"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, March 29, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite poetry books


Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Poetry Books

Today's topic, 'Places in Books I'd Love to Live', just didn't interest me and I think I've done a similar list several years ago. So today I'm off the board getting ready for April and Poetry Month.

1. Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner---This very well may be the book that made a poetry lover out of me. Every poem in the collection was selected by an educator for having some significance in their career. The poem was displayed on one side of the page with the educator's explanation of its significance on the other. Many, many, many of the poems and explanations spoke directly to my heart and how I felt about being an educator.


2. Ten Poems to Change Your Life edited by Roger Housden---I found this small volume of poetry in my library and after reading it quickly devoured all the books in the "Ten Poems" collection. Roger Housden has unlocked the poetry code for me. He selected ten poems, which he identifies as life changing poems and spends a few pages explaining each one. I realized as I read his descriptions that I never really knew how to read poetry before, so the only poems I ever really liked were the ones that I could figure out without too much fuss. Out of the ten poetry books I list today, all of the books in his series could make the list but I just selected one, the first I read, as a place holder all of them. Here is my original blog post written after my first time through the book in 2013: Ten Poems to Change Your Life review. I actually like the review I wrote for a subsequent volume better. Please feel free to check that one out, too: Ten Poems to Set You Free. Hey, while you are at it help yourself to one more, Ten Poems to Heal Your Heart.


3. The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins--- Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets because his poems are so accessible. One doesn't need to have a MFA to understand his poems. I always get the idea when I read Collins that he is an accidental poet. It is as if he has to write down a poem or two every few days to survive, so he writes about whatever pops into his mind. The poems themselves aren't really stream-of-consciousness but the ideas for them seem to be. The first poem in The Trouble with Poetry, is a tease. In "You, Reader", Collins brags that he wrote down a poem that you or I should have, but he got to it first. I wonder how you are going to feel / When you find out / that I wrote this instead of you, ... Collins makes me laugh, too. He muses in the poem which is also the title of the book, "The Trouble With Poetry", that the trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry. Isn't that the point? No wonder Collins was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-3. He is a good ambassador for poetry.


4. I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy by Hafez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky---Where have I been? Hafez, a fourteenth century poet from Persia, has obviously been around a lot longer than me, yet I just recently discovered him. I loved every minute with this small volume of poetry. A poet is someone / Who can pour Light into a spoon, / Then raise it / To nourish / Your beautiful parched, holy mouth.  I do feel like poetry nourishes my parched soul.


5. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver---Oliver is my favorite poet. I've read over a dozen of her poetry collections and have at least that many left to go. I want to read everything she has written. Dog Song is a favorite among favorites because I am a huge dog fan just like Oliver.  Steadfastness, it seems, / is more about dogs than it is about us. / One of the reasons we love them so much.


6. Strong is Your Hand: Poems by Galway Kinnell---
Kinnell is remembered as a poet that the average person can read and understand. I'll toast to that! I appreciate poets who write poems that inspire me and ones I can recite.


7.  Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine---
Citizen is part poetry, part essay, part personal, part collective experiences, part historical, and completely heartbreaking and maddening. In it poet Claudia Rankine uses her talent to give voice to the black experience(s) in America. Most of the poems are short and written in free form so, at first glance, I wasn't aware that I was even reading poetry. But the choice usage of perfect words just piled up to leave me clutching my chest because my heart was breaking over and over.

8.  God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant---What if God was able to experience everything from a human point of view?  Would he get a dog? Climb a mountain? Watch TV?  What would amaze him the most about our world? Hands? Elephants? Riding in a boat? GOD WENT TO INDIA / To see the elephants./ God adores elephants. / He thinks they are the best thing / He ever made. / They do everything / He hoped for: / They love their children, / they don't kill, /they mourn their dead. / This last thing is important/ to God...Each and every poem causes me to stop, to reflect, to smile, or to cry.  I love this little book. I love the idea of God experiencing life on earth as a human, which relates to me and my experiences. Rylant writes for children, but this adult loves her poems, too.


9. How Lovely the Ruins: Inspirational Poems and Words for Difficult Times edited by Spiegel and Grau.--- Reading this small volume was like taking a long drink of water on a hot day, refreshing and necessary. The title pretty much tells you why. We are experiencing bad times like no other and while we are home alone or feeling isolated, how refreshing to read poems and essays which speaks right to those feelings.


10. Devotions by Mary Oliver---I had to add another volume of poetry by my fav! Devotion is a collection of Oliver's best poems. It is a tome but one to be treasured.


Love has taken away all my practices
And filled me with poetry.   -Rumi

-Anne

Great Books and Series for Middle Grade Girls


Great Books and Series for Middle Grade Girls

I just fielded a request from a friend. Could I recommend some books for her 5th grade daughter who is finished with the Harry Potter series and the Rick Riordan books and needs some new book ideas.I know that kids like to read the latest and greatest books, which I may not be aware of personally, so this list will be a mixture of what I know personally and what I can glean from the Internet.

As a disclaimer: I created a similar list for boys a few years ago. You can find it here. There is obviously some crossover interest so I may include some of the choices from that list here.


The Flavia De Luce series by Alan Bradley

    You may think this is a weird choice to begin my list because The Flavia De Luce series is not specifically written for children/teens. But the protagonist is a plucky eleven-year-old amateur detective and a chemistry nut. She has such a unique voice and truly is a great example of a kid who is willing to make her own way. A friend, who is a 6th grade teacher, always reads the first book in the series out loud to her class each school year. There are currently eleven books in the series. I've read the first four. Start with Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.


Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George 

    See where it all began with the start to Jessica Day George's bestselling series about a castle that can rebuild itself and the children who defend it. The author said she was approached by her publisher to write a funny book/series for middle grade readers. I say that funny is good and we need more humor in our lives. I hope you give this series a try and then let me know what you think. This is a five book series, each featuring a different day of the week. Target audience is 4-6th graders.


Warriors: The Prophesy Begins series by Erin Hunter

    This series has been around for a while and it has many, many books which have spun off the original six-book series but it is worth a peek. I've never seen a series which created such a devoted following among its readers. The books are about a clan of feral cats who have epic adventures and live in a thrilling fantasy world. Target audience 3rd-7th grade.


The Song of the Lioness Quartet series by Tamora Pierce

    Some series stand the test of time, others don't. This fantasy series, started in the 1980s, seems to have withstood the test of time and is a wonderful find for girls looking for a strong female protagonist and one who can stand up to everything dished out to her in the world made for men. The four book series starts with Alanna: The First Adventure. Like Rick Riordan, Tamora Pierce has several other series so if you like this one you can explore her other series, too. All of the series are short with only 2-5 books in them so they can be finished up fast and then you can move on. You can explore her other series here on Goodreads. The target audience is ages 10-14. 


Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente

    This is a charming different fairy tale series! It’s a Five Book Series and begins with a 12 year old girl living an ordinary life in Omaha. But the book is far from ordinary – it’s an intelligent and original fantasy series about wonderful and quirky adventures in fairyland. I read the first two books and enjoyed them very much. (This is a repeat recommendation from my other list.) The titles of the books are so imaginative, too. Start with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The target audience is for ages 9-12. 


Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

    "For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite."  I met this author several years ago just when the series was getting started and I'm delighted to know that this series, as several others by the author, have become very popular. This series has five or six books in it and the first one is simply titled Fablehaven. If you like this series than try Dragonwatch, Beyonders, or Candy Shop Wars. Check out the author's webpage. Target audience is for grades 3-8.


The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

    I read this series when I was a girl, then I read the seven books to my daughters when they were young, and lastly we re-read them together later when the girls were teenagers/adults. This series is clearly a family favorite. It all starts with a game of hide-and-seek and a wardrobe that just so happens to be a portal to another land. In Narnia the Pevensie children meet many unique animals, like talking Beavers, fauns, and a talking mouse with a sword. But the most beloved is Aslan, the talking lion, who saves them and Narnia. They are referred to as books for everybody. We have two sets in our church library. I urge you to read the books in the order that Lewis wrote them because The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the best introduction to the series. Read in this order:

    1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
    2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)
    3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
    4. The Silver Chair (1953)
    5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)
    6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
    7. The Last Battle (1956)


The Devlin Quick Mysteries by Linda Fairstein

    It appears that publishers think every kid loves fantasy books. If you are tired of fantasy, why not try a mystery instead? This short, three-book series is about Devlin Quick, a twelve-year-old girl who is strong and smart and loves solving mysteries. Start with the first book, In the Lion's Den. Target audience is 3rd-8th grade. 


DC Super Hero Girls by Lisa Yee

    Like comic books and strong women/girls? Try this series of six stories about super heroes who happen to be girls. Readers of all ages can fly high with the all-new adventures of Wonder Woman™, Supergirl™, Batgirl™, and some of the world’s most iconic female super heroes as high-schoolers! Check out the details here. 

Track Series by Jason Reynolds

    At the recommendation from another librarian friend I am adding this series to the list. Jason Reynolds is an amazing author, one I hope you don't miss. This series has four books in it: Ghost. Patina. Sunny. Lu. About a "fast but fiery group of kids from wildly different backgrounds, chosen to compete on an elite track team. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves." The book details say the target audience age is 10 to 99 years old. I hope you fit into that category. ­čśâ

Stand-alone books that are great choices for middle grade girls:

Multicultural Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading: Summerlost

Summerlost by Allie Condie

After her father and younger brother were killed in accident, Cedar and what’s left of her family are spending the summer in Iron Creek. The Asian American girl befriends local boy Leo who introduces her to the renowned Summerlost theater festival. Cedar gets a job at the festival and soon finds herself surrounded by mysteries: That of a deceased Hollywood actress haunting the halls of Summerlost, and that of the strange gifts Cedar keeps receiving. Summerlost is a tender and touching middle grade novel about processing loss and finding friendship.

Multicultural Children's Books About Fabulous Female Artists: A Girl Named Faithful Plum

A Girl Named Faithful Plum by Richard Bernstein

In 1977, 11-year-old Zhongmei traveled for several days to attend the open auditions of the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy. Against all odds, the poor country girl beat out 60,000 other girls, became a famous dancer, and made her New York debut with her own dance company when she was in just her late 20s. Written by Zhongmei’s husband, A Girl Named Faithful Plum is a fascinating account of one girl’s journey from the remote farmlands of China to the world’s stages. (Nonfiction)

Multicultural Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading: Listen, Slowly

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Instead of spending her holidays at the beach, Californian girl Mai has to accompany her grandmother to Vietnam. Her parents are hoping that the trip will connect their out-of-touch daughter with her roots, but Mai struggles with the foreign country and its culture. Bestselling Listen, Slowly is an irresistible and poignant story about the true meaning of home, culture, family and friends. The paperback edition includes a letter from the author, a Vietnamese glossary and a pronunciation guide.

Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books: Merci Suarez

Merci Su├írez Changes Gears by Meg Medina 

New Kid

Sixth-Grader Merci Suarez and her older brother are the only scholarship students at their private school in Florida. They have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. Added to that Merci is being targeted by a jealous girl and at home, her beloved grandfather is acting increasingly strange. Merci feels very alone with her confusion and worry and tries to find her own way of navigating the difficult situation. Award-winning Merci Su├írez Changes Gears is a  heartfelt yet humorous coming-of-age novel about change, authenticity and family connection

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Seventh-grader Jordan Banks’ passion is drawing cartoons about his life. He’d love to go to art school but his parents decide to send him to a prestigious private school known for its academics instead. Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds. New Kid is an engaging graphic novel about fitting in and staying true to yourself.

Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books: The Length Of a String

The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

Imani is adopted and she knows exactly what she wants as her big bat mitzvah gift: to find her birth parents. Being Black in her mostly White Jewish community, she has always wondered where she came from. When her great-grandma Anna passes away, Imani discovers her old diary from 1941, the year she was twelve and fled Nazi-occupied Luxembourg alone. Anna’s diary records her journey to America and her new life with an adoptive family of her own. As Imani reads the diary, she begins to see her family, and her place in it, in a whole new way. The Length Of A String is a gripping novel about identity, family and belonging.

I found the ideas for the stand-alone books from Colours of Us: 50 Multi-Cultural Books for Middle Grades. Check out the list here for more ideas. 

In addition you might want to check out this list of Books for Middle Graders by Asian American or Pacific Islander authors. Click this link at Wild Rumpus.

 I hope you find some books you like among these recommendations. Be sure to talk to your school or public librarians for more ideas. Happy reading!

-Anne

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Salon...Palm Sunday 2021

Don and Bingley on a walk. Mt. Rainier in the background.

Weather:
Rainy and windy.

 

Palm Sunday: Church on Zoom leaves a little to be desired when one is used to all the fun of a usual Palm Sunday service with the little kids marching around with palm branches, but our pastor encouraged involvement and most parents filmed their kids waving the branches around inside their house or outside. For the children's sermon, the pastor played this Lego Palm Sunday video. I love it!


Completed Books: I completed three books this week, all poetry books by Mary Oliver. In fact, throughout this post I am including one-line quotes from several of her poems.


Books in progress:
I am working on seven other books! I decided this week to read a little of each one each day, to treat these project books, like a project. Ha! Check my progress in the graphic below. Dune, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, and A Promised Land are all audiobooks, the last two I'm listening to with my daughter or husband. Progress is so slow that way.

Family: Our dear 6-month grandson finally got some relief from his horrible eczema that was causing so much discomfort. His parents demanded that the doctor give them something prescription strength and almost overnight his rash diminished and he is able to calm down easier. In fact, on Friday while I was babysitting, he took a four-hour nap. Poor little guy can finally relax. While his brother was napping, Ian and I did preschool. We created a yarn cross project given us by church, painted rocks so we will be ready to hide them in the forest the next time we venture in, we hid and found plastic Easter eggs over and over, played several games, and read several books discovering a book, Put Me In the Zoo. That one got read three times. 



Suez Canal-Evergreen Memes:
I know that it isn't funny that a huge container ship is stuck in the Suez Canal, but the memes that others have created about it are hilarious. Here are a few (well, more than a few) of my favorites:

1.

2. 


3.

4.  


5. You may not be able to read the small print. It says, "A Diversity and Inclusion Workshop" vs Systemic Racism.


6.


7.

 

8.

 
9.For Pride and Prejudice fans...

10. And finally from the much maligned Dr. Suez Canal...

Puzzle Cat had no puzzles to work/mess-up this week:

-Anne

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Anne's Cookbook: Minestrone Soup with Chicken Meatballs


Anne's Cookbook: Minestrone soup with chicken meatballs 

I found a similar recipe on the Internet and adjusted it to fit my family and our likes/dislikes. Not sure you like leeks? Try them the first time and find out. They cook down so beautifully and add such a nice flavor and bouquet to the broth...even my onion-hating daughter liked the flavor of the broth and didn't try to dodge the leeks. Sometimes a yummy and warming bowl of soup is just the ticket for a meal. I recommend this one for both comfort and for wholesomeness.

Ingredients and directions for meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 T. chives, snipped into small pieces
  • 1/2 t. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 t. oregano
  • 1/4 t. basil
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground pepper 

Mix all the ingredients together making sure to incorporate all the ingredients well. Form into small meatballs. I weighed mine for consistency of size which is helpful during the baking process. I aimed for 15 grams which is about the size of a one inch diameter meatball. Place on a baking sheet covered in foil or parchment paper. Bake for 18 minutes at 400 degrees. While the meatballs are baking, start the soup broth.

Ingredients and directions for soup:

  • 1 leek, sliced thin (1/4th inch) of the white and light green portion only
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or sliced thin
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 8 cups chicken broth (I used 4 cups store-bought chicken broth and 4 cups water plus 1 T Chicken-flavored Better than Bouillon)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup fresh spinach 
  • 1 cup uncooked pasta, I used rotini (spiral) shaped pasta.
  • 1/2-1 t. salt, to taste
  • 1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
  • Additional Parmesan cheese to sprinkle atop the soup

Heat the oil in a fry pan. Add the leek coins and saute 2-3 minutes, add garlic for the last minute. Add leeks and garlic to the chicken broth in a large pot. Add chopped carrots. Simmer. When the meatballs are done baking, add them to the soup base. Bring the soup base back up to boil. Add the uncooked pasta. Cook for additional ten minutes until the pasta is done, adding spinach the last minute to just past wilted stage.  Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with a slice of crusty bread and an orange wedge and you will have a very satisfying meal.



-Anne

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Review: THE TRURO BEAR AND OTHER ADVENTURES


Today in anticipation of April and National Poetry Month I read a collection of poems and essays by Mary Oliver called The Truro Bear and Other Adventures. The small volume contains many old favorites but introduces several new poems I've not encountered in other collections of Mary Oliver's works before. Whenever I read her poetry I am always struck by how she hides little gems with in her poems. I think I am reading about one thing and then she slips in a thought about death, or finding meaning, or relationships. For example in the poem "Five A.M. in the Pinewoods" she talks of following hoofprints into the forest and actually encountering two beasts (deer? elk?). It was such a lovely experience it seemed like a dream. Then she slips in these lines: I was thinking / so this is how you swim inward, / so this is how you flow outward, / so this is how you pray. She had a holy and spiritual experience I hadn't realized until I read these lines.  

In the poem "The Gift" the poet finds a shell called a Neptune. She holds it and imagines all the wonderful travels it has taken under the sea. Then these lines remind us that everything dies, but we can leave beauty behind: Ah yes, there was / that door/ that held only the eventual, inevitable / emptiness. // There's that--there's always that. / Still, what a house / to leave behind.

Another profound poem, "Alligator Poem", reminds me to be thankful for second chances. The poet thinks she is a goner as an alligator (in Florida) charges right at her as she slips and falls she is surprised to see the reptile continue on and jump into the water on a different mission. ...and in the end, / this isn't a poem about foolishness / but about how I rose from the ground / and saw the world as if for the second time, the way it really is

An old favorite, "The Summer Day" tells of how the poet passes a summer day outside enjoying nature. I don't know what a prayer is. / I do know how to pay attention... / Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? The poet reminds us to pay attention and not to squander any of the precious gifts we have been given. 

The last thirteen poems in the collection are "Percy" poems about her favorite little dog, Percy, named for the poet. As I read and delighted in them, my dog Bingley had finally resorted to sleeping at my feet after asking for attention earlier. The poem "Percy Speaks While I Am Doing Taxes" caused me to drop the book and head out for a walk with the dog. The poet, busy with her spreadsheets of numbers, assures Percy she won't be working on this taxes forever. To which Percy replies: Keep me in your thoughts, he replies. Just because / I can't count to ten doesn't mean / I don't remember yesterday, or anticipate today. / I give you one more hour, then we step out /  into the beautiful, money-deaf gift of the world / and run.

On that note, I think it is time to wrap up this review and call for Bingley to join me for a nice long walk on this Spring day.

-Anne

Monday, March 22, 2021

TTT: Funny titles of books I've read and enjoyed


Top Ten Tuesday: Funny Book Titles

I completed a similar list in 2011 but decided, after taking a look at it, that it was due for an update. Here is the old one if you want to take a peek: TTT: Hilarious Book Titles, 2011

As with almost all the lists I create, I only add books I've actually read and liked.

What are your favorite funny book titles? Be sure to leave a comment below.


1. Plasticus Maritimus:  An Invasive Species by Ana Pego. The book is about a serious topic: plastic pollution in the ocean, but the author, who is a biologist, made up the name of the plastic problem which I think is both funny and genius.

2. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. You know him as the host of the Daily Show With Trevor Noah on Comedy Central. The title is funny enough to be intriguing. How can a birth be a crime?

3. Dancing At the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder. The book is about death but the author clearly has a sense of humor and it comes out in the graphic memoir. I laughed through my tears as I read it.

4. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams. The second book in the hilarious Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Everything about it, including the title, is funny.

5. They Lost Their Heads!: What Happened to Washington's Teeth, Einstein's Brain, and Other Famous Body Parts by Carlyn Beccia. This is one of those fun and odd books that is perfect for middle grade students and immature adults like me. I loved it and found many of the stories very humorous.

Now let me pause before I go on. Did you notice something about the top five books on my list? Four of them are nonfiction. Take that list-makers! I can think of funny nonfiction book titles!


6. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I like the name it just rolls off the tongue.

7. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. The book is just as zany as the title.

8. Sad Animal Facts by Brooke Barker. Funny title and odd little book. I actually think about some of the "facts" inside it because I disagree with a few.

9. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. I think I picked the book based on the title alone.

10. God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant. The premise: God comes down to earth and lives among us and he adores dogs!

Your turn. What are some of your favorite funny titles?

-Anne

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sunday Salon---Random thoughts

The street trees (Flowering plums) are all blooming but the skies haven't been so blue this past week.

Today's Sunday Salon is all about those random thoughts twirling around in my brain. Aren't you lucky? You get to take another little peek into my brain as I put some of those random thoughts down in print.

Weather: This is the time of year when things are usually pretty unpredictable around here when it comes to weather. Last week I posted photos of lovely blue-skied days with the promise of Spring everywhere. Then this week arrived. Early in the week it snowed, then hailed. Don and I sat there in full shock as we watched the sky open up and spew down on us. That is even weird for our own measure of weird. Yesterday it was beautiful and sunny, so we all thought a long walk was in order and we headed out with light coats on. We had to cut our walk short as the wind was so cold and biting.

Now here are some real random thoughts:


Books: My sister commented that she has noticed that I am not reading as much as I used to. That stopped me short. Is that true? How can it be when I am reading six books right now? Oddly all of them seem like "project" books. 

  • Three are audiobooks with limits: 
    • A Promised Land (Obama) I listen to it only when I am with Don in the car; 
    • A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (Green) I only listen to this one when I am with Carly alone, often while we work on puzzles; 
    • Dune (Herbert) I only listen to it when I'm alone. Talk about a project. The book is over 800 pages.
  • Of the other three books all feel like I am reading for a "purpose."
    • A Lenten devotion (Fury and Grace). I read only a short chapter each day. 
    • Another book is on racism/antiracism. (Just Us) is excellent but not an easy, light-hearted book. 
    • And a gift from my mother-- (The Atlas of Happiness.) Though it is a happy and thought-provoking book, it still feels like I a reading assignment.

Voting rights: Ted Cruz (TX) was caught on tape this week. He said Republicans must not give an inch on the voting rights bill (HR-1) because if it passes republicans will never win another election. What about this? Pass the voting rights bill and then work on being a party that attracts rather than repels people. The outcome could solve so many problems in our country if both parties weren't operating in the extremes.

I'm always on the lookout for something funny:


Zoom: I am on the church committee to help determine how and when we will open up the church after this COVID-19 pandemic is under control. As we start to open things up I offered to host a small meeting in the building, with masks of course, and one person on the committee said, "But Zoom meetings are so convenient." Are you kidding me? Aren't we all eager to get together in person again? Speaking of Zoom, my family will be gathering on Zoom this coming Monday to help celebrate my Mom on her 92nd birthday. 

St. Patrick's Day celebration. We fixed our boiled dinner a day late, but it was still delicious. Have a listen to this wonderful gift song to us-- an Irish Blessing. Listen all the way to the end for a special treat.



Call the Midwife: We finished watching all nine seasons in three weeks. Every single night we watched at least one but usually more than one episode. We finished up last night by watching three. Now what do we watch? (Don't say basketball, my husband is already doing that.)

Speaking of the NCAA basketball tournament: The UO Ducks advanced without playing a game. Their opposing team had to withdraw due to too many COVID cases.


White evangelicals and sexual repression:
This week's terrible news about the man who killed eight people at spas in Georgia because he was a frustrated sex addict, got me thinking about the amount of pressure Christian churches put on people to be "pure." Have you noticed how many of these churches seem to rank "sins" and they always put sexual sins at the top of the list? I believe that sexual feelings are natural but people who are told from childhood on that those feelings are bad will learn to repress them. Then, because they can't help it, they will start obsessing about sexual thoughts and may end up acting out big time, like the man in Georgia. Ugh. Read this excellent article about this topic in the NYT from 3/20/21. The article also addresses how often men (and the church) blame women for tempting them. Double ugh.

 


Ever feel like this? This is another way of saying my brain is always working on random things...



Guess I don't have as much to say as I initially thought. 


Stay tuned for future random thoughts. Have a good week!

-Anne