Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fire In My Eyes by Brad Snyder and Tom Sileo (DaCapo Press-Netgalley(ARC)

How does a family get use to the idea that their father, son or brother is working far away in a foreign country with explosives? They must worry constantly. This is the job of one American who is written about in Fire In My Eyes. I'm writing down his whole job title, or I would never remember it. It is US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officer.
When I think of dangerous explosives, I am reminded of Princess Diana. One of her concerns was unexploded explosives lying in residential areas, on beaches where children, teens and other people might walk not expecting to meet their death. I also think of a fictional character in The English Patient. He did the same kind of dangerous work. Since Fire In My Eyes is a true account, I am looking forward to learning more about the lives of these heroes. The setting is Afghanistan.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Thank You!

I received an inspiring book this week. It is a courtesy copy from Barbour Publishing. It is about illness in a family. Their struggle to help their baby deal with a terminal illness. The cover shows the love for the child. There when the baby was born and growing as the life tender moment continued. When I read about the struggles of other people whether families or single people I learn how to become less complaining in my own struggles. These lives strongly help growth in the area of perseverence, never giving up and love.

This book and its synopsis are a reminder of a Pastor's words from the scriptures a week or so ago as America traveled through the days of Black Lives Matter. For a long time, it's been my favorite scripture discovered during days at my childhood home and brought into the times of trial during marriage, motherhood and aging. The scripture helped me keep going. What helped this family go on? One of the worse scares I would think is having an infant born with an illness which could lead to the baby's death. Does it turn the family inside out? How does the family change whether positively or negatively? I don't know. Anxious to find out. So again thank you to Barbour Publishing for this non-fiction book.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Beginnings

"The Anderson shelter had guarded his life for another night, but it felt like a grave. Only the thin sheet of corrugated iron at his side separated him from the cold earth in which he was lying. He drifted in and out of a restless, shallow dream."

Continuum: A Love Poem by Maxine Kumin

going for grapes with
ladder and pail in
the first slashing rain
of September    rain
steeping the dust
in a joyous squelch   the sky
standing up like steam
from a kettle of grapes
at the boil    wild fox grapes
wickedly high    tangled in must
of cobweb and bug spit
going for grapes    year
after year    we two with
ladder and pail stained
with the rain of grapes
our private language

Maxine Kumin

Father And Son by Langston Hughes (Vintage Short)

This short story by Langston Hughes is rich in History. What does Langston Hughes leave out? Nothing. The short story takes place in Georgia. Bert is born to the White master of the plantation. His mother is a Negro or Black woman who is Norwood's mistress. Of all the children born to him, Bert is the lightest one. So many issues to discuss and think about all relevant to how Black people socialize with White people and how Black people interact with one another now, today. Of course, this is not new knowledge. All of us know about miscegenation. It's just that the scars of our History must never become raked aside as old knowledge versus new knowledge. History helps us know ourselves better. The better we know ourselves, the better we will treat one another. Also, love between different races is beautiful. The problem is many people hate it, feel shame and hurt other people for choosing to love someone from a different culture.

It breaks my heart to read that Bert wasn't allowed to carry his father's name, Norwood. His father seemed to feel his love for a Black woman in the light of day was something horrid. My question is how or what did he think about while loving her in an intimate fashion? I hate to think that he misused her body. I'm wondering if at the end of the story Norwood will ever detest himself for his actions and change toward his son and other biracial children.

Bert had to use his mother's last name, Lewis. This fact surely must enter into the way we research our family records today. Now I know the importance of facing the all of History. Our ability to learn and accept the past will determine how well we will come to know our whole selves.

How were Black people identified in household records? Sure, there is the knowledge that Black slaves were named on the list with the horses and other livestock. What else? What names were used if they were fathered by a white man or woman or black man or woman? Perhaps, this fact alone can bring those African Americans closer to their true identity. Without the true knowledge of our identity surely that must dampen our self

"But it was the Colonel's dislike of Bert that had kept him there, summer and winter, until now...And he was never homesick for the plantation--but he did wish sometimes that he had a home, and that the Colonel would treat him like a son."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Friends Of The Wigwar A Civil War Story by John William Huelskamp

I am not good at understanding war battles. However, I picked this book with the thought of learning more about the Yankees and their fight in the Civil War that divided a nation. Along the way, I found myself deeply involved with picturing the firing of guns at Fort Sumter. I always find it interesting that one state, South Carolina, decided to secede from the Union.

 In "Friends Of The WigWam,"  the author, John William Huelskamp, writes Historical Fiction so descriptively. There is the wonderful dialogue between young people. There are Civil War letters and the fictional voice of Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln and Grant.

There are photographs, paintings and other historical helps. There is no table of contents which felt strange. Not surprisingly, there is the ugliness of war; bloodshed, the death of young men . I will end with one of the most important characters to me along with Abraham Lincoln.

Ely Parker

Ely Parker"Ely Parker continued as U.S. Grant's military secretary until the end of the Civil War...He died in 1895 almost ten years after U.S. Grant, his good friend from Galena. His funeral in Buffalo, New York was attended by dignitaries from around the Country including Fred Grant, son of General Grant, and leading men and women of the Iroquois tribes"

Caught In The Act

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Perfect Horse by Elizabeth Letts (Netgalley ARC)

The Perfect Horse by Elizabeth Letts is about a beautiful horses and an ugly time. It's a time when men like German, Gustav Rau, and others of the Third Reich see the value only in the pure breed of a horse and the purity of the German, Aryan blood. There are kind hearted men like Alois Podhajsky, a veternarian, who sees in a broken horse its ability to thrive and become again valuable. Alois Podhajsky also healed many horses during this horrid time of war and hate. This is Germany, Poland and other Axis Powers during The Thirties and in to World War II. A special horse is Neapolitano Africa, Alois Podhajsky's horse which might have been left unloved and as an outcast without the vet.

At first, I thought the nonfiction story disjointed. Then, I began to see the need to fix my eyes on her goal as an author. I chose to look at the theme as one about the Jewish people parallel to the Equestrian History of the Horse. It was then that I could see the richness of the Jewish culture and the magnificent of horses like the Lippinzer and Alois Podhajsky's become raped or brutally undressed by the hands of men who were only looking for power and wanting to become the twin to a man who was so awful that people only wish to whisper his name until this very day. That man is Hitler.

I  had the chance to learn so much about horses. There are the Arabian Beauties and the Lippnizers. The grace of a horse and the hours teachers took to work with the horses at the Spanish Learning School is all fascinating. At times the historical part became dry, but the story of the horse overrides any boredom The wish to know more about the era takes over. It also was ingrained in me again not to forget the horrors Jewish people faced at places like Auschwitz during this time unless History shall repeat itself.

There are photos throughout the book. The book is also timely because of the Olympics during The Thirties. By the way, you can still visit the Spanish Riding School today. penguinrandomhouse/the-perfect-horse-by-elizabeth-letts/9780345544803/

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (Netgalley-ARC)

When I don't understand a novel, it's best to take a deep breath, slow down and relax. Because the first impressions can change for better or worse. I decided not to like a novel after reading a few chapters. The language seemed strange. However, something made me keep on reading and not stop. This morning I picked up the book again. A light began to glow. I could relate to a character. The setting seemed very personal and one I would pick for a house. I stopped. There was no need to start from the beginning again. I remembered it. I only needed to follow up on two key words, Dystopian and Survivalist.

I've read these types of novels but not in a long while. The last one I can think of is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I still like to think of the father and the son, their difficulties and the love shared between the two. The novel I'm writing about this morning is about the melting of ice, etc.  It's titled Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan. I have an ARC from Netgalley.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Our Longevity

 The beginning of The 100-Year Life by Gratton & Scott really caught my interest. I felt happy to see the personal story examples of Jane and Jack. I didn't want Jack's story to end. His reality seemed like mine. One where you work all your life, and die soon after retirement. I asked myself, 'where are the golden years?' I thought the future cities interesting also. The book shows clearly that life is going to become revolutionized, all new for the next generation. 

I did have a hard time understanding all the statistics. Numbers frighten me. No interest there, but a new interest in exploring the new world of the future where education will increase. Future students will have more universities to choose from in "smart cities." This idea of smart cities seems to contradictory. Is this a reference to more people versus machines and robots working the job market? Perhaps, I fear the word robotics.

After reading a couple more case studies, I am left looking forward to this new 100 year life. Here is a quote by Paul Auster. 'If you're not ready for everything, you're not read for anything.'

Friday, July 15, 2016

How Old Is The Moon?

In so many ways people are more alike than different. As I read There Was A Man, There Was A Woman by Sandra Cisneros, I thought of the many times missed by not pausing and looking at the gift of nature. There have been a few times nature has gave me a hard nudge. I was forced to look down or look up, as in this instance, at the moon. When I have looked up at the moon, it has always astonished me. Thinking back to the time when men walked on the moon's surface is still incredible. When I was young and heard the older people talking about their fears or their feelings of 'thou shalt not touch or go there,' there was a feeling of why not skip and play and forget about that old moon. When the astronauts brought back moon dust, I began to dream about that distant place in space.  Now, just seeing the word moon written in a book can curl my toes. If walking or riding in a car, there is excitement like seeing a newborn for the very first time.

In this short story, two people, a man and woman, look at the moon. Both are aware of it. Both have different thoughts. The man stays with his thoughts longer. He thinks about the distant past, the people who lived before he existed. At the end of the story, only wonder is left about the moon, the questions

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Resolved by Lina Abujamra

Beginning in Sunday school I heard the Bible story about David and Goliath. All Sunday school teachers and preachers taught that God would help me, little David, to fight my giants. All I needed was a sling and a stone. Lina Abujamra repeats the significance and wonder of this Old Testament story and ends with one of her ten resolutions. However, what really caught my attention was her chapter about love.
Because of current events there have been many conversations, speeches and church forums about love and its power to rid the world of hate. As the song goes, "all we need is love." Some youths have dared to say it will take more than a song about love. My goodness, such blasphemous talk against God's very own character. In Resolved by Lina Abujamra, there is given place to the thought that showing love, becoming love, giving love is not easy. As the author writes, it is not "easy peasy lemon squeezy."
The statement shook me up. If it is not easy to love, how hard is it? Is it ever possible? What are the answers? The answer is given with another resolution in a inset. It's a powerful, simple to read nonfiction book to strengthen faith while we struggle through life's battles. The author shows ways to reexamine our lives. It's a chance to rethink what might have become our traditional thinking and to continue reaching for love. "If you and I want to love others with freedom and power, we're going to have to understnad God's love for us first. That's where our "swag" comes in."

Aches, Pain And Love by Kira Lynne (ARC) (Netgalley)

"Meditation was a great way to increase my awareness around what was going on inside my mind."

When I first heard the word meditation, I felt weirdly uncomfortable. Then, I began to feel interested in it. I asked my husband 'how does a person meditate?' I asked him because he meditated often and without any trouble whatsoever. I listened more closely to the sermons in my church about meditation. Soon I learned to think about my problems. I pictured Bible stories like Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath and The Israelites and Egypt in my head. God seemed to fit the stories to my modern day life. I began to smile a little bit while the struggle was still happening.

Lately, I have a short attention span. So I haven't been meditating. Therefore, at times my troubles grow bigger and bigger, and I scream with anxiety. Kira Lynne's writings about meditation are helping me want to pull back into that inner world where God fights every battle, where I know the purpose of my suffering and where there are everlasting promises.

I find there are other popular ways of meditating offered in books, magazines or by video. I am not comfortable with all the ways. Neither do I understand each way.  Here in "Aches, Pain And Love, I find carefully placed hint which this woman used while suffering chronic pain.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Have You Ever Met A Barracuda?

I have been underwater with Cab, Vicki and other characters. It's been fascinating. Because of this novel, Cab's Lantern, I want to protect our oceans and learn more about them. Until reading this novel, I didn't know about the barracuda. I only knew about the big, bad shark. I also liked the mystery of the story. There is a lantern light. It never goes out. Why is the big question. I also liked learning about the main character's past. His failures and the strength to travel new directions in his life.

Oddly, I didn't care much about Phil and his vendetta. Perhaps, I was too focused on the relationship between Cab and Vicki. Also, I didn't believe a person could really hug a barracuda. This scene lacked reality, I thought. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, I

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Pain Is Worse Today

I fear the times are becoming harder for my people. Now death's reality has set in, it is hardened, crystallized, not all the way but a little more than yesterday. Because their loved ones are no longer coming home for dinner. They are no longer hearing the bathroom door close or hear the slam of a car door. They're spouses, parents, relatives and friends are gone. The days are long and the nights longer. I wish for the days of Lazarus. When Christ walked the earth and could hurry back to open the graves.

Death is the enemy. Death is the only one who dares not to hear the screams of protesters. Death is the one without a heart. What alley does it run through? I suppose death flies faster than an eagle. It seems indestructible. Today, the eagle has the victory. No! As we come together, "reason together," because this will happen in time, our hope for a binding love between people in the United States, no matter our differences, it will happen. Perhaps, not until that time will these words echo through our streets. "...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ"(I Cor.15:57).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"We Will Overcome These Hard Times"

 All of you know I love books whether new or old. A couple of days ago, I think Friday, I took this novel down from my bookshelf. I was looking for Six Easy Pieces by Walter Mosley. I did find it. Then, I rediscovered this fat novel titled Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas. While Walter Mosley is a well known and favorite author of mine, I know nothing about Michael Thomas except the blurbs on the inside of his book and on the outside of it. So I riffled through the pages and came back to the dedications on the front pages. What greeted my eyes? Music. I had to look up to the Heavens and say a soft thank you God. He's always there giving tiny blessings and serentipitous thoughts. The musical thought spoke to me because during these turbulent days I've heard the Chief of Police, David O. Brown, the people and other leaders like President O'bama say the word "love." 

Sometimes that one word, a very significant word, can seem trite or overused. Not during this week of pain, blood and death. It carries new meaning. I feel it's the word that will make America stronger and victorious. In Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas, one dedication is

 "We proclaim love our salvation...                              
                                --Marvin Gaye

Yes, I know Marvin Gaye is gone from us. I also know that he is a historical musical figure none of us will forget. He is one of many whom our children will meet in school and in their History books. He speaks from the grave through Michael Thomas telling us 'don't fret. Love always works.' Here is the song from which the words above come, "Wholy Holy." Thank you, Google for aiding me during a search. I wasn't familiar with the

 "Wholy Holy"

Oh Lord
We can conquer hate forever, yes we can
Ah, wholy holy, Oh Lord
We can rock the world's foundation
Yes we can
Better believe it
Wholy holy together and wholy
Holler love across the nation
Oh, oh
Wholy holy
We proclaim love, our salvation
Oooh, ooh... 
Since I haven't taken the chance to write condolences on my blog, I would like to write that my heart goes out to the immediate families and friends and the nation and those who have become involved in our troubles internationally. I deeply sympathize with each loss. 

Here is the title of this book by Michael Thomas.
"Michael Thomas was born and raised in Boston. He received his B.A. from Hunter College and his MFA from WARREN Wilson College. He teaches at Hunter College and he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their three children."

Friday, July 8, 2016

Too Quickly Gone

I was surprised to find Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous poem in the pages of Cab's Lantern by Jeff Russell. It is a tiny excerpt. It kinda fits my feelings this morning. I am really enjoying this adventure with Vicki, Cab and the other characters.

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

'The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.'

Thursday, July 7, 2016


No matter who is at fault because someone is going to be blamed whether it's the police department or the victim my heart breaks for the loss of another Black male. Here is another family prematurely broken apart with a gun or guns involved. I wanted to write about the Louisiana incident. I tried to find a poem to fit my feelings for the family. However, I found nothing except the place I like to go in times of pain, the ocean. Lo and behold, I found Sylvia Plath there too.

The Rabbit Catcher

 It was a place of force—
The wind gagging my mouth with my own,
Tearing off my voice, and the sea
Blinding me with its lights, the lives of the dead
Unreeling in it, spreading like oil.

Then, another poem  by Sylvia Plath spoke to me. The title of the poem bumped me all the way back to the Fifties. From someone or from many and somewhere I read the words of Thalidomide. wiki/Thalidomide In a new and awful and unexpected way it brought its form of anguish in the world. Babies, mothers, fathers, families were destroyed in a uniquely different way. I can not find the common denominator here. I have no fancy way to connect yesterday's pain and the pain of yesteryears, I just know all of this morning's words have connected me to the mysteries of life without me screaming why.

I suppose hurt is a string, a yo-yo. It's stretched out, pulled back and stretched out again. I don't understand it. It's like a shadow. I can only pray for a world free of dastardly mistakes and the destruction of innocence, a world where glass no longer cracks.

All night I carpenter
A space for the thing I am given,
A love
Of two wet eyes and a screech.
White spit
Of indifference!
The glass cracks across,
The image
Flees and aborts like dropped mercury

Thalidomide sold under the brand names Immunoprin, among others, is an immunomodulatory drug and the prototype of the thalidomide class of drugs. Today, thalidomide is used mainly as a treatment of certain cancers (multiple myeloma) and of a complication of leprosy.
Thalidomide was first marketed in 1957 in West Germany under the trade-name Contergan. The German drug company Chemie GrĂ¼nenthal developed and sold the drug. Primarily prescribed as a sedative or hypnotic, thalidomide also claimed to cure "anxiety, insomnia, gastritis, and tension".[3] Afterwards, it was used against nausea and to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women. Thalidomide became an over-the-counter drug in West Germany on October 1, 1957. Shortly after the drug was sold in West Germany, between 5,000 and 7,000 infants were born with phocomelia (malformation of the limbs). Only 40% of these children survived.[4] Throughout the world, about 10,000 cases were reported of infants with phocomelia due to thalidomide; only 50% of the 10,000 survived. Those subjected to thalidomide while in the womb experienced limb deficiencies in a way that the long limbs either were not developed or presented themselves as stumps. Other effects included deformed eyes and hearts, deformed alimentary and urinary tracts, blindness and deafness.[5] The negative effects of thalidomide led to the development of more structured drug regulations and control over drug use and development.[6]

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Writing Is Scary

Maybe the similarity is not there. However, this woman's need for an office in Alice Munro's story, The Office,  reminded me of Virginia Woolf's novella, A Room Of Her Own. However, my mind focused on this Mr. Malley in the short story. He tells long stories to the lady to whom he rents the office. I wonder who is more complicated as a person. The writer she is complicated. Also complicated is the man, Mr. Malley, who deeply desires to write, he feels his stories are interesting, but I don't know if he will put his words on paper. I've heard once a story is spoken there is no need to write it. It's been told.

I am the wannabe person. Nothing is so frightening as white, blank paper especially a long sheet of paper. I wish for the days when we wrote four and five page letters to friends and relatives. I remember writing my Grandmother and my Uncle. I had to write short thank you notes to relatives who sent me gifts.  I also can still see my mother patiently writing to my Dad's mother and to my sister. In school, we had Pen Pals. I had a couple from across the pond in distant countries. Those letters are no longer with me. I would love to hold them in my hand at this very moment.

Knowing the importance of writing, I tried to help my children see the importance of putting words on paper. I wanted them to keep journals. I know without a doubt each one of my children can write their feelings down whenever the desire to do it. I think they were a bit scared at first too.

I envy Alice Munro. She is a very prolific short story writer. I wonder how many short stories she has written including the ones torn up and given away. Meanwhile, this Mr. Malley is become more unlikable. I think he doubts whether a woman can use an office in a meaningful way without some shenanigans going on. Isn't that sad? "Several times after this I found notes on my door...His accusations grew more specific...He had found a whisky bottle in the garbage." I really feel like shaking this guy. I hope to see a change in his character.

When I Looked At Lois Lane, What Was It All About?

I can't believe it. In my head, Lois Lane is still dark haired, writing for the newspaper and helping Clark Kent/Superman become the master of all humans. What I can't believe is her age, ninety-five years old. I remember watching her on t.v. I haven't thought of her in years not since my comic book days. To say sorry about her death does not seem like the right words. After all,  I didn't know her personally. And I've never seen these young photographs of her. I only know about the dark haired Superman and Lois along with the telephone booth, etc. I am grateful for the memories this morning.

It all slid back in to place, the black and white t.v. and the work related romance. It was a thrill. It still is a thrill. So I do have the right to say I feel awful about Lois Lane's death. A woman who gave many people pleasure and moments of fantasy. I would love to know what was happening in the news at that time. Perhaps, the idea for Superman  flew from the pages of a true story. I wonder did my parents need a super human godlike figure to get through their daily routine.

Anyway, I'm embarrassed. I never knew her real name until this morning. Her name is Noel Neill. Lois Lane and Noel Neill seem to fit. The names seem cheerful, clean and spunky. That's what women were suppose to appear as in the Fifties.

And who was the real Superman? Was it Clark Kent, or was it really Lois Lane? The Superman myth follows all women, any color until this very day. Maybe it follows the lady running to become the first woman president, Hillary Clinton, not to mention First Lady Michelle O'bama and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, along with Chelsea Clinton and all our First Ladies and the First Daughters of the past.

I think Superman was deeper than the age old words "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Superman!" What was the underlying message that I was too young to receive as a Baby Boomer? What was it?