reading this and discussing in community. E-book.
    • Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime by Roger Housden. One of the books in the "Ten Poems" series, it is a reread for me. Poetry is what I can read these days. Print.
    • Tinkers by Paul Harding. A Pulitzer Prize winner which I didn't care for at all. Print.
  • Currently Reading---
    • Given: Poems by Wendall Berry. This is my first time reading poems by this famous poet. Print. 20% complete.
    • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. A cute book narrated by the cat. (I know "travelling" is misspelled but that's the way it is on the cover.) Translated from Japanese. Print. 18% complete.

Good News:

1. Highlights from the Democratic National Convention (DNC):

  • Day One
  • Day Two
  • Day Three
    • Prince Royce sings "Stand By Me"
    • Hillary Clinton and Keep Rising Women, a montage of women (fast forward to 51 min.)
    • Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony and President Barack Obama speech (same link, fast forward to 1:31:00)
    • Meet Kamala Harris and her acceptance speech (fast forward to 1:56:00)
    • Jennifer Hudson sings "A Change Is Gonna Come" (fast forward to 2:22:00)
  • Day Four - Watch the whole thing, if you didn't get to see it live! I know it is long, but it will make you fall in love with Biden and what he represents in contrast to Trump.
    • The Pledge of Allegiance (led by a darling little boy) (fast forward to 30 min, 30 sec), followed by our National Anthem sung by The Chicks.
    • Sister Simone Campbell delivers the invocation (32:47), followed by Sen. Chris Coons on Biden as "Man of Faith and Conscience."
    • Tribute to John Lewis (44 min), followed immediately by "Glory" performed by John Legend and Common.
    • Presidential Historian Jon Meacham (who wants to be on the right side of history by endorsing Joe Biden) (54:50), followed immediately by Rep. Deb Haaland, a 35th generation American.
    • Brayden Harrington, a 13-year old boy Biden helped confront his stuttering (1:46.54)
    • Meet Joe Biden intro video, followed by his acceptance speech (1:56:00) and the ensuing outdoor, socially-distanced celebration complete with fireworks over the parking lot, concluding with benedictions by a Rabbi, a priest, and an Imam (not the beginning of a joke!)
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as emcee, roasts Trump (highlights). (Very funny!)



4. Joe Biden's super power is empathy. Follow this link to the original interaction Biden had with Brayden Harrington about stuttering. (DKos)

5. The #BlueWave2020 is coming Nov. 3rd. Watch the trailer.

 Other Good News 

1. LeBron James altered a MAGA hat demanding justice for Breonna Taylor (Chicago Sun Times)

2. Most Americans say they couldn't make it through the COVID lockdown without their feline friends. (GNN) We are so grateful that our daughter has two feline friends, Fred and George, that she got three days before lowdown started. Fred (red harness) and George (grey harness) are good companions.

 3. Just sayin', we need a US Postal Service.

4. The pandemic has been good for animals. "Pandas mate in Hong Kong zoo after ten years of trying, possibly because no one was watching." (BBC) "There is an 'elephant baby boom' in one Kenyan park." (NPR) Can't really give the coronavirus credit for this because elephants are pregnant for two years, but it is still good news!

On the Lighter Side:

A. John Legend sings a preview of the DNC Convention. You will recognize the tune, but the words are new:

B. The former President of Mexico, Vincente Fox, is running for President of the United States. This is hilarious, if not a little crass. Great snark!

 C. Oh boy. Ain't this the truth?

D. This is so sad, so selfish...

E. After Brayden spoke about Biden's help with his stuttering, I'm sure Trump wants to do something similar.

Closing comment: After the DNC this week I am feeling cautiously hopeful. How about you? Please leave me a message below or on my Facebook link. Thank you. -Anne

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Review and quotes: WEATHER by Jenny Offill

Title: Weather by Jenny Offill

Book Beginnings quote:

Friday56 quote:

Summary: Lizzie Benson, the book's narrator, lives in Brooklyn with her husband Ben and son Eli. She works as a college librarian, though she got the job through back channels and never did the course work for it, so the book is filled with funny pieces of information she has unearthed on the job. An example is the Book Beginnings quote which she found doing research on the early days of this country. She dropped out of graduate school to look after her drug-addicted brother and her life is filled with a rising sense of anxiety after the 2016 election and the rise of right-wing strongmen and the effects that climate change is having on life. "This potent, appealing little book is about how we weather this sense of doom — with humor, incredulity, panic, disaster preparedness, or, best of all, action" (NPR).

Review: I listened to Weather on audiobook. In the beginning I didn't understand what was happening because I wasn't seeing the spaces on the pages where her thoughts were separated. Finally, at some point, I just settled in and enjoyed the zaniness of Lizzie's thoughts and could appreciate how disjointed most of them were. Don't we all do that? We are thinking about one thing and then we see something, let's say its a cat, and suddenly our thoughts veer off in a new direction related to felines. The whole book of Weather is like that. Lizzie's thought populate the book and most of her thoughts are disjointed and many of them are hilarious.

The book reviewer for NPR describes Offill as a "master of the glancing blow." So many of her lines could be used in a comedy routine. Here are a few examples: Her nosy neighbor slips and falls during jury duty on a case about slipping and falling; she and her brother are nearly run over in the park, when they complain, the offending driver yells "You and your precious lives."; even the Friday56 quote about the family being afraid they'll see their father die on TV. Everything is a potential zinger.
This is what she has to say, for example, about coming down from a flirtation that was "like a wartime romance. Minus the war. Minus the sex": "And then it is another day and another and another but I will not go on about this because no doubt you too have experienced time." (NPR)
I really liked this book but recognize that it is probably too quirky for most readers. But if you are one of those folks who likes something a little off kilter, this is the book for you.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   


Wednesday, August 19, 2020


Yesterday was the meeting for one of my book clubs. We sat in the shade of my deck, all of us wearing our masks and discussed an odd book: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism by Naoki Higashida.

Using an alphabet grid, the severely autistic Naoki Higshida constructs words, sentences, and thoughts about what it is like to be autistic. He cannot communicate with spoken words so he has to painstakingly point to the letters on the grid which a tutor or his parent writes down. In the book Higashida answers questions like,  "Why don't you make eye-contact when you talk to someone?" or "Why do like spinning around?" His answers are insightful and disarming. In response to the question "Why do you jump?" Higashida answers, “The motion makes me want to change into a bird and fly off to some faraway place. But constrained by ourselves and by the people around us, all we can do is tweet-tweet, flap our wings and hop around in a cage.” Higashida talks about how he must do things even though he knows it will make others angry and how that makes him feel. He urges his readers to not give up on him and to be patient and to love him anyway.

In  2007 the book was originally published in Japanese and it was translated into English in 2013 by an Irish author, David Mitchell (Black Swan Green), and his wife, who is Japanese. They have an autistic child and felt compelled to share this amazing book with the English-speaking world.  In the forward Mitchell says the book is proof that the standard definition of autism is wrong, that autism’s obvious restrictions of socialization and communication “are not symptoms of autism but consequences.” He also compliments Higashida for his writing skills. Mitchell has said that Higashida “did the heavy lifting” from the Japanese, and that he “provided the stylistic icing on the cake.”

But when you read the book it seems that Mitchell inserted a lot more than icing on the cake. Higashida who barely mentions anyone other than his mother and a teacher, keeps referring to "we" and "us" as though he is the spokesperson for all autism. It seemed so odd as to be jarring. How could someone who barely recognizes other people speak for everyone? And it made me wonder if Mitchell was inserting his own hopes for his own child into the text, making him an unreliable translator.

Sallie Tisdale, writing for the New York Times, and a mother of an autistic child herself says.
Mitchell writes that reading “The Reason I Jump,” he “felt as if, for the first time, our own son was talking to us about what was happening inside his head.” No parent of an autistic person — and I include myself here — can help longing for such a chance, and looking for it wherever we can. We have to be careful about turning what we find into what we want. (NYT)
That said, the book was interesting and to some degree generated a good discussion though few members had much to contribute from personal experience. Several gals in the group were teachers and all had experienced working with autistic students but none as profound as Higashida. One gal homed in on the section where Higashida talks about autistic people as if they are from another planet or from a different time, sent here with an important message for society. Living inside his head through the pages of the book, one could really see how that was true. He truly seemed to be from a different place or time. We also learned the Higashida, now in his twenties, has gone on to write more books and is a also the author of a blog.

SOTH Book Club, August 2020

Monday, August 17, 2020

Tanka-poems reviews---poetry and meditation books

Thanks to Lark Writes for giving me the inspiration to write short, poetic book reviews. Hers are called 'Haiku Reviews.' I'll make mine a little longer and call them tanka-poetry reviews. Similar to haikus, tanka poems are short, using only 31-syllables in the cadence pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. I'm catching up here on past-due reviews.

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook by Dana Velden (Rodale Books, 2015)

Everyone must eat.
Velden gives meditations
To help center cooks
as they make food for all.
I needed this book right now.

Ten Poems to Change Your Life Again and Again by Roger Housden (Harmony Books, 2007)

Housden highlights ten
poems, gives insights/comments.
Poems come alive---
stars twinkling in night sky.
Empowered to change my life.

Blue Iris: Poems and Essays by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press, 2004)

Favorite poet.
Focused on nature, flowers.
Essay, "A Blessing" 
recounts a time as a teen,
remembering the beauty.

Don't Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith

Volatile poems---
Blacks speak to us from grave...
What was their death for?
Other poems left me flat,
themes I could not relate to.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Wonderful remembrances and the blessing

My sister and me at Suttle Lake United Methodist Camp, 1973
In Blue Iris: Poems and Essays Mary Oliver recounts an event from her childhood in an essay titled "A Blessing" which had a lasting effect on her life. As a teenager she and a friend camped alongside a river for several weeks. They received the blessing from their parents for the weeks they were away from home. Their days were full of exploring nature and their evenings were spent sitting by the campfire telling stories. Near the end of the essay Oliver expresses her gratitude that she was allowed the freedom to explore nature on her own terms, without parental supervision. This camping trip influenced the rest of her life and her work as a poet.

I, too, was given a similar blessing from my parents. Every summer, starting at age thirteen through eighteen my parents paid for me to go to church camp. By high school I was attending two week-long camps per summer. One year I went to three. Not once, until now, did I even consider the financial cost to my folks that came with this blessing.

I absolutely loved church camp. I loved everything about it -- staying in a cabin full of other girls my age, being in a small group with boys and girls and our counselors, meals eaten together in the lodge, singing, campfires, nature walks, meditations, and friends. So many of my happiest memories from my early years happened at camp. And many of my oldest friends I met or got to know better at camp.

Normally I don't spend a lot of time reminiscing about high school days, but two events this past week brought some wonderful memories forward.

First, my mother recently gave me a batch of old photos she found in some boxes. Among the photographic treasures were two pictures of a church youth leadership team called SYMCO that I was part of during my senior year. The thirteen of us on the council were responsible, along with our advisors, for planning and implementing a summer camp we called "Workshop." In addition, our team met once a month at various churches around the state to provide leadership and enthusiasm for youth group programs. It was a tremendous experience being part of SYMCO and I became very close with the other twelve members. With the reappearance of these photos I felt compelled to find my former teammates. I contacted one person from the team, Sue, who I've stayed in touch with all these years. She remembered everyone's name or knew where to find them. With that information I posted on Facebook hoping to generate a reaction. So far I've found ten of the twelve and four have responded to me. I am thrilled at the prospect of renewed friendships.

Secondly, another camping buddy, Greg, created a private Facebook page this week for long ago youth group members from all over the Oregon-Idaho conference. Since all of us were active in our church youth groups in the 1970s, we are all in our sixties now. To a person, everyone loved camp. One of my oldest best friends, Ken, remarked that he loved camp so much and all his best friends were campers as well. I think it was our shared experiences that made us and kept us as best friends. Another friend, Kris, concurred that many of her happiest moments happened at camp. It is just a thrill reconnecting with these people. My older sister, Kathy, and I had a long chat this week about how much church camp meant to us. The photo (above) of the two of us at Suttle Lake Camp was taken when I was a sophomore and she was a senior in high school. We were not only siblings, we were also (and still are) great friends.

Which brings me back to the blessing. I just got off the phone with my mother. I thanked her for the blessing she and Dad gave me by funding my ability to attend so many camp weeks each year. Mom, who is now 91 years old, said she didn't think camp was very expensive in those days but was happy to acknowledge my thanks. She remembered going to church camp at Suttle Lake as a child and can vividly remember many things she did there. I have very vivid memories from my camping experiences, too. I have been richly blessed by my church camp experiences and continue to be blessed by friendships formed or cemented there.

My very favorite church camp location was Suttle Lake in the Oregon Cascades. The website describes Suttle Lake United Methodist camp as a "Sacred Space." I wholeheartedly agree. The website also has an archive of old records and photos from the early days. Who knows, maybe my mom is in one of the photos from the 1940s. Wouldn't that be perfect? Because of its location in the mountains it was also a wonderful spot for winter camping. My husband and I have figured out that we both attended the same snow camp at Suttle Lake one year when we were in junior high, though we didn't know each other at the time.

Camp Magruder is located between a small lake and the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon Coast.
My second favorite camping spot was Camp Magruder on the Oregon Coast. Their website assures us that camping will "keep the fire burning." Ain't that the truth! My camping experiences have laid the foundation for my lifelong faith and interests in spiritual matters. I not only went to youth group camps at Magruder but every year our church congregation attended a family camp there over Labor Day weekend during all my formative years. What a wonderful way to get to know people from your church -- camping together.

Camp Latgawa UMC Camp is located in Southern Oregon. I not only attended camp there as a teenager but I also have very clear memories of being there as a kid when my parents hosted a camp for college students. The camp's motto is "finding something special at the end of the road." It is a truth universally acknowledged that when we leave the paved roads of our lives we often can find ourselves. I did that through camping.

Apparently my first camping location, Loon Lake, is no longer a United Methodist camp. I have really fond memories of living with other campers in a teepee beside a stream for the week-long camp. It was my first and only experience living in a teepee. What fun! To get to this camp a barge had to ferry campers across the lake as it was only accessible by boat. In addition to teen camp, my parents took the family to Loon Lake camp for several years when they were hosting college camps. My siblings and I were like the camp mascots.

Such wonderful remembrances! Such a blessing!


PS: Please share your camping stories below in the comment section.

PPS: Here is a shout-out to a few (out of many, many) friends that I remember sharing camping fun with:
Loon Lake: Linda W. and Kay L.
Camp Latgawa (which has been renamed since we attended camp there): Sue T., Sherrill B., Linda L.
Camp Magruder: Gerry H., Ken W., Andy G., all my SYMCO partners, Paul L., Rita S., Greg W. and so many more.
Suttle Lake: All of the above plus Tami F., Lael H., Ken B., Michael B., Kathy K.
Family Camp at Magruder: Many of the above and Barb S., Kristen B.
Counselors and advisors: Betty and Wayne H., Tom T., Michael S., Norm B., Wes T., Max, Bob H., plus many I have forgotten your names but not your kindness and devotion. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
For making it all possible for me to attend camp so often: Bob and Shirley K.---Mom and Dad! I love you!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Sunday Salon...August 16, 2020

Photos from our Oregon vacation: Ian and his Dad sunbathing; Ian in his new floating car; Ian getting a hug on a cold day from Auntie; a hike to Tumalo Falls with masks; A view of Mt. Hood from Timberline Ski Area.

Weather: Hot. This is indoor weather (we have air-conditioning.)

Vacation: We spent a week in Central Oregon with my family earlier this month. The weather was beautiful, if not a little cool on occasion. We wore our masks when we visited other family members and didn't share any meals except when socially distanced and outside. The arrangements were surreal but we did fine and had a lovely time. One good thing about the pandemic is we are getting out and hiking more than in past years. Our hike to Tumalo Falls was so spectacular. We felt lucky to be able to explore the falls with social distancing.

  • Completed:
    • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. The first book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy, a mystery. Audiobook listened to in the car going and coming from vacation.
    • Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook by Dana Velden. Part of the library haul of twelve books. Print.
    • Blue Iris: Poems and Essays by Mary Oliver. Some days all I can manage to read is a few poems. I'm grateful for these. Print.
    • Ten Poems to Change Your Life Again and Again by Roger Housden. A reread. My soul is fed by poetry. Print.
  • Currently reading:
    • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I took a pass on reading this several years ago for book club and have regretted it ever since. Now I am listening to the audiobook. 25% complete.
    • Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison. We are reading this as part of a Zoom class for church. I have enjoyed the group discussions based on the text. E-book. 71% complete. 
    • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. Another book from the library haul. This book is written in verse about Syrian refugees. Print. 21% complete.
    • Don't Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith. BLM themed. E-book. 14% complete.
    • Tinkers by Paul Harding. I've been reading this little book for months. I decided to own it so that I might actually finish it. Print. 47% complete.
Good news and other musings:
1. Kamala Harris is Joe Biden's running mate. Yay! A woman and a person of color!!!! Here is why else this is an historic choice. (HuffPost) and (CNN)

1A. Biden and Harris together for the first time as running mates. Don't miss Biden's introduction of his VP choice, followed by Harris' first speech as the soon-to-be Democratic nominee for Vice President. (C-SPAN)

2. Listen to Neil Young's (remember him from the Vietnam War protest era?) updated song for this time: LOOKIN' FOR A LEADER 2020

3. When Trump attacked Biden for his faith, Christians (even some Republicans) responded: (HuffPost) And Biden said:
“My faith teaches me to love my neighbor as I would myself while President Trump only seeks to divide us. My faith teaches me to care for the least among us while President Trump seems to only be concerned about his gilded friends. My faith teaches me to welcome the stranger while President Trump tears families apart. My faith teaches me to walk humbly while President Trump teargassed peaceful protestors so he could walk over to a church for a photo op.”
4. It is very important that we all defend the US Postal Service which is under attack by Trump and his surrogates. Watch this short and upbeat video about the US Postal Service from "People for the American Way": Defend the US Post Office

5. After Trump mispronounced 'Yosemite' when he was talking about the National Parks, a Jewish museum created a T-Shirt with the phrase" "Yo Semite" to match the mispronunciation. So far the museum has made over $30,000 in sales from the t-shirts.
(The Hill)This cracks me up!

6. Another song to listen to, or to play in the background as you read. It is an oldie but a goodie and great reminder: Unless everyone is free no one is really free. Solomon Burke -"None Of Us Are Free"

7. Many previous Trump voters are jumping ship. Join them!
8. The Biden campaign will not put up with the sexist attacks bound to be thrown at Harris, just as other female candidates have endured in the past. The campaign knows more attacks are coming and plans to hit racist/sexist comments head-on.
The posture by Biden’s campaign and women’s groups is meant to be far more aggressive than the way gender attacks were dealt with in 2016, when Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major political party, often tried to downplay or ignore such gibes and was not taken seriously on occasions when her team did point to sexism. It’s also a reflection of the changed environment since then, as women expanded their political power with nationwide marches and the #MeToo movement ushered in fights against sexism in business, the media and politics. (WaPo)
9. 1619 Project weekly assignment reading:
  • Capitalism, by Matthew Desmond [Start on the plantation to understand the brutality of American Capitalism.]
10. Join the efforts to get Biden elected. Don't just sit there. Do something. (Windivisible)

11. The Democratic National Convention starts next Monday, August 17 and runs through August 20. Here is the schedule of who will be speaking each night starting at 6 PM, PDT. (VOX)

12. Living statues in Portland push a satirical response to Trump's actions. (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
On the lighter side:

A. Tired of no/few sports programs on TV? Try this: The Marble League. Very fun and creative. Thanks to my daughter for turning us on to to this awesome "sporting" event. (YouTube)

B. Jonathan Swan interviewed Trump for Axios a week ago. It did not go well for Trump. I'm feeling #8 right now. How about you?
 C. I thought this was an appropriate photo description of the year since I just finished reading a King novel and we all know how terrifying they are.

 D. But at least we should lay off the teasing about pumpkin spice latte items...

E. You all know what happens to the guys in red shirts on Star Trek, right?


G.  My daughter shared this funny Sesame Street 2020 calendar. It seems about right to me. I'm trying to not behave in a grouchy manner, but I know I fail at times.

H. Trumped expressed interest in having his head carved into Mt. Rushmore. See F above -- I'm getting plenty of exercise about this. (The Indian Times) (Snopes)



For your enjoyment:

Required cat photo: Fred (top) and George (bottom) are glad their mistress is home from vacation. If we had hearing-vision we could listen to them purring their happiness.

Ian reading to Bingley: Our dog had to have surgery on his leg for a luxating patella (moving kneecap) this week. Our daughter and grandson came over to visit. It was Ian's idea to read to Bingley. He is reading MOO BAA LA LA LA by Sandra Boynton. Doesn't it look like the dog is listening?

I am sorry for how long this post is. I had so much to share and could have shared more! Please leave a comment so I know you have visited. Thank you.