Friday, August 30, 2019

83. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

What a great story! I was totally engrossed. I wanted to know the who, what, when, where, and why of all of this story. This story has been around for so long, and I have never really known what it was about, but now I do. Great thriller. It was only a 5 hour audiobook too. Great for a road trip! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

82. The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

I absolutely LOVED this book. I had it on hold for months, and I was in the middle of reading other books when it became available, but I plunged right in and could not put it down. 

I had no idea he came from a super wealthy family! It was so great. I highly recommend this book, and I recommend Lavar Burton's excellent and enthusiastic narration of the book. 

He was an exemplary man. It was so interesting to read about his upbringing. He was raised in a Western Pennsylvanian Scottish Presbyterian home just like mine! In fact, he grew up just 42 minutes away from Indiana, Pennsylvania where my ancestors are. 

I wish he had been my neighbor. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 

Also, if you listen to the audiobook, you get the bonus of a 22 minute interview with the author. It is excellent! 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Freewrite Fifteen

Here we go. I wonder when Blogger will update their archaic Blogger stuff. It really is sort of a dinosaur compared to other blog spaces out there. 

No matter. I have had this one since 2004, and I think I am very close to 2000 posts. So I am sticking with this.

Paul is bringing in ice for my leg, and my swelling has gone down considerably because when I go out and about (which I have been doing more of), it swells up. So I am trying to be better at reducing the swelling. I went back to taking ibuprofen. There is a theory out there that ibuprofen inhibits bone growth, but I found no research to back that up, and I like how it reduces my swelling. So I am taking 400 mg every four hours, and it has REALLY helped.

Poor George was really out of it on Saturday. I thought he was getting sick, but he seems to be fine now. He forgot to wash the darks, and I needed shorts for PT. So Paul did a load of darks for me this morning. He has been such a great helper. I hope after I don't need help anymore, he will find a good job in graphic design.

My back has been a bit wonky over the last couple of days. I think I slept on it funny two nights ago. So that is not good. I have a osteopathic appointment with Dr. Myers on Wednesday afternoon, but I am on a waitlist to see if I can get in to see him sooner. We will see. I am grateful that my back has held up for as long as it has, being that my gait is obviously so weird right now.

I am three days away from weight bearing, and I could not be happier! I know that the transition to walking will be slow, but I cannot wait to go for a walk in the sunshine! I will never take walking for granted again. My last injury that prevented me from walking normally was ten years ago in November, and I thought I would never take it for granted back then either. This is a wake up call. We 

Sadly, I think I have put on pounds with less activity and the need to eat with medications. I am so looking forward to losing this weight. I am glad because I was NOT overweight going into this, and I am still probably not overweight even now, but I know that I like to be lower.

I had some heartbreaking stuff this past week. The whole "feeling excluded and left out" that I have struggled with for so many years. I know that my fear is being "unwanted and unloved," and it is hard to be unwanted and unloved by those you put so much time into loving and making them feel wanted. So I am sad, but I think I had a good cry while reading In Search of Lost Time. We don't have the social hierarchy that French culture had at the turn of the century, but there are the "haves" and the "have nots" in our culture too. It breaks my heart some time. So I have given that to the Lord and am happy to be in the "haves" when it comes to being "In Christ"! I am part of the "IN" Christ crowd, and that is people from every nations, people, tongue, and tribe, and I will not be left out of that wedding feast of the Lamb! So, I need to know that these slights from people I thought were dear friends are only meant to make me long for heaven and loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I need to love others regardless of how much I perceive they love me. The crying with George yesterday was about feeling like he is the one person in the world who I know loves me. I think with everyone else there is doubt. There is the feeling that I do not matter. That I will be left out. That I am a "second tier" kind of friend. It is hard to acknowledge that, but I think in the back of my mind, that thought is always there, and I find that it doesn't really rear its ugly head maybe 5% of the time in my life, but when it does. I stew on it for days, as I have been stewing on this since August 17. 

Well it is fifteen minutes, and I have some things I need to get done before I go to my PT appointment. Bye.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

81. Talking Like the Rain: A Read-to-Me Book of Poems

2017133I wished I had known about this book when my kids were small. I loved the variety of poets highlighted. I loved the illustrations. Great book. 

80. It's Great to Suck at Something by Karen Rinaldi

42202073. sy475 This was recommended to me by someone in the all-women's surfing school I attended in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico in November 2011 when my friend, Julie, turned 50. I really did SUCK at surfing, and this book is about a woman who makes many analogies from her own journey in surfing, making the point that it is healthy to try something outside of one's comfort zone and to fail/not be the best/perfect.  Her points are super valid, and she has an entertaining writing style, but I felt like her points were so common sense that I got bored at the end. I think this book would be especially good for people who don't try things unless they know they can succeed. I am not one of those kinds of people. 

I could relate to sucking at surfing. I really thought it would be easy for me because I grew up on the beach, body-surfed all my life, and boogie-boarded once or twice and found it easy.  (Both my brothers were excellent surfers, but my parents would not allow me to surf.) In addition, I have slalom water skied since I was seven years old. So, I didn't think balance would be a problem. Part of the problem was the wrong size board for four days out of the seven! I think the surf school did not want to spent the extra to rent me a longer board for my height. (All of the tall women in the surf school had trouble getting up on their boards, btw.) I know it was the equipment because I went to Hawaii three months later, and my private surf instructor said they never should have started me out on the size board that I had, and I got up right away when I surfed with him and the right sized board. That was nice. Getting up wasn't hard, but I still was not very good. 

Another problem: the waves on the public beach in Sayulita were too small and short-lived for me to have enough time to get my tall body standing on the board! By the fifth day with a bigger board and a trip by boat far out in the ocean to catch a bigger and longer wave (and figuring out another way to pop up on my board by kneeing it first and standing from there, something my instructors never suggested), I stood up really easily!

I feel like I should have gotten my money partially refunded because I wasted four days in an impossible situation. (One of the newer instructors slipped and said that the boards were really bad boards.)  They were nice people and instructors. I loved the owner's philosophy, and I really clicked with her. I loved the people I was with. I loved the classes, and the breakfasts and meals and lodging, etc. So it was not all bad, but it was a lot of money to spend for bad equipment. I wouldn't recommend the school for that reason. 

All that said, it was good to suck at something because I usually do NOT fail. So for that reason alone, it was good for me to not surf well after assuming that I would! 

Here is a link to the pictures of the adventure:

Weight Bearing is Coming!

Countdown by

Well that was fun to embed in this blog! The long wait for weight-bearing is almost over.

I have been sitting for much of the morning so I don't know how long this post will be because I have to elevate my leg, AND it never good for my back to sit for long periods of time.

I spent much of the morning sitting and writing and addressing thank you notes for all the people who brought me meals and gave me gifts for my birthday. I needed to call the person who arranged meals, and she sort of chewed me out for not calling her and asking for more meals. I didn't have her number connected to her name in my phone, and I had to get a hold of Carey to contact her. I finally did. The meals stopped last Wednesday, but I was OK with that as I think we will make due until I am weight-bearing, and there are people who bring me meals outside of the church meal train. So maybe more will come. In the meantime, Paul fixed me hard boiled eggs and toast, Café Steamer for lunch, and I just had chai tea for breakfast. He also brought me snacks. I am content, and I don't eat as much when we make our own meals. I am so grateful for all the meals we received, and we received so many that it took me much of the morning to write thank you notes!

I accidentally pushed down on my heal of my left leg to get over to the blinds to open them yesterday afternoon. That is the first time I have put any weight on the leg, and it felt fine to do it. The doctor did say he was tempted to let me start putting weight on it after my appointment last Thursday. So, I don't think it hurt to do that. While this has become my new normal, I will be ever so thankful to be able to walk a bit.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sweet Sixteen Saturday Freewrite

I am in the middle of putting my name on a list of a trip that Sharre and Linda are taking to the Alps. It is tour with a bus, but it would be so fun to go with them! So I am putting my name on the list. We each get 300 off because of being the first time and referred. So that might be a nice thing. I have always wanted to go to the Alps, but it would be summer, and they have mudslides in the summer. So not happy about that, but I think they are rare.

George just helped me take a shower, and I have to say that love feeling clean after no shower for four days. :) 

We are going to a wedding today. It is in a field. So I have to be extra cautious with my crutches. I am getting really distracted with this vacation planning so I am not doing the full freewrite. Maybe I should just start it after I am done. 

I have to go get ready for the wedding. Excited for today. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

79. Richard II by Shakespeare

Richard IIRichard II by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No one does it better than Shakespeare. This was a gripping story made better by great British actors. Love it. 

I switched to Shakespeare after being on a "Russian Reading Roll," but Russian can be sort of a downer (LOL). So I needed Shakespeare. This story is about the downfall of a king, but there is something iambic pentameter that makes me very happy. :) 

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

78. Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov

I am so steeped in Chekhov this last week that I had a dream about my friends reading him and loving it. That would not be the case as I could not see a single one of my friend enjoying Chekhov, including my husband (who likes Hemingway)! 
These are selected stories. Some take a few minutes to read and others take over an hour. I appreciate his genius. The guy can write. WOW! Many of these were written in magazines so he could make some money. They are not considered his finest works. 

I don't think I would have liked to grow up in Russia! I don't think, harkening back to my reading in Proust earlier this month, that I would have liked growing up in France either! Give me American culture any day of the week. We have it stratification in society, but that does not have to be your lot forever and ever. Social strata is NOTHING like Europe had it. 

I am forming a thought about European deeply entrenched cultural things that make for emptiness when it is devoid of God. I cannot even articulate it yet. My husband gave me this quote from War and Peace when we discussed my hypothesis:

“Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion—science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally both in mind and body as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world and therefore, as an Englishman, always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace  Chapter 9, Book 10

What do you think?

These stories were a chore to get through. They were depressing, and they don't have the benefit of an integral plot to take you in. I still think Chekhov is a genius, but he is a genius without a soul. Of course he has a soul, but it is not inclined to hope in a relationship with God and LOVE between individuals. That is where he is different from Tolstoy or Dostoevsky who were people inclined and put hope in God contrasted with the tragedy of a life devoid of God.  

So, I would say skip this book of stories if you can. Also, no need to buy this book, all these short stories are on the web. The only thing is that the  translators for this edition are my favorite, having translated War and Peace and Anna Karenina to perfection. They are wonderful. 

Life is beautiful, but somehow Chekhov only sees the sad part of life in his stories. 'Tis a pity.

77. Henry IV: Part Two


"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." Henry IV

I see where this quote comes from! This group does such a good job.

I had to have some Shakespeare today after the heavy Toni Morrison book yesterday! I know there is war, treason, intrigue in Shakespeare, but there is often someone who gives comic relief, and that is Falstaff. I have now read or seen the plays where his is a part. He is a character in three of them and mentioned in the one of them. 

76. Beloved by Toni Morrison

How appropriate that I would have this book on hold for six weeks, and it would become available to me on the week of her passing. 

She writes beautifully about very difficult subjects. This is not an easy book to read. There were times where she was so ethereal that I was not quite sure what was happening or who was saying or doing something. It is a book of many flashbacks, and I know my Book Babes Book Club members would hate that (they have a low tolerance for a difficult read and out of their comfort zone). I don't mind flashbacks, but I did finally make it easier on myself by looking up chapter summaries on a website to make sure that I "got" what she was trying to say. Most of the time I did get it, but I wanted to make sure.

There were times where I wept (and was very mad at the white race). Morrison does a good job of putting you in the shoes of whoever the narrator is at that point (point of view shifts all over the place). I can see why it won all sorts of awards. I can also see why people would not like it too. 

All in all, I am glad that I listened to it. (And the author narrating it was amazing. She has a seductive, yet haunting style that pulls you in.)

I have to say that I was GRIPPED after I got over the initial confusion about what was going on because of all the flashbacks. It is sort of like Shakespeare. You have an initial panic that you will NOT get it, but if you sit back, relax, and let the book come to you, you get it. I wanted to keep on reading because there were so many questions in my mind. Sixty percent of the way through, you get a bigger pictures, and it is heartbreaking. Some might not like the sadness of it all though.  I did not mind. 

This book is on almost every "must read" list. Surprisingly, it was not on the Well-Educated Mind list, but I think she puts more conservative books on there. So she chose Song of Solomon by Morrison instead. I remember I liked that, but I did not like The Bluest Eyes that was on the One Hundred Books list. 

Now I have the Oprah Winfrey movie on hold. It BOMBED at the box office. I am afraid to watch it because I cannot think how they would portray one of the scenes! I will watch it with fear and trembling and will be willing to turn it off at any time. 

Athanasian Creed 1-4 (with Freewrite)

I am starting Lectio Divina on Scripture related to the Athansian Creed today. It is this and also a freewrite however God wants to lead me today. Here goes:

1-4 Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [universal] faith, which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic [universal] faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor diving the substance. 
The Scriptures for meditation on this subject (and I may just meditate on one of them today) are:

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)
The Lord Jesus prayed these words for the unity of all who would believe in Him, "I ask that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory that You gave Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected in one (NASB says "unity"), that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:21-23). 
This is cool as I have been praying through a prayer guide for partners who have gathered together this last week in Thailand. One of the songs is "Make Us One" by Twila Paris. So I have been meditating on this quite a bit. It also goes along with the Lectio Divina journal I just finished and the 40 Day Journey with Bonhoeffer book I just meditated through. So, I am listening Lord. I love it when everything comes together.

I certainly have felt more oneness with others lately. Being housebound, it is so sweet that so many people have brought meals and have come to visit me. I feel very loved and not isolated. Unity in the body too. I love my church. I love my missional community. I have not loved having a broken leg, but I have certainly been nourished in heart, soul, and mind through this season with a nice balance of time alone and time with people visiting and having heart-to-heart fellowship (three hour lunch with the person who brought it to me on Monday) which is something that I am realizing more and more that I crave (and need and fills my soul with consolation).

For many years, I tried having that oneness with "cultural" believers who don't realize that there is SO MUCH MORE to life with Jesus! SO MUCH MORE. So, I am grateful that Jesus prayed this prayer in the Upper Room about oneness, and I see it is being played out in our living room so many times. They were not "my people." Something happened this last spring that totally cemented that for me. I could have felt rejection, but I just felt a final release from them after forty years. I love "my people" now. They are all flavors, walks of life, and ages; but they are people I have found so much oneness with.

The whole thought of being selective in fellowship comes to mind. Not striving to fit "IN" with the cool believers is the best thing for me. I look at the old crowd pictures, and I remember when I used to hang with them, there was such an emptiness. So much strife even though their pictures make it look like all smiles and fun. It may be for them (and bless them for it), it was never for me. My function in that group was one of counselor anyway. I just listened to their struggles in relationships (especially the marriages), but there was not really a caring for me. Part of that was because I used to set it up that way (Type Twos do that), because I was so not in touch with what I wanted or needed in relationship and in community. I did not think that was OK to have needs and wants in relationships. I would always hope that it would be more two way, and sometimes, it never happened. That is why the EnneaThought for today was so amazingly apropos for me:
As a Two, you identify powerfully with feelings for and about others and feelings about others' responses to you at the expense of recognizing your own feelings about yourself and your own needs. Notice this tendency in yourself today. (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 44)
That is what I did with that group. I was so in tune to them not realizing that I had needs too. I still care about that group, but there is not a need I have for deep community being met there. It just will not happen. My heart passions and goals are so different from them too Maybe they have it with each other. So, blessings to them. I gave up putting any emotional energy into them. For so long, I wanted to belong, but I realized that belonging meant that I denied myself in the process. I feel like I have much better balance now than ever before. It is so beautiful! Community and oneness is happening for me, and I am so very grateful.
Well, I am going on to journaling, but this is my freewrite for this part of the Athanasian Creed.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

75. Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time #1) by Proust

Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1)Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tried to post this five times yesterday but to no avail. I also lost the review I wrote on Goodreads. So I will be  brief. This is Proust. It is considered one of the greatest books of the 20th century. So, I am tackling the whole seven volumes while I am recovering from a broken leg. I wrote this in my review of How Proust Can Change Your Life, but it bears repeating that Proust's brother said, "The sad thing is that people have to be very ill or to have broken a leg in order to have the opportunity to read In Search of Lost Time." LOL! 

I listened to an abridged version of Swann's Way 11 years ago. I wasn't super impressed, but I am older now, and I have done a lot of reviewing of my "Blessed History" through the Spiritual Exercises so this is basically Proust's secular recollections of his history. George and I had such a nice conversation yesterday about how certain things trigger our memory. For me, a ride on a boat (which happened the day of my broken leg) flood my memory of times with my family boating and me singing to the sound of the engine as my dad drove around Lake Millerton or Mohave. This book inspired me in many ways to do more recollections and write about them. I had done a recollection many years ago that made my brother cry, but where did I put that thing?

So, there are seven volumes, and I bought the whole massive thing in one Kindle book for 1.99. So, here I go! 

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Friday, August 09, 2019

Friday Fifteen Freewrite

I just love alliterations: Friday Fifteen Freewrite. I have my timer set, and here I go!!!!!!

I just finished The Trinity: A Journal, and I made this monumental decision to do my review on Goodreads and then just use the HTML script that they say you can cut and paste and put it in this blog. That way, I don't have to get a separate copy of the book cover and paste it into this blog. Plus, it links back to the book on Goodreads in case someone might want to buy the book because I think Goodreads is owned by Amazon now (they really are taking over the world) - I might be wrong about that, but the rule of the Freewrite is that you just write and write and don't get distracted from this writing straight through for fifteen minutes. So maybe they don't own Goodreads? I will update this freewrite afterwards if I am wrong.

Anywho, I have read NINE books this week since Sunday. I am on a RUSSIAN READING ROLL (another alliteration, by the way)! What is so funny is that I was reviewing the Chekhov plays that I read, and I took a break and watched Season 14 of The Amazing Race (I think it was in about 2008), and they were in Russia, and they had a bunch of letters and had to unscramble them to spell a "famous Russian playwright"! LOL! Here I am taking a break from Chekhov, and they mention Chekhov in the episode, and what was even funnier was that 7 out of 9 of the teams HAD NO IDEA and had to just play with the letters until they got it right. Of course, the lawyer got it right away, and he said, "That was so easy. Of course it is Chekhov." But sadly, the majority of people would never know about Chekhov. Then I thought, did I know about Chekhov in 2008? Somehow I think I did. I think I had read the dramas list from The Well-Educated Mind by then so I would have read or been on the verge of reading his most famous work: The Cherry Orchard.

Dead Russians are the best writers.

On another note, I have not only been feeding my mind with good literature but have also been feeding my soul. Better said that God has been feeding my soul. I have loved my time in Bonhoeffer and with The Trinity: A Journal, finishing up with the Holy Spirit. It has been perfect as I face what many would consider a trial. There have been only brief moments where I panicked with this broken leg, mostly when I thought my back was going to go out. But God has brought me back to a focus that "the Holy Spirit gives life and peace," and He has faithfully brought me back to his perspective, actually quite quickly. 

He has also brought me back to focus in one thing where I felt rejected and insecure in a setting with three other people. I excused myself and went back to my bedroom and focused and listened to God. They had no idea as they were busy with something that I felt left out of (thus why I was feeling insecure). Instead of telling them I was hurt, I went into God's inner room for me, and He spoke so wonderfully and beautifully to me. In Enneagram terms, my insecurity wanted me to go from my Type Two into the insecure Type Eight (my direction of disintegration), but instead I went into the inner room of the healthy Type Four (my direction of integration), and it was amazing!

Then, I went back out into the living room, and the whole situation, and my perspective of it totally turned around. I felt SO WANTED and SO LOVED, but I didn't have to demand it, and I would have been fine if those others did NOT communicate that to me because I already felt SO WANTED and SO LOVED by God in my inner room time with Him back in my bedroom. So their affirmation of me was just an icing on a cake. I already had the cake.

So that was something that I might have already documented here, but I thought I would write about it in my Freewrite. 

And there you go FIFTEEN MINUTES exactly. Time to face the day. (By the way is it also DAY FIFTEEN on my injury recovery so I might be half way to weight bearing! YAY!)

Pressing without proofreading! BYE! 

Update: Amazon acquired Goodreads on March 28, 2013. There you go. They really are taking over the world. 

74. The Trinity: A Journal

The Trinity: A Journal (Reflections (Navpress))The Trinity: A Journal (Reflections by Kenneth D. Boa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lectio Divina on Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I started it in October 2006 and picked up at the Holy Spirit for the summer, and it was great! Love anything by Boa. 

I am a trying something different by doing the link from my Goodreads to here. I like that it just puts the picture of the book right there in my blog, but it is quite a small rendering.

I love Boa. I had done lectio divina (sacred reading) long before I had picked up this book, but I love his explanation of it. I have also gone through another book in this series about the different creeds s(around the time I started this one in 2006), and I loved that. I have one more of these journals to go, but I might go through the trinity passages in this book again, as the author suggests. I glanced at one from 2007, and it was about anxiety over high school diplomas and college entrance, and homeschooling did not hinder them from both! There was no need to worry, but it was nice to journal my prayer and look back on it to record God's faithfulness. There was no need to worry because they both went through college with flying colors. The new prayer frontier is interceding for jobs for these two grown men of mine! Lord, make it so! 

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

73. Uncle Vanya

This is another of Chekhov's four major plays that I read this week and on that 1000 Books list! 

Mustich writes: 

Chekhov wrote more than a dozen plays, but the last four are his most accomplished and most performed, and the quartet—because of their original realization by Konstantin Stanislavski under the auspices of the Moscow Art Theater—are seminal works in theatrical history. In each of these works, subtext is as powerful as action: Characters often speak around their emotions, and a seemingly inconsequential line about the weather or plans for the day can have overwhelming emotional force. Deeply humanistic, Chekhov’s four dramatic masterpieces are emblematic of our modern domestic lives in the same way Greek tragedies are emblematic of a more cosmic and radical vision of human agency. Distanced from the gods and their interventions, Chekhov’s characters move through their modest calamities, losing the homes, habits, vocations, and loves that might provide fragile protection against the long loneliness that terrifies us all. In Uncle Vanya (1899–1900), the disappointments of aging and romance rub up against life-affirming moments of passion, learning, and labor.

72. The Three Sisters

My last Chekhov play! I had someone bring me a meal due to my broken leg, and I told her that I was reading Chekhov in my confinement. She said, "I could never read Chekhov. I am prone to depression, and he just does not put me in a good place." I suppose she is right. He is pretty depressing, but I am finishing up my foray, and I don't feel depressed. I am reading his short stories now, and there is a little biography in the introduction, and he is a fascinating personage, and he can write! I think all Russian writers can be depressing but SO GOOD! I just cannot even formulate my thoughts yet, but all three of these plays just pulled me in.

I told my youngest son, Paul, that I was reading Chekhov, and he said, "Is this so you can 'Check Ov' more books from your list?" Such a clever boy. 

He also told me about the expression I had never heard of: "Chekhov's Gun." This is what it means:

Chekhovs gun(ProperNoun)
An element that is introduced early in the story whose significance to the plot does not become clear until later. (
He told me this after I read the first play, and I will be darned if ALL THREE of these plays had a gun in it! LOL! 

Here is Mustich's take on why this is an important play to read:  

It’s true that Chekhov’s plays are filled with unhappy people, and if you suffer through a bad production, you might think there is not much more to them than miserable Russians moping on country estates, moaning about failed affairs and thwarted ambitions. Then again, an inept production of Oedipus the King might make Greek tragedy seem like some sick combination of soap opera and horror movie. But just as Aeschylus and Sophocles treat the fundamental and enduring themes of human existence—fate, inheritance, savagery, pride, justice—so Chekhov treats the worries of our daily lives: loneliness, love, financial uncertainty, the persistent pangs of time’s passing. Chekhov wrote more than a dozen plays, but the last four are his most accomplished and most performed, and the quartet—because of their original realization by Konstantin Stanislavski under the auspices of the Moscow Art Theater—are seminal works in theatrical history. Three Sisters (1901) depicts sophisticated Muscovites struggling to adjust to life in the country.
By the way, I found a 1966 play with Geraldine Page and Shelly Winters on YouTube. So good! 

71. The Sea Gull

12232411I am on a "Roll of Russian Reading" since I completed Nabokov last  week. This week, I tackled Chekov and three of his famous plays. 

The Sea Gull is on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list.

James Mustich writes:

“Why do you always wear black?” a schoolteacher asks a young woman at the start of The Seagull. “I’m in mourning for my life,” she replies. It’s true that Chekhov’s plays are filled with unhappy people, and if you suffer through a bad production, you might think there is not much more to them than miserable Russians moping on country estates, moaning about failed affairs and thwarted ambitions. Then again, an inept production of Oedipus the King might make Greek tragedy seem like some sick combination of soap opera and horror movie. But just as Aeschylus and Sophocles treat the fundamental and enduring themes of human existence—fate, inheritance, savagery, pride, justice—so Chekhov treats the worries of our daily lives: loneliness, love, financial uncertainty, the persistent pangs of time’s passing. Chekhov wrote more than a dozen plays, but the last four are his most accomplished and most performed, and the quartet—because of their original realization by Konstantin Stanislavski under the auspices of the Moscow Art Theater—are seminal works in theatrical history.
What made this even more enjoyable was to find a Great Performances version from the 70s and watching Blythe Danner and Olympia Dukakis in their younger years!  

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

70. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

I read Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler with my book club in 2007, and it only got a 6.3 out of 10 (but they are a tough crowd, and I am always shocked at what they like and don't like). I remember I liked it OK, but it wasn't earth-shattering for me. 

This book was much better. It helped me to ponder my own journey with an abusive mother (something I am only now making more public 12 years after her death) and a father who couldn't be there all the time because he was 1) at work from 6:50am until 5:30pm five days a week and 2) in the garage working on things and with his friends from 5pm Friday night until 5pm Sunday night (our garage was a huge complex separated from our home by a backyard) only coming in for dinner. So, he did not see or hear most of the abuse. It never crossed my mind to tell him. When he was present, and she went off in anger about something trivial (one time is was about me saying, "It is so hot."), he did defend me and send my mother to her room (rather than me). When he found out he was dying of cancer when I was 25 years old, his first words were, "Who is going to protect you from your mother?" 

My mom was the girl scout leader and supported me in everything I did. She bought me expensive clothes (and forced me to say that I loved her when she did) and cooked me breakfast every single morning (even when I did not want her to do so when I got older). She was a good mom 90% of the time, but those 10% were not pretty. 

The mom in this book was a crazy monster 90% of the time and had 10% kindness (when she was making tea for some reason). It is interesting to see how each of the children handled their abuse. All three received it to some extent but the tender, compassionate one, Ezra, didn't receive it overtly (but I think his mother did passive-aggressively with him). In my family, my oldest half-brother (14 years my senior from my dad's previous marriage to an alcoholic crazy woman - hmm, do you see a pattern here for my dad?) and my older brother received no abuse. Nada. Nothing. I got it all when she went hysterical that 10% of the time. (I had a counselor think my mom had histrionic personality disorder but that doesn't quite fit because she did not have the "attention seeking" characteristics typical of that disorder.) 

My mom apologized to me when I was 25 years old because she found a cassette tape of a conflict that I had taped when she started to escalate. As a teen, I hid my Panasonic tape recorder behind our brown rocker in our living room and hit record when it started to go south. I forgot about it and had put it in a drawer, and she found it about ten years later and listened to the whole thing. She called me and said, "I was really mean to you when you were growing up, wasn't I?"  I said, "Yes," and forgave her. What is so weird about the taping is I never did it to have "proof" of her abuse but to see what I was doing wrong so I could learn how to not do it. (Enter a life-time addiction to people-pleasing and twisting myself like a pretzel so people will like me.) 

The apex of abuse occurred when she twisted my pinkie finger in anger until I could hear the bones breaking. She made me lie to the doctor about how it happened.  I never even thought about telling any adult or doctor about it. It was not until I was in counseling at age 30 when I was engaged to be married and my mother threatened to commit suicide because I mentioned that I was not going to have a receiving line in my wedding (and my aunt and uncle agreed that I was a disrespectful daughter and said, "And you call yourself a Christian" as they kicked me out of their house for it. Resulting in me making tearful apologies to every one for being so disrespectful). As the counselor dug deeper into my history with my mother, I casually mentioned that my mom had broken my finger in anger, and she said, "It is NEVER OK for a mother to break a child's finger." I had never even questioned this thinking if I weren't such a disrespectful daughter she would not have had to break it. A lightbulb went off. It is so obvious to me now, but I always thought it was my fault because of something I said that set her off. 

These kids did not think about telling anyone either. They just endured and learned to cope in their neurotic ways as adults. The point of view changes from the mother to the three children. So, you don't quite get that mom was abusive when you read her point of view, but it comes out through the children's narratives into their middle adult years.

This is an important book. I wish I could have read something like it when I was younger to give voice to the craziness that happened to me growing up. 

The happy part of my story is that I found a deep relationship with God through it. I had godly older women who mentored me. I received therapy, listening prayer, discipleship, spiritual direction, etc. It has all been good, and I have a sensitivity to abuse that has helped other people in abusive situations find wholeness because I have been comforted and made whole by God (2 Corinthians 2:1-3). I also married an incredibly, non-abusive, kind, generous man who comes from a very HEALTHY mom dynamic. I also did not pass abuse on to my children (as the daughter in the book did). 

 I ended up ushering my redeemed mom into heaven in the end, at total peace with her. So that was the happy ending that these children never got. That makes me sad.

This is way more than I intended to share, but I am glad that I read this book. It was more personal to me than I even realized. 

Monday, August 05, 2019

Freewrite on a Monday Morning

I am on Day 18 of this newest trial. My Enneagram Thought this morning was about Type Twos usually having a "positive outlook" on things, and that is me. I have been looking on the bright side of all of this, but the Enneagram Thought encouraged me to express my real feelings. This is hard because I really do, with all my heart, not denying, see that this has been a good thing for me! I love reading all day and not feeling guilty about it. I usually feel like I "should" be doing something. But doing something doesn't always have to be WORK. Part of it is that I am saying to myself, "You need to move to keep your muscle loose and 'motion in the lotion' for my pain management." That is "body-work" to avoid the consequences. I also count meeting with friends as part of my mental health work. So, it isn't all "work, work, work" (I feel a Rhianna song coming on). 

George is staying home for at least the morning because Paul has his one year follow up appointment for his teeth reconstruction. I think my accident was on the anniversary day of his final procedure. What a long endurance test that was.

OK, is this leg thing just another endurance test? George keeps on telling his friends that I am "tough," and years of pain in my back has made me pretty resilient. And being a college-level athlete helps too. It is amazing what you can do when you get in the right mental space. I loved that about what sports taught me about life endurance.

I don't know if I am so tough as that I am resilient and dependent. I hear that Type Twos have a hard time receiving help, and I don't have any problem with that. I have so appreciated all the meals that have come our way because I cannot cook. I so appreciate people's offers. I do have a hard time asking when others are all around me and having a good time, and I don't want to stop the fun by asking the obvious, "Could you get me some food?" It was interesting last Monday to have everyone around me eating their breakfast as I sat in the chair, and no one asked me if I wanted something to eat. I finally asked for a nectarine. I think a Type Two would ask a person who cannot walk if they could get them something, but I was the only Type Two in the room. LOL!

I have liked all the reading I have been getting through. I am trying to read 31 books in August. I don't know if that will be possible with all the books on my list that are quite long. I have also decided to read Proust. The comment by his brother that only one who is ill or has a BROKEN LEG could get through Proust's seven volumes. Well, that is me! I still laugh about that, and getting through Proust would be a life goal. I bought all seven volumes in one Kindle book for only 1.99! Can you believe it? I am reading but also listening to it on the text to speech feature, and I am tracking just fine with the digital voice (that I have turned to a British accent that makes it more fun). I listened to much of Nabokov's autobiography this way too, and that story was fascinating. I also have enjoyed listening to Shakespeare and Pygmalion. It is just nice to be reading some classics again after reading many of the Book Dames choices which where mostly non-fiction and more modern. They were actually quite good this year, but there is something about the classics that just sets my soul on fire.

I want to say that God has continued to speak to me about strengthening me with POWER through his Spirit in my inner being (Ephesians 3:16). I really believe He has met me very powerfully during my occasional low points on this journey. I just had a time of centering prayer as I meditated on POWER of the Spirit. It was great. Focus on the Lord. Draw from resources in the Spirit. That is what life is all about. 

69. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Delightful! I had only seen My Fair Lady and had never read the original play that has quite a different ending! This was so well done. I love listening to plays as I recover from this tibia fracture. Last night was one of my harder nights and listening to something that makes me laugh is just what the doctor ordered. 

Pygmalion Cover ArtIn today's world, Henry Higgins' words toward Eliza Doolittle would probably be considered abusive. Whereas in Shaw's time, it elicited laughter. Listen to it and see what you think. I always like LA Theatre Works productions. They are top-notch!  

Sunday, August 04, 2019

68. Henry V by Shakespeare

Loved it! I always start out listening to Shakespeare and panic that I am not understanding. Five minutes later I am totally engrossed and following the story! I loved this drama too. Samuel West does such a great job as Henry V! 

I have not listened to Shakespeare since my Well-Educated Mind journey of reading. Although I have gone to several plays since then. It was great to be back! 

67. Speak, Memory

This man can write! What a fascinating life. I was hoping to get more into his mind, and why he would write a book like Lolita, but it is mostly about his childhood growing up in Russia, a member of the aristocracy. He read War and Peace at 11 year old! Say what?

It gave me insight into Russia, the revolution (his family had to flee and went from rich to paupers), and on to England, France, and even Nazi Germany. It was a fascinating read, but I still want to read WHY he would want to write a book like Lolita!

66. 40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is a devotional book that I have been doing for this summer. It has excerpts from The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, Scripture for meditation, questions for journaling, and prayer for intercession. I really enjoyed it as I love those two books very much. 

Saturday, August 03, 2019

65. Lolita

This whole concept made me cringe, and it is so creepy as you read this book, but there is something about Nabokov's writing that is amazing. I could not put this book down even though it made my skin crawl at times. Who thinks to write a book about this subject? 

I read this because it is on most lists of "books to read," and I had been strongly encouraged to read it in June of 2007 by someone who loves Nabokov. I see why one would love Nabokov. The story is perfectly crafted. Seriously.

Another thing that is perfect, Jeremy Irons' narration! Then I found out he is the creepy man in a movie. I cannot imagine him playing that part. I should mention that the novel is a first person narrative (which is my favorite point of view, think Jane Eyre). So I cannot imagine being Jeremy Iron's narrating this and not wanting to throw up.  Being inside of the mind of pedophile must mess with your head. This book is about obsession and addiction. Sad. 

Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...