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there’s no such thing

snippets from books

Anyone who has ever owned or cared for or loved (and who doesn’t?!) a dog, will find this book moving.  {An aside: I often dream about the last dog we owned – Ginger – such a sweet sweet dog we had for fourteen loving years and I miss her to this day.}

A ‘blurb’ on the jacket of W. Bruce Cameron’s novel, A Dog’s Purpose A Novel for Humans:

“Usually when I read a book this brilliantly written, I wish I had written it, but in this case I’m just grateful it was written at all.  For years I grieved and agonized over the choices I made in caring for my dog at the end of her life, but after hearing from Bailey how deeply our dogs feel what we humans go through, I know my dog loved me till the end, and loves me still, as I love her.  This book healed me.” – Cathryn Michon, author of the Grrl Genius Guide to Life

One afternoon I was drowsily watching Sister and Fast yank on a scrap of cloth they’d found when my ears perked up–an animal of some kind was coming, something large and loud.  I scrambled to my feet, but before I could race down the creek bed to investigate the noise Mother was there, her body rigid with warning.  I saw with surprise that she had Hungry in her teeth, carrying him in a fashion that we’d left behind weeks ago.  She led us into the dark culvert and crouched down, her ears flat against her head.  The message was clear, and we heeded it, shrinking back from the tunnel opening in silence.

When the thing came into view, striding along the creek bed, I felt Mother’s fear ripple across her back.  It was big, it stood on two legs, and an acrid smoke wafted from its mouth as it shambled toward us.

I stared intently, absolutely fascinated.  For reasons I couldn’t fathom I was drawn to this creature, compelled, and I even tensed, preparing to bound out to greet it.  One look from my mother, though, and I decided against it.  This was something to be feared, to be avoided at all costs.

It was, of course, a man.  The first one I’d ever seen.

check it out

The Seguin-Guadalupe Library has an updated website that I absolutely love!  You can view your account, reserve and recommend books, receive notification when books are almost-due.  You can even apply for a library card online.

IN ADDITION, Hubby and I saved $$$ by borrowing books from our local library – to the tune of a combined total of $541!  [When I informed DH, he grunted and said that I had spent much more than that on books for our home library – I replied ” Isn’t it marvelous news that it wasn’t $541 more!”  DH groaned . . .  I smiled.]

WHAT A DEAL!  Our library is the best bargain in town!

Remember the date due library cards?
POOF!!
Gone! – now a borrower receives a computer printout of ALL books they have currently borrowed and not yet returned.  A good reminder and a record.

I love it!




quote of the day

Books are humanity in print.

– Barbara Tuchman

Teaser Tuesday (one sentence)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

She had lived in the neighborhood since defecting from the suburbs the week after that funeral, but she generally avoid setting foot inside St. Raphael Cathedral, wary of her ancestors’ brand of piety.

Colleen Smith’s novel, Glass Halo, is a gem.

Nick Bantock (author of the Griffin and Sabine series) writes: “Eloquently bittersweet, Glass Halo takes you through a stained window into a world of shards.”

I miss Molly Ivins (a snippet from one of her books)

How I miss reading Molly Ivin’s column!

Excerpt from Molly Ivin’s book You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You.

Heart attacks, grand juries, DWI’s, divorces–this isn’t a story, it’s a saga.  Of course there is a different between [Bob] Bullock in his drinking days and Bullock today–he’s not quite a different person, but he sure is easier.  He went off to “Whiskey School” in California in 1981.  Six weeks later he returned to Austin in the middle of the night, sober and alone.  Only one person came out to the airport to meet him–Ann Richards.  He has never forgotten that kindness.

Just a couple of stories from the drinking years: One night Bullock and pal Nick Kralj (Bullock used to have any number of reprehensible friends) got bad drunk, went into the basement of Kralj’s nightclub, and proceeded to shoot roaches with pistols.  They claimed it took great skill.

On another occasion, one of Bullock’s early wives kicked him out of the house, presumably for good cause.  So he went to crash with his friend Carlton Carl, who was himself out drinking.  Unable to get into Carl’s apartment, Bullock crawled into the backseat of Carl’s car, which was parked in an alley, got under a blanket, and passed out there.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t Carl’s car, just looked like it.  When Bullock came to the next morning, he was being driven along I-35 by a total stranger who had no idea anyone was in the backseat.  After pondering his options, Bullock sat up and said to the unsuspecting citizen, “Hi there, I’m Bob Bullock, your secretary of state.”  Poor guy almost drove off the road.

snippets from books

Marina Endicotts novel, Good to a Fault, was shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize.

Margaret Atwood, who was on the Giller Prize jury, remarked that “There’s heartbreak, there’s joy, there are parts where you cry–and it’s very high-quality writing.”

From the book:

To give herself a clear mind, or else to delay, Clara went to church before going to the hospital.  She slipped in late to the early service and did not genuflect, but crossed herself quickly.  She always felt slightly snooty crossing herself, but her mother had ingrained it in her.  All this ritual was so complicated: whether to sand for communion or kneel, stand or kneel for prayer, fold hands or adopt the charismatic pose, swaying and open-palmed.  Many of the older women, surprisingly, swayed.

It was all superstition, anyway.  Just sitting there, being there, was the essential thing, she had come to believe.  But of course she could be wrong.

The Gospel was Mary choosing the better part, to let the dishes go and listen to Jesus talking in the living room–a reading that always annoyed Clara, although she’d never considered herself a Martha.  What would happen if she let go of the dishes now?  It would be all right, because Mrs. Zenko would do them for her, popping in and out of the kitchen with her bright glance catching everything, tidy little ears priced for the conversation while she got supper cleared up without a wasted movement or a sigh or a fuss.  Occupied with Mrs. Zenko’s holiness, Clara had trouble keeping her mind on the sermon.  Paul Tippett was telling an anecdote.  She wondered if he made them up, since so many were apropos, but that was ungenerous.  Anyone life is full of meaning.  She should have phoned to thank him for visiting Lorraine.

He was contrasting Mary and Martha with last week’s Gospel on the Good Samaritan–she hadn’t consciously heard a word of it, as she sat fretting and deciding.

“A man no one would think of as saintly, a dirty Samaritan, took practical action to save the life of someone left to die by the side of the road.  Today, Jesus scolds Martha for her brand of practicality, and insists that spiritual discussion is more important than putting the supper on.  Why is practicality praised in one case, and in the other, reviled?  I don’t think that’s too strong a word, reviled, for the way we call women Marthas with an edge of contempt, because they are busy in the kitchen feeding the masses.  Jesus himself was good at feeding the masses.  And staying under budget.”

Paul seemed so pleased with this loaves-and-fishes nudge that Clara couldn’t help laughing.  She hoped she hadn’t been too loud.

“The Samaritan acts in a moment of genuine crisis, when no one can see his goodness.  But the flavour of self-importance in Martha’s actions, and her peevishness toward her sister, may be uncomfortably familiar to us when we think of our own acts of goodness and how we look for recognition of our work.”

to sleep or to read??

A good mystery is hard to put down!!

snippets from books

From his perch on Skull Rock, they looked like pale eggs sunny-side up moving just beneath the water’s surface.  Some kind of jellyfish.  Half a dozen, pulsating vigorously through the black surf like muscular parachutes.

Odd.  Jack Koryan had spent several summers of his childhood out here and could remember only a few occasions seeing jellyfish in the cove, mot of them washed ashore by the night tide–dinner-plate-sized slime bombs with frilly aprons and long fat tentacles.  But these creatures were small round globs, translucent jelly bells with noting visible in trail.

Maybe some tropical species that the warm water brought in, he thought.

Jack watched them pump by in formation, driven by primitive urgings and warm eddies.  Somewhere he had read that jellyfish were ninety-five percent water–creatures with no brains, bones, or blood.  What enabled them to react to the world around them was a network of nerves.  What a lousy fate, Jack thought–to relate to the world only through nerve endings: a life devoid of thought, passion, or memory.

Writer Joseph Finder (New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia) writes that “Gary Braver’s Flashback combines an irresistible premise with the medical intrigue of Robin Cook and the scientific plausibility of Michael Crichton–a powerful, gripping, and moving tale with a beating heart.”

 

NOTE:

What do jellyfish and your brain have in common? Scientists at the 2010 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Honolulu report that the jellyfish protein apoaequorin may improve cognitive function in people who have memory problems.

I’d rather be reading

Visiting with friends the other evening, the talk turned to television viewing.  Last week, my husband and I saw an On Demand movie on the television screen that was very good: Winter’s Bone.

Other than that movie, I cannot recall the last time I sat in front of a television to watch anything.  When our friends and Dear Hubby mentioned the television programs and sitcoms and reality shows they enjoy, I was at a loss to remember any but that recent movie (which I highly recommend).

When we participated in a television viewing analysis last year, I watched a total of two hours television in one month (a documentary if I recollect and I doubt the TV company gained much insight in the viewing habits in our household – at least from my perspective).  Although (don’t tell him I wrote this!), DH more than made up for my lack of television watching.

However, I WILL watch a basketball game now and again – if I don’t have a Good Book at hand.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

May and I have no intention of getting on that boat.  We couldn’t even if we wanted to because I threw away the tickets, but our parents don’t know that.

I couldn’t put this book down

I read  Room by Emma Donoghue in one sitting.  You will too (I bet).

snippets from books

Which is the proper response to a written invitation?  When introducing couples what name is given first, the gal’s or the dude’s?  When does a man take his hat off, and why is he wearin’ one anyhow?  What is the usual hour of the day to start passing the jug around at an informal wine-tasting party?  Does shrimp cocktail call for this fork or that fork or some other goofy utensil you never heard of and wouldn’t recognize if the First Lady stabbed it into the back of your  ******* hand?

Jamalee had acquired a great thick dilapidated and somewhat dampened book of manners, and the book smelled like a cotton picker’s hatband.  She spotted lessons in that volume and tossed them before us, and we three snuffled after the kernel of meaning.  The main idea was that we should each of  shed the skin that limited us, the social costumery we wore that communicated our low-life heritage at a glance, and adopt a new carriage and a routine of manners and that air of natural-born worthiness that the naturally born worthy displayed.

“We weren’t raised with decent values,” she said.  “We’ll have to memorize some on our own.”

Jamalee needed to borrow a desert of hot sand and scour it through our skulls so we could start over with scrubbed-clean skulls and build uncrippled brains to stock anew with useful thoughts and habits and intentions.

This process went on over a span of days.

Jamalee would bow her tomato head, dive into the warped pages of that book, then trot out more protocol you couldn’t imagine ever needing to know.  She was teachy around many themes: learn this, taste this, become that different thing.  She wanted us to become “civilized,” which I think to her meant to ape the quality folks right down to spittin’ at our own shadows.

Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell

Finders Keepers

If you have not been to the McKee ‘dig’  in Seguin, take a trip out there and learn about all of the artifacts that have been (and are being) found on this property.  It is amazing.

Michael Cary wrote about this find in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise June 17, 2008:

SEGUIN — Local archeologist Robert “Bob” Everett paid a visit Thursday morning to an excavation site where hundreds of arrowheads, spear points and other Native American artifacts were recently uncovered along the banks of the Guadalupe River.

“This is the richest archeological site I’ve seen on the Guadalupe River in 35 years,” said Everett, a steward with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Archeological Stewardship Network.

Craig Childs writes “with lyrical grace” about searching for relics.  Finders Keepers is a Great Read.

From Child’s book:

“It is a job.  Workers go out and dig.  They pull up every artifact they find.  Perfectly legal and not entirely academic, it is a workingman’s science.  Plats and blueprints tell where to excavate.  Practitioners are known as “salvage” or “rescue” archaeologists.  In information circles, they call themselves “shovel bums,” toiling through cities and along pipelines, where they remove all pertinent archaeology in the way of development.

“There is a growing demand for this particular brand of archaeologist.  Backhoes are digging up slave cemeteries and ancient pagodas, forcing cities to cough up their dead, and somebody has to deal with it.  Roman burials are cropping up in London while archaeologists in downtown Miami ponder a circle of postholes that were cut into bedrock a couple of thousand years ago, doing so on behalf of a frustrated developer who has been planning luxury condominiums for this spot.  After thousands of years of traffic, a marketplace in Cairo recently revealed a temple containing a four-ton statue of Ramses II that had been right under people’s feet.  Even in the slums of Mexico City, pieces of the fallen Aztec Empire keep showing up.  In 2006, construction work exposed a thirteen ton stone carving of an earth goddess, and when salvage archaeologists went in they discovered it was topping the tomb of an Aztec emperor.  This could be the biggest discovery in Mexican history, as they dig through the city’s wet,mucky foundations to find it.”

“. . . In his essay on whether we can actually harm the dead, Geoffrey Scarre of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Durham, England, wrote, ‘Whilst a bone may be no more animate than a stone, it is the relic of a man or woman who once thought and felt, was happy and sad, loved and feared as we do.  To disinter or disturb it, or to subject it to chemical or physical analysis, is to take a liberty–not with the thing itself but with the person to whom it once belonged.’ “

devotion and grief

“What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.”

“. . . It’s taken years for me to understand that dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it.  Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue.  Most of us wander in and out of another’s lives until not death, but distance, does us part — time and space and the heart’s weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.”

“. . . The heart breaks open,” a friend said to me upon Clementine’s death.  I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.  Sometimes I think that the pain is what yields the solution.  Grief and memory create their own narrative: This is the shining truth at the heart of Freud and Neruda and every war story ever told.  The death mandates and gives rise to the story for the same reason that ancient tribes used to bury flowers with their dead.  We tell the story to get them back, to capture the traces of footfalls through the snow.”

snippets from books

 

. . . Subsequently the tabloids made much of our different backgrounds, the working-class Jewish boy from the East End and the Catholic aristocrat with her title.  But we were, in our early forties, a long way from our backgrounds and, as usual with the tabloids, these descriptions were more for headlines than accuracy.  Although Harold was technically born into the working class–his father worked in a tailoring factory–ever since the success of The Caretaker in 1960 he had been extremely well-off by most standards: he was able, for example, to retire his father, worn-out with his labours, to salubrious Hove where his parents would live happily for another thirty years.

Again technically, since my father was an earl and my mother a countess, I could be argued to be an aristocrat.  But my father, born Frank Pakenham, only succeeded to the Earldom of Longford when I was nearly thirty; my childhood was spent in a modest North Oxford house, my father, with no private income, teaching at the University.  My mother, being a Harley Street doctor’s daughter, was in any case convinced (and thus convinced us) that the middle classes were the salt of the earth whereas the aristocracy was feckless, unpunctual and extravagant, an assumption that our beloved father’s attitude to life did nothing to discourage.  I had no inherited money myself, and had earned my own living since the age of twenty-one, first working for a publisher and, after marriage, by journalism and books.

just peeking in

snippets from books

The Good Children by Kate Wilhelm

Two years earlier a counselor had told Amy that we were not unlike army children, who had to make friends quickly and adjust to new surroundings all the time.  We knew the difference even then.  Army brats were with other army brats.  A best friend on Friday might be half a world away by Monday, but they might meet again later, and they were all in the same situation.  We were always going into a community of children who had known one another for years, who had slumber parties, whose parents knew the other parents and shared car pools, were room mothers, went running together.  If the schools we had come from had not yet touched on subjects, we were the new dummies.  Amy and Kevin had taught me fractions.  Dad had taught Amy how to diagram sentences.  If our previous schools had been more advanced, we were stuck-up, snobs.  We always knew more about geography than anyone, often more than our teachers.  We all learned not to volunteer answers.  Our accents were always wrong — too southern, too northern, too midwestern. . . . We never knew the new recess rules, the pecking order.  If we carried lunches in boxes, the other kids used brown paper bags.  If we took drinks in thermoses, they bought milk at school.  We were used to being out of step for weeks or even months.

quote of the day

Remember that as a teenager you are in the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear the phone is for you.

– Fran Libowitz

rotary phones . . . and always: books

teenagers - in the 1950s

daily thoughts . . . about nothing in particular

As we sometime are wont to do, I  jotted down thoughts and notes and daily happenings  in my Aimless Life ever since I could write.

All of these diaries and journals (Same Old Flood Story) were lost in the Guadalupe County 1998 flood.

I had a diary – with a lock – which could be opened with a single twist.  No one was interested in my childish – and later my adolescent thoughts –  the lock was of no import.

Took a book off the shelf yesterday and came upon a note:  “Johnny Mac’s Restaurant, Saturday, October 5, 2002” and I have been trying to recall:  what happened Saturday, October 5, 2002 – at Johnny Mac’s??

This thought (as do all thoughts) brought to the fore so many other memories.  Shortly after we moved to Seguin (residing at the Holiday Inn until final papers were signed on our new home in Seguin), I would occasionally go to Johnnie Mac’s Restaurant.  EVERYONE seemed to pass through these doors.

I miss Johnny Mac’s!