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Showing posts from July, 2019

64. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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I could not put this book down. It is a semi-autobiographical novel, and it deserves every award it was given. 

I listened to the audio book narrated by the author and looked at the illustrations on a Kindle edition. WOW! This is a beautiful story. It is off-color in parts because it is written by a teenage boy. So this might be offensive to some.

 After reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, it gave me perspective on life on a Native American reservation (and the mess we made of the Native American's way of life that still leaves me heart-broken). The setting is the Spokane Indian Reservation (Wellpinit, Washington). 

It is so well-crafted. I might even say it is my favorite book of the year so far.

63. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

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LibraryThing predicted with HIGH CONFIDENCE that I probably would not like this book, but in a weird way, I did. I do not object to dystopian novels. This one was sort of mind-bending (as opposed to mind-flattening which, if you read the book, you will understand what I mean by that). It is a commentary on Victorian Era society, and how one must go out of the lines (or squares, polygons, circles, and triangles) to find truth. There is a realm beyond how we have been taught to see it, and we need to be open to realms unknown. Sometimes who buck the trend (or societal class norms) are sometimes persecuted for doing so.
I do think I liked it. 



Here is what the author of 1000 Books to Read Before You Die says: 
A novel of mathematical whimsy, Flatland is set in the peculiar world that provides the book’s name and is home to its putative author, A. Square, a two-dimensional being in a world inhabited by lines, triangles, circles, and polygons. Ingeniously composed as a kind of dystopian memoi…

Freewrite Fifteen at 7:30 on a Wednesday Morning

Alexa just said, "Fifteen minutes, starting now." So I am going. I woke up at 4:30 and did not get to sleep until 1:30, so I will have to take a nap this afternoon. After four nights of sleeping really well and on my back, I was more uncomfortable last night and will stretching my hamstrings on my right leg, my back spasmed. So it was a more uncomfortable night last night, and I was concerned about getting up to go to the bathroom. A simple thing about getting up and going to the bathroom is a lot more complicated when you have a big immobilizing brace on your entire left leg. So I laid in bed with a full bladder this morning doing stretches and trigger point on my psoas muscle before I got up, and my back was good. I am even sitting upright here. 

I texted George 13 times and called him five time to find out where my muscle relaxants were last night, but he did not answer. I have to get used to just bothering Paul. He did end up going around the house looking for the bottle …

62. Abel's Island

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I loved this precious book with illustrations by the author. I realize he is the same person who wrote and illustrated Amos and Boros which I read in 1986 because it is about an elephant and mouse who are friends, and my short little friend, Susan, was the mouse, and I was the elephant. 
It is a simple and beautiful "hero goes on a journey" type of story. He grows through adversity. 


61. Harriet the Spy

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I loved this precocious 11 year old! I also love all the references to great literature throughout the book. This is another one that I missed reading to my kids or having them read themselves when they were kids. 
(so appropriate that I would finish my SIXTIETH book on my SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY WEEK!)

60. How Proust Can Change Your Life

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I had a Playaway from my library that kept shutting down and repeating the audio over and over again when I went on walks. I almost took it back (or had someone else take it back since I am not able to drive with a broken leg), but I thought I would give it one more try this morning, and it played without incident.  I read it in hopes of it helping me to want to read the massive In Search of Lost Time. It does give me context. I listened to an abridged version of the first two sections a few years ago and was not greatly impressed, but there is a new unabridged audio version that makes me want to try it. 
I ended up really liking this book. He gives one a background to Proust's life that informs how his classic In Search of Lost Time (or Remembrance of Things Past) evolved. It also helped that I have been to some of the places described now that I finally made it to France in 2019 (I did go to France January of 1983, but that does not count because I was on a train and only saw Pari…

Wednesday Freewrite

I am listening to the artist Jeffrey Wahl. His music was on the Pray As You Go.org website. It is lovely. 

I woke up at 4:30 needing to go to the bathroom and in a lot of pain. Shooting pain in the place where my knee popped when I was injured. I have not had that much pain, but is was intense and shooting. George decided, then and there, that HE would take me to my doctor's appointment today. At one time, he was going to go back up to Hillsboro to work and Katherine was going to take me. He wants to be in on the whole thing, and I am thankful for that. I have not had any shooting pain in the six days since the injury. I was in bed for a bit longer and finally just decided to get up and sit as an alternative to laying there. 

Pray As You Go was on complaining to God. I really do not have a hard time doing that, but I have not felt the need to really complain about this latest trial. I look at the whole scheme of things and all the people in the world, and I think only of blessing. O…

Tuesday Twenty Minute Freewrite

Because I love alliterations, I am making this a "Tuesday Twenty" Freewrite. I suppose I could make it TEN, but I feel like Twenty. If I am exhausted after TEN, I will go with TEN. LOL! I am in such a strange mood. 

I definitely have a "plateau fracture" of the tibia on my left leg. I went to see the orthopedic surgeon yesterday, and he said that it may require surgery (the immediate care physician was pretty sure it would not), but a CT scan would reveal more than an x-ray would reveal. So there you go. So I got right in to have a CT scan that took maybe five minutes. That was fun and easy, and I definitely like the way the Samaritan people handled me better than the Corvallis Clinic (although I really liked the people in Immediate Care, but the x-ray person was not very good and gave me some unnecessary pain in the process of doing the x-rays).

This immobilizing brace is also better than the one they gave me at the clinic. Sort of makes me wish I had just skipped i…

59. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

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"The desert says nothing. Completely passive, acted upon but never acting,
the desert lies there like the bare skeleton of Being, spare, sparse, austere, utterly worthless, inviting not love but contemplation."


"“In the desert,” wrote Balzac, somewhere, “there is all and there is nothing. God is there and man is not.”"
I am surprised how much I loved this book. I learned so much about this part of the country. He was a ranger in the 50s in Arches National Park. It contains his hikes and contemplations about "progress" and tourism ruining the beauty of the region The only thing that would have made this better would be to have pictures of the places he describes. I made the best of it by looking them up on the internet as I read. 

This is a book I never would have picked up, but he writes well. He has a few political "rants," but I did not mind. 

It was also very interesting to read this book at the same time I was reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Kne…

Saturday Seventeen Minute FREEWRITE

We were supposed to be gone on an anniversary getaway, but other plans were in store for this girl. As a pre-anniversary surprise, Micah and Brittany told George they would take me out in the boat and give me a ski ride, but I fractured my tibia while trying to get out of the water. It is a "plateau fracture," and it might require surgery if there is an ACL or MCL (not sure if I have that right) tear. So, guess what we are doing on my anniversary weekend? ICING, IBUFROFEN, ELEVATING, and doing "ANKLE PUMPS"! George is doing what he does best: being a nurse for me (again). If he were not a brilliant statistician, he would make a great nurse. He is a gem. I am sorry this happened, but I seem to be managing well. Within minutes of asking for crutches on Facebook, someone responded. Carey asked if we wanted meals from the church. People are praying. What more could a girl ask for?

So it is pretty funny that I am reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee this week! (Yes, I a…

58. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

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First this book will break your heart. Then, you will become incredibly angry. What America did in the name of "Manifest Destiny" is EVIL, absolutely EVIL. So, I think this is a very important book to read. Follow it up by watching Ken Burn's excellent series, The West, and you will get a more accurate picture of what REALLY happened.

By best friend, who is NOT a big reader, had this on her coffee table, and she was enthralled. She loaned it to me, and then I discovered it was on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list. I agree. It is that important. 

Here are a couple of reviews when it came out in 1970:

TIME magazine reviewed the book saying: "In the last decade or so, after almost a century of saloon art and horse operas that romanticized Indian fighters and white settlers, Americans have been developing a reasonably acute sense of the injustices and humiliations suffered by the Indians. But the details of how the West was won are not really part of the American …

57. Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction

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I have read numerous books on spiritual direction, and I believe all of them have at least one quote from this excellent book. This is a very thorough look at this lovely practice in which I am becoming certified (but have done for probably 30 years without really knowing it). I love her style and the topics that she covers in-depth. The training program that I was going to join in both 2008 and 2012(but didn't have peace and discovered that God had other plans both times) had this as its main text, and the director of that program, Sister Joan, swears by it (I have seen it marked up and dog-eared on her bookshelf). I knew it was one that I would read eventually. Since I was done with all my required readings for certification, I plunged right in. I wish it were part of our reading for certification because I think it is the best one that I have read, and some of the ones that we have read are a little too "ethereal" and not very practical. This one is very practical an…

Tuesday Morning Freewrite Fifteen

I woke up at 4:50am this morning because I went to bed quite early last night. Sadly, I was listening to my book again, thinking I would be able to listen until the end of the chapter as I turned out the light and closed my eyes, but NO! So I had to listen to it again this morning. 

Yesterday turned out to be grand. After my last freewrite, I directed the young ladies cutting the trees in my yard (yes, Graham has an ALL FEMALE work crew now - go girls). In the meantime, I went to clean out underneath the sink (I might have done this before the freewrite), and I discovered that the hose that connects to the faucet leaks every time you turn the faucet on, and all the paper products directly under (thankfully only brown bags from grocery runs where brown bags were offered which is rare in our town that has added a charge if you use them, trying to encourage reusable bags) were soaked through in addition to the cork board underneath. I am thankful to say that it had not leaked out to the b…

56. My Lady Ludlow by Gaskell

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I took a two book diversion from my 1000 Books to Read Before You Die quest in order to enter into the world of Elizabeth Gaskell so that I could fill in what was added to the Cranford TV series. It followed this story loosely and even improved upon it in many ways. This is a delightful book told from the perspective of a person who lives in the mansion of this fine Lady. Miss Galindo is totally different in this book. She is talkative and quirky. The one in the mini-series is more of a moral compass and wise. I like the one in the mini-series much better!
All in all, this was a delight to listen to as I am doing a deep-clean in my kitchen this summer!

Monday Morning Freewrite

I have decided to not feel guilty for not planning a big agenda for the summer. For more summers than I care to count, we have always had something. For a couple of summers it was me teaching on storytelling. Last summer it was that huge reunion that took more time than I even realized. It was also finishing up with Renovare. I also taught at TAC all last summer. So to not have any agenda at all other than the shower for Madina (that got canceled due to her C Section) seems so weird for me, but I am managing to get so much done around the house. I have gotten through so many cupboards and drawers. Right now, it is working on the kitchen. Today I think I will tackle underneath the sink. This seems so mundane, but I sure like being able to have the time to make my home neat and clean. I usually have reserved August for that in the past, but July seems to be fairly clear. So I am "striking while the iron is hot." 

I am going to contact Lori and see if she wants to meet in Hillsb…

55. Mr. Harrison's Confessions

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I read Cranford a few days ago. Then I watched the mini-series by the BBC. There was so much in that excellent series that was not in Cranford. I assumed it was the brilliance of Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife) who wrote the script for the series. I watched the Special Features for the mini-series, and the creator said that the script was created based on three books by Gaskell. So I went searching, and my old friend, Librivox, had an excellent narration of one of the books (novella really). This is the whole storyline in the mini-series about Dr. Harrison and Sophie. It was delightful and made me laugh out loud a few times! I love Gaskell! By the way, the narrator for this Librivox recording is excellent. Now I am off to listening to the other novella they incorporated into the series. I love summer reading!

54. My Dog Tulip

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Alsatian in Great Britain is what American's call a German Shepherd. I grew up with two German Shepherds: Duke and Babe. Ackerley writes beautifully, but I got a bit tired of him trying to find a male dog to mate with his dog. I am not sure I would have put it on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List though. It was painless to read, and the author is quite clever. It made me curious to know more about the author. He was a prisoner of war in World War I, and I would like to explore more of his life than his dog's!

53. The Complete Persepolis

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This includes #46 on the books I have read this year and the sequels. WOW! I think everyone should read this. He or she would get a better perspective on what happened in Iran and to its people. I have a better perspective because I have many Iranian friends. What a journey this woman has been on. Highly recommend it. Tonight, my husband and I (he read these long ago) will watch the animated version of the book. I am looking forward to it.

52. Skellig by David Almond

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This truly is a beautiful book. It is under "Children's Literature" (Ages 8-12) in the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die, but it really is one for all ages. The really preferred the audiobook over reading it. It does start very slowly, and you wonder why it is on the list. I am glad I put the book down until the audiobook became available though. It was lovely to read it that way. 
I also have to admit I LOVED all the references to William Blake in the story and to Mina being homeschooled and the commentary on traditional school. I am intrigued by it, and I might read the sequel about Mina. 
This book reminded me of a time when I was quite young, and my brother had to have surgery, but I was left in the dark and left at a friend's house. I remember screaming as my mother drove away. I stayed there more than one night, and I did not understand what was happening to me. Where was my lovely, peaceful family (because the family that they left me at was very chaotic and the…

51. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

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I saw this movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton once and remember being so disturbed by it. Reading the words of the play is no less disturbing. This is the anatomy of a very troubled marriage. It is dark and chilling. But it is no doubt what happens in marriages all over the world. I am grateful mine is not one of them, and my heart breaks for people like George and Martha (and Honey and Nick, for that matter). I guess you could see this as a cautionary tale. It was VERY hard to get through, especially after such a sweet book like Cranford that I finished yesterday!

50. Cranford by Gaskell

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I really think I like Gaskell as much as Austen. This book doesn't necessarily have a plot, but it is so engaging with wonderful characters in a small English village. This narration was also perfect!

Freewrite Fifteen on a Wednesday Morning

I am happy this morning. 

After two weeks of being cooped up inside with terrible grass allergies, my hubby took the whole family to the beach over the 4th of July, and it was great to walk on the beach without grass pollen. We walked together every morning, and then George would go out with the boys (not boys anymore but they will always be my "boys" even though they are 24 and 27 now) for about an hour in the mid-morning, and I would stay in the room and stretch and read! Later in the day we would do something together as a family. Usually walking on the beach again. So I got a LOT of walking in! (Back totally CLICKED back in after Emiko's massage making it go out on the right hip. I was looking at whale boats with the binos, and I rotated my upper body while sitting in the chair and heard a loud CLICK! YAY!)

I read so many books over the holiday. It was great, and if you want to know what books I read, just look at the slew of book reviews that I did yesterday! It was s…

49. The Phantom Tollbooth

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Why had I never read this before? I never read it to my kids, but one of my kids said he read it on his own as an adult. I just looked it up, and it is part of the 8th Grade Readers for Sonlight Curriculum, and we were already on to other things by then. I loved it. It is so clever and classic and loved it! It is like a more modern Alice in Wonderland only Alice is called Milo in this story.

48. The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sis

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I loved learning the old stories of Prague. I dream of going there some day soon!

From James Mustich:
In this book’s fairy-tale narrative, a young man’s hot-air balloon is blown off course and lands him in an ancient town, which he recognizes as Prague, the city of his youth. He makes his way to his old home, but the house is dark, the door secured with three rusty padlocks. A black cat appears to lead him through silent streets in search of the keys that will unlock the gate to his lost childhood. Sís’s images, crowded with detail and decoration, create an exhilarating cityscape that spreads like a map over the large pages. They are washed with colors both muted and luscious, colors that coat the illustrations with the mystic, tentative, tantalizing affections of remembrance. One falls into his marvelous memory palace like a thought tumbling into sleep—and dreams. Disguised as a children’s book in format and style, The Three Golden Keys will nourish the imagination of any reader. It is…