Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pickwick Papers Read-Along Check-in #1: March 2016

As you may already be aware, Behold the Stars is hosting 
a Read-Along for Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers
All my updates/postings will be listed on my page here.
And you can get the details and register for the event here.
This first reading installment included only the first two chapters. 
To the left is the cover image on the library copy 
that I currently have checked out. 
I do realize that I'll not be able to keep this same copy 
throughout all 21 months of this read-along event.
At some point in the future, once my renewals have been exhausted on this copy, I will need to decide whether to purchase a copy of my own or just return this one and check it out again. 
But that is a small matter. 
More important is the fact that I have read this month's installment and was very...surprised! Pleasantly so!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading these 32 pages!
So far this book has made me laugh out loud quite often! 
My husband even wanted to know what I was
reading that would make me laugh so much!
This edition is part of The Oxford Illustrated Dickens series and includes a 5-page introduction written by Bernard Darwin in March 1947. Within the first paragraph he states
There are qualities in which some of Dickens's later books 
excelled Pickwick, but they are those in which other writers 
equalled or excelled Dickens. Pickwick is richest in the qualities 
in which Dickens excelled all the other writers... (v)
He elaborates upon the fact that this one book is considered by many to be totally unique and different from all other Dickens's books--literally in a class by itself in comparison. 
In what may seem amazing to us now, 
Dickens was not even the publisher's first choice for this project, 
but thank goodness two others did not accept the offer, 
and Pickwick was born! 
This book is known for its "absence of plot," so 
I am expecting an emphasis on the characterization or 
           what I would call "a slice of life" throughout this book. 
                                            I like that prospect!
Darwin finishes this descriptive critique with accolades to Dickens's ability to develop minor characters who 
"impress themselves for ever on the memory."
After reading Darwin's Introduction, I feel as if 
this book is definitely 'in my wheelhouse'!
Dickens himself 'hooks' me in the Preface when he states
...the universal diffusion of common means of decency and health is as much the right of the poorest of the poor, as it is indispensable to the safety of the rich, and of the State... (xiv)

Chapter 1 opens with Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C. (General Chairman--Member, Pickwick Club) presenting his paper entitled 'Speculations on the Source of the Hampstead Ponds, with some Observations on the Theory of Tittlebats'! *At this point I'm thinking to myself, "Ah...farcical!" That was at the end of the third paragraph and as I continued reading, that first reaction was confirmed...repeatedly! :)* The minutes show that the officer presiding over this particular meeting was Joseph Smiggers, Esq., P.V.P.M.P.C. (Perpetual Vice-President--Member Pickwick Club)! Ha! Ha! Perpetual. Vice. President. And that name! Smiggers! Ha! Ha! I still laugh when I reread it! Or rather, I 'snigger'! Points for honesty in that 'official' title. Mr. Pickwick has proposed a 'committee' as such be formed. Smiggers announces:
'That the said proposal has received the sanction and approval of this Association.
That the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club is therefore hereby constituted; 
and that Samuel Pickwick, Esq, G.C.M.P.C., Tracy Tupman, Esq., M.P.C. [M.P.C. = Member Pickwick Club], Augustus Snodgrass, Esq., M.P.C., and Nathaniel Winkle, Esq., M.P.C., 
are hereby nominated and appointed members of the same; and that they be requested to forward, from time to time, authenticated accounts of their journeys and investigations, 
of their observations of character and manners, and of the whole of their adventures, 
together with all tales and papers to which local scenery or associations may give rise, 
to the Pickwick Club, stationed in London.' (2)
Here, I believe in this paragraph, is probably a more than adequate summary of what we will read about in the remaining 799 pages of this book! At this point I'm just hoping it doesn't become totally absurd and nonsensical. As the club members are calling out "Pickwick," 
"that illustrious man slowly mounted into the Windsor chair, on which 
he had been previously seated, and addressed the club himself had founded." (3)
Ah, well, that might explain a lot! Pickwick himself founded this "illustrious" society! 
I can only believe this is a means for satisfying his oversized ego! So, of course his own proposal to his own buddies was sanctioned and approved! ;) I'm already enjoying this! The meeting proceeds with audience cheers and hoots and hollers as Pickwick speaks and when one member, Mr. Blotton, calls him a                                  "humbug," the man explains that 

                     "he had used the word in its 
  Pickwickian sense...he had merely 
considered him a humbug in a 
Pickwickian point of view."  (5)
Ah! Well then, that was sure a relief as Mr. Pickwick reportedly 
felt much gratified by the fair, candid, and full explanation of his honourable friend. (5)
Wha...?? Oh, well, that must just be the "Pickwickian" way! 

Chapter 2 sees our esteemed previously named four esquires begin their journey the very next day. Pickwick begins his copious note-taking while riding in the cab and speaking with driver about the horse, which is supposedly 42 years old and out working 2-3 weeks at a time due to his "weakness" of falling down when not being braced and held upright by the harness apparatus! Once they reach Golden Cross, the cab driver accuses Pickwick of being an "informer" and attacks him, arousing the crowd that gathers regarding "informers." A stranger intervenes, dragging Pickwick away and ending the confrontation. As it turns out, this man is headed to the same destination as our four adventurers, so they end up traveling together. And this "loquacious" stranger provides plenty of entertainment...he NEVER shuts up! And his speech pattern is consistently sentence fragments strung together in a very choppy manner, so I can see how listeners would need to concentrate to understand him. 

Although this 'Mr. Jingle' (as he is identified only in asides) claims to have luggage being shipped, "packing cases, nailed up--big as houses--heavy, heavy, damned heavy," he seems to have a penchant for leaving the other four to pay for things and his clothing is obviously ill-fitting and rather dirty. He strikes up a conversation with Mr. Pickwick once the coach is moving...
'I am ruminating,' said Mr. Pickwick, "on the strange mutability of human affairs.'
...'Philosopher, sir?'
'An observer of human nature, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah, so am I. Most people are when they've little to do and less to get.' (13)
It was at this point that I seriously began to question this stranger's true motivation for hanging out with the Pickwickians. And I am wondering even more so that none of these four esquires is questioning his presence. The stranger joins them for drinks and keeps guzzling down the wine, also refilling everyone else's glasses. With the others asleep, the stranger talks Mr. Tupman into attending an Assembly being held in their lodging. It is a ball to raise money for charity. Tupman finally agrees and allows the stranger to 'borrow' some decent clothing. However, this kindness results in Mr. Winkle being called out to a dual the very next day by an 'injured party,' from the night before. Winkle is identified by his "bright blue dress coat, with a gilt button with P.C. on it." P.C. of course representing Pickwick Club! 
This all seems so downright silly as I review it, but it works for me!
It is entertaining and it makes me laugh!
So glad to have discovered this read-along!
If you haven't read this one, are you convinced to give it a try?
Details and registration here.
Behold the Stars' posting for this first check-in is here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

One mountain, a huge old tree, one falcon, and...

This is the cover of my book.
Or rather, my grandchildren's book!
Jean Craighead George was an amazing writer!
She is one the first authors I discovered 
writing historical fiction for children.
However, as an adult I still love reading her books!
This book will count toward Bex's Re-Readathon and #ReadMyOwnDamnBooksand now I can pass it along to my grandchildren! I can't imagine not loving this book, 
if for nothing else, than the fact that one child actually does leave home and become self-sufficient, as so many have imagined doing, but for whatever reason, failed. 
Mainly because most of us managed to "run away" 
and be gone a total of 15-30 minutes. 
Or perhaps we even made it an hour or two. 
We definitely didn't hitchhike miles away and rough it on our ancestor's abandoned now-wild grown farmland! 
It was obvious to me when I opened this book I evidently picked it up at a yard sale many moons ago for my children!
(I had written my now-abandoned married name in it!) :)
Kinda cool that now their own children will have the benefit of it in their household. 

Sam Gribley announces his intention of running away and relocating to his Great-grandfather Gribley's farm in the Catskill Mountains. Sam and his four sisters, four brothers, and Mother and Father all lived in one apartment in New York City! Although that first night was scary and cold for him, he reminded himself of the crowded aspect of that small apartment that in memory now seemed so "bright and lighted and warm." All he started with was "a penknife, a ball of cord, an ax, and $40 saved from selling magazine subscriptions. (I remembered doing that as fundraisers for various school organizations!) He was smart enough to have also purchased some flint and steel with which to start fires, though that proved harder than he had imagined it might be. He remembered how his whole family had laughed when he announced his plan, and then the last trucker who gave him a lift and dropped him off at the edge of the woods laughed at him, too! He said, 
"You know, when I was your age I did the same thing. 
Only thing was, I was a farm boy and ran to the city, and you're a city boy running to the woods. 
I was scared of the city--do you think you'll be scared of the woods?"
"Heck, no!" I shouted loudly.
As I marched into the cool shadowy woods, I heard the driver call to me,
"I'll be back in the morning, if you want to ride home." (11)
As you might expect, that first night wasn't a total success, to say the least! Sam hadn't even considered how much colder it would be in the mountains...there was still frost on the ground! 

He was anxious to catch at least one fish since he had read that
By examining the contents of its stomach you can find what 
the other fish are eating or you can use the internal organs as bait. (13)
To be fair, Sam had been taught how to whittle and tie his own fish hooks and various other outdoor/survival skills by his father, and he had obviously read and researched quite a bit. However, as with most new things we attempt, there was still room for him to learn much from experience! :) After his first hook came apart, he tied another and caught a fish right away! 
I cleaned it like I had seen the man at the fish market do, examined its stomach, and found it empty. This horrified me. What I didn't know was that an empty stomach means the fish are hungry and will eat about anything. However, I thought at the time that I was a goner. (15) 
Oh, poor Sam! I had to laugh when I read this! A lesson learned 'the hard way' that first night, was that he had 'camped' on the wrong side of the mountain and the boulder, getting all the wind and cold air blowing right on him! 
I frantically ran around gathering firewood. This is about the only thing I did right 
from that moment until dawn, because I remembered that the driest wood in a forest 
is the dead limbs that are still on the trees, and I gathered an enormous pile of them. 
That pile must still be there, for I never got a fire going. (15-16)
Throughout that first night he "shivered and shook" and later could even admit he'd "cried a little tiny bit." Following a harrowing night involving almost no sleep, Sam's wandering during his first full day in the woods is fortuitous as he happens upon a house.

The owner and resident, Bill, takes him in, feeds him, lets him sleep, teaches him how to start a fire, and allows him to sleep in his house that night. He even tells Sam as he walks away the next morning that he'll leave the door open for him that night, if he wants shelter. But Sam is determined and after three more rides, arrives in Delhi, sleeps on the schoolhouse porch that night, then goes to the library to determine where his Great-grandfather's beech tree with Gribley carved on it might be. No one he had asked in town seemed to know. Miss Turner, the librarian, takes him into the library before it is technically open and gets the information he needs, even drawing him a map. 

Sam does locate what is left of his Great-grandfather's old homestead, locates a nearby stream, and sets up camp. Eventually, he discovers a huge old tree that has died out somewhat at the base, creating a 'cavern' of sorts, and decides to live in it. He must burn and hack much wood from the inside, but he finally makes it his own. While exploring one day he discovers a peregrine falcon in flight. He stays by the stream where he has a good view of the sky and eventually is able to track it back to its nest, climbing the face of a cliff up to the nest and is able to take one of the babies. He names her Frightful and she not only provides him with companionship but is also a consistent supplier of meat for him. Interestingly, Jean Craighead George did have personal experience with falcons. Having read H is for Hawk not too long ago, I already had some knowledge gleaned from that book, which was, as expected for an 'adult' book, much more detailed, thorough, and comprehensive. 
Now that's an old cover image!
As you might expect, living alone in a natural envrionment, Sam becomes  very attuned to the slightest noises and/or changes in the natural environment. While lying quietly on his back in a meadow one afternoon, he realizes he is hearing a repetitive noise: "Pip, pop, pop, pop." He wonders aloud, 
"Who's making that noise?"
I listened. "Pip, pop." I rolled over and stuck my face in the grass. Something gleamed beneath me, and in the fading light I could see an earthworm coming out of its hole. 
Nearby another one rose and there was a pop. 
Little bubbles of air snapped as these voiceless animals of the earth came to the surface. That got me to smiling.
I was glad to know this about earthworms. I don't know why, 
but this seemed like one of the nicest things I had learned in the woods--that earthworms, lowly, confined to the darkness of the earth, could make just a little stir in the world. (58)
I loved this bit of observation of one of the smallest animals and most elusive, except following a rain, when I have noticed them coming up through the ground, though it was never quiet enough for me to hear the accompanying noises. 

Sam is quite the smart person. His mother has taught him well about nutrition and the necessary nutrients to include in his diet. He starts feeling rather strange during the winter and realizes that he is probably experiencing the effects of a nutritional deficiency. He manages to get some deer from hunters who have shot them, are unable to locate them, and leave the woods without the animal, which has since wandered off and died of its wounds. At this point I must admit I questioned whether someone could skin and butcher a whole deer with nothing more than a penknife, but okay, I'll buy it...for now. :) I do realize that when you have no available options, you can sometimes make do with inferior equipment! I tell myself this is exactly what Sam did. It is while he is dressing out the deer that he realizes he is drawn to and craving the liver and immediately cooks and consumes it, and feels much better afterward. It is later that he realized he was lacking in vitamin C due to no fresh greens, fruits, etc., as he had been eating during the growing season. I also wondered if he might not have been somewhat anemic, too, since liver is so very iron-rich. But he learns that liver is an excellent source of vitamin C. He is amazed that basically his body knew what it needed. 

Amazingly, Sam makes a couple of friends in the woods, two hikers who stumble across him or vice versa, and finally a reporter who agrees to stay quiet if he can come stay with Sam for a week or so and experience this self-sufficient solitary lifestyle for himself. A game warden has also discovered his "camp," but Sam manages to avoid him for a night and two days, until he leaves. It is then that Sam realizes he needs to better camouflage his tree and the surrounding area, and does so. Then his father comes to visit around Christmas time, too. He is quite impressed with Sam's skills, determination, and perseverance. And the following spring he has a surprise when his father leads reporters and photographers into the woods to meet with and interview Sam. And...then tells Sam they have decided if he won't return to the city, they are bringing the family out to him in the woods! He has had lumber hauled in and commences to build a house for them all to live in. Not exactly what Sam had planned, but...he virtually has no choice! He is still a minor, after all! And they are his parents and must care for him until he is old enough to legally live on his own. 

It was fun to re-read this 50 years later! 
I could easily imagine why it had made such an impression upon me at 10 years of age! 
I had forgotten there are drawings of the various plants Sam collected and ate and 
diagrams for items Sam constructed: animal traps, his bed, a very small clay stove, etc.
And now I see she continued writing about Sam, making this a trilogy, with 
On the Far Side of the Mountain 
released in 1990 and 
Frightful's Mountain released in 1999.
George died in 2012 at 92 years of age. 
What a talent she had!
Oh, and, of course, I will be reading 
these next two books and 
purchasing them for my grandchildren, too!

And...I just discovered what is evidently
                                         a picture book:
 I can't wait to get my hands on this!!  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Three survivors, one raft, and one small island..

I last read this book when I was about 13. 
I remembered just how much I loved it then and want to send it to my grandchildren.
However, before mailing it off, I wanted to re-read it.
Especially since I'm participating in Bex's Re-Readathon
And this one also counts for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and Historical Fiction!
So glad I did. This book is so very powerful!
The beautiful hardcover I purchased
from my favorite local indie
bookstore for my grandkids!
Though I remembered some of the main points from my initial reading, I certainly did not remember everything! It was virtually impossible to imagine Phillip's predicament in almost every aspect! Poor guy!
One minute you and your mother are traversing the sea on a marine vessel and the next you awake and are drifting aimlessly on a raft, with a strange old man and a cat! Eek!
Although, for me...a CAT!! Yes!! I do love a furry feline! :)
 And all this when only a few days earlier, Phillip had thought
I was not frightened, just terribly excited.
War was something I'd heard a lot about, but had never seen.
The whole world was at war, 
and now it had come to us in the warm, blue Caribbean. (10)
 This rang so true to me as the thought process of an 
 11-year-old child! Just purely curious... Following the initial 
 attack,  Phillip  defies his mother's edict and goes out to the  bridge/water area  which was to be forbidden territory to him. Though I must give him credit for not lying and admitting where he'd been. As so often happens, he just wanted to see what he could see. However...
My mother closed her eyes and pulled me up against her thin body. She was like that.
One minute, shaking me; the next, holding me. (14)
And, oh, isn't that just so true! I know there were times when I did exactly that with my own sons! I get it! And I'm sure they and their wives all do the same thing to their own children on occasion! Phillip wondered why his father hadn't simply ordered his mother to just stay on the island, then realized that he "just wasn't that kind of man." I don't know. Wow, that would be a hard call, but I believe that if my spouse was considering evacuation during wartime when the area had already been attacked...I might have fought very hard for them to stay and keep the family unit together. 
Initially, it is very difficult for Phillip to accept the fact that his only companions were Timothy, a very large Negro who appeared to be quite old, and a "big black and gray cat." No sign of his mother. And once he heard Timothy speak he realized he was a native of the West Indies and remembered seeing him work as a member of the deck gang of the Hato, the ship on which he and his mother had sailed. It was very difficult for Phillip to ignore the fact that to him Timothy appeared to be ugly and old, and the fact that he was a Negro didn't help at all, especially when his mother had made it clear that Negroes were "different" and "lived differently," and "That's the way it must be." He had been taught there should always be a separation from the Negroes. And here he was...with no choice! 

Phillip's head hurt mightily and Timothy explained something large and heavy had hit him in the head and it was Timothy who had hoisted him out of the water and onto the raft. A few days later the pain in Phillip's head subsides, but he is left totally blind, with no vision whatsoever. Of course, he panics,
I'll never forget that first hour of knowing I was blind. 
I was so frightened that it was hard for me to breathe. 
I was as if I was put inside something that was all dark and I couldn't get out. 
I remember that at one point my fear turned to anger. Anger at Timothy for not letting me stay in the water with my mother, and anger at her because I was on the raft. I began hitting him and 
I remember him saying, "If dat will make you bettah, go 'ead." (46)
Timothy was wise in so many ways. And always trying to help Phillip, not just with physical survival, but as true moral support. At this point Timothy tells the story of a man with similar injuries, but that his sight returned within 3 days. Weeks later Timothy states it was months before other man's sight returned. When Phillip questions him about this discrepancy, Timothy admits he can't remember exactly how much time elapsed, but knows his sight did return. At which time Phillips rightfully deduces Timothy is just trying to give him hope, and he appreciates his efforts. 

Timothy does so much more than that, however. He has enough skills to be able to catch fish, make fires, build a make-shift shelter, weave sleeping mats, build a crude containment system for trapping rainwater to drink and cook with. Not only this, but he creates an environment within which Phillip can learn to be sulf-sufficient on his own, just in case he is left to his own devices. Granted, they had the extra advantage of the supplies stored in the compartment in the middle of the raft: 
"We 'ave rare good luck, young bahss. D'wattah kag did not bus' when d'raff was launch, an' we 'ave a few biscuit, 
some choclade, an' d'matches in d'tin is dry. 
So we 'ave rare good luck." He grinned at me then. (32)
As you might imagine, Timothy was only able to view all this as bad luck, at the ship being torpedoed, at his mother's unknown whereabouts, at his father's lack of knowledge that he was abandoned on this raft floating in the water with no sight of land... Timothy was able to think about immediate survival whereas Phillip was grieving all he'd lost, you would expect a child to do. Timothy admits he is uncertain as to his own age, but is aware he is at least 60 years old. Phillip immediately tells him he is almost 12, so that he will stop treating him like a child half his age! :)

Although they have a signal fire all setup on a rise and ready to light at any time, they only hear a plane a few times. There are so many islands similar to this one, it would be virtually impossible to search them all up close. Phillip is able to help Timothy in an area where his knowledge is limited. He is evidently illiterate and Phillip is able to help him form the letters H, E, L, P, with rocks just next to the signal fire. Phillip is kind and wise enough to realize this, but not mention it to Timothy and just help him... As much as I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine being in this situation, I cannot imagine the utter hopelessness that much follow when you hear a plane as it nears the island, and then as it goes further away without showing any signs of having noticed the island or those on it. That would be totally devestating, wouldn't it? 

It made me rather sad to consider this as a possibility, but I could only imagine that Timothy may well have felt responsible for Phillip's well-being due to much more than the fact he was an adult and Timothy a child. Timothy's initial use of the word "bahss" to address Phillip denoted the overt social hierarchy evident in the 1930's/1940's, that white men were bosses of the black men. Although their solitude and skills actually reversed that hierarchy on the island, initially, it was quite evident in both their actions and thoughts. Things progress about as well as they could have. They are able to fish and find enough food to eat, but the weather presents insurmountable challenges at times. A hurricane hits and survival is tenuous at best...regardless of all Timothy's pre-planning and safety precautions.

The first cover image above is a bit misleading, as Timothy made sure Phillip was tied to the with Phillip right behind him, sandwiching Phillip between the tree and the man, protecting him as much as possible. Simply put, Timothy thought of virtually everything! 

Honestly, you should read this book, and if you have children? Definitely! 
It would make a great book to share by reading aloud.
Or they could just read it and discuss it with you. 

I have the sequel, which is actually a prequel, Timothy of the Cay on hold at my library. 
I can't imagine that this book, detailing the Timothy's life prior to the ship going down, 
won't be just as good as The Cay, but I really must know!
And if I like it as much as I suspect I will, then I'll purchase and send it to the grandchildren.

Do you read much "children's literature"?
I find I still love it, and appreciate having 11 grandchildren as a handy excuse to read it! :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Day in the Life...

I just discovered this meme and annual event yesterday! (I love this graphic!) 
This is the brain-child of Trish of Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity!
I particularly appreciate the bit of history she provides to the establishment of this event!

It is a rather unique idea and after reading several other bloggers' posts decided I would give it a go this year, too. Although I am a bit tardy, it's okay, right?!? :)

My Thursday, March 24, 2016

5:23AM Although my alarm is set for 5:30AM, I awake and wonder what time it is. It feels
              close to awakening time, but I'm not sure. Usually, I do my best NOT to look at my 
              phone/alarm, since I have found that can sometimes get my mind working and it 
              can be a task to turn it off once again and resume sleeping! (I read this tip
              about 20 years ago and it made sense to me. Once I started noticing, I discovered 
              it did sometimes happen to me! Hence, it is one of the hints I suggest to those 
              friends who may complain about not being able to sleep soundly.) 
              However, I probably should greatly qualify this statement since my husband may 
              read this and comment...the truth is...I rarely have ANY trouble sleeping! Rarely! 
              Even if awakened, I am able to go right back to sleep immediately 99.9% of the 
              time! My comment to him periodically is..."Remember, awaken me only for a 
              natural disaster, 'cause I'll probably not be aware..." I do sleep like a log. And, 
              typically once I'm in bed and the light is out, it is at most only a matter of a 
              few minutes before I'm snoring away. :) And, yes, especially as I get older 
              (approaching 60!) I appreciate this ability more and more!

5:30AM And as it should my alarm on my phone begins to bring me out of my deep sleep 
              over the course of 20 minutes. Yes, you read that right, 20 minutes! As easy as it 
              is for me to fall asleep, it is in turn at least that difficult for me to wake up in the 
              morning!! :) (As both my grandmother and mother could confirm from my youth!) 
              I had been looking at "Zen" alarm clocks throughout the years. These use sounds 
              that gradually bring your mind out of a deep sleep rather than shocking it to 
              wakefulness with loud noises. (Which honestly rarely worked for me!) They were 
              priced at $150 and up--beyond what I was willing or, let's face it, able, to spend for 
              an alarm clock. With my first smart phone purchase I searched through available 
              alarm clock apps and discovered Progressive Alarm Clock. Upon reading about it, 
              I was more than happy to pay the small price of $3.99 to try it. (I see the price is 
              currently $1.99-- a bargain! ;)) And...I love it! Not only does this gently persuade 
              me to full wakefulness, it also ensures I am not ANGRY about having to get up! 
              That was definitely a new experience for me! A very pleasant change, I might add!
              I keep snoozing off and on...until...

5:48AM Okay, alarm off, phone and charging cable in hand and glasses on. I'm ready to 
              exit the bedroom and start my morning routine. (I try to be quiet so as not to wake 
              my husband!) Per the usual, I am escorted out by my beautiful 18-year-old feline 
              housemate, Smokie! (I wonder if she believes I am unable to make my way out on 
              my own! :) Though I love having her 'attend' to me first thing!) I change clothes, 
              start water heating in the tea kettle, and pet and wish a "Good morning!" to all 5 
              felines with whom we share our abode. While my tea steeps I complete five 
              minutes' practice of "five animals." This is a Chi Kung exercise. In the past I would 
              complete a short form of Taichi, then Chi Kung forms, then a hand-held weights 
              workout for a total of 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes of physical exertion. 
              have not done much of this in my mornings since I began caring for my mother 
              about 4 years ago. And, trust me, I can tell. Having dealt with osteo-arthritis from 
              the age of 18, I can attest to the benefits of working the body's chi and getting the 
              blood pumping with weights. I am at the beginning stages of renewing my efforts in 
              this area of my life. As my new D.O./Primary Care Provider said, "It only takes 5 
              minutes per day of exercise to make a positive change in your fitness level." So 
              true! So rather than think of the 60 minutes or more for me to complete the whole 
              workout, I am simply starting with 5 minutes, and so far it is working! As I feel 
              better I will keep adding to it. Note: I have my husband to thank for Taichi and Chi 
              Kung, as he teaches both (along with Sword Form). Just one of the many many 
              benefits of having this man in my life!

6:05AM All settled in "my chair" with earbuds in, Holosync meditation playing on my 
              phone/in my ears, two kitties in my lap, one on the back of my chair, and one on 
              the arm! I play several games on my phone, then read The Cay by 
              Theodore Taylor. (Part of my Re-Readathon project hosted by Bex of 
               An Armchair by the Sea!) Meditation lasts 60 minutes, so... (NOTE: I also have 
               my husband to thank for the Holosync recommendation. I discover it helps me 
               immensely with remaining calm and more focused throughout the day.)

7:15AM I force myself out of the chair to complete the morning routine and head out to the 
              office. :) (I find it tough to put the book down...but that is typical for me!) I feed the 
              fur-babies their first of two 'wet food' feedings for the day, also refilling their bowls 
              of dry food and water. As they eat (I have one I must watch because she will chase 
              others away from their bowls sometimes...), I consume my Isagenix meal-
              replacement shake, and check the weather on my phone so I can know how to 
              dress for the temperature, etc. (BTW, I have used Isagenix about 7 years now and 
              attribute it with keeping me off the anti-inflammatory medications!) I dress, comb 
              my hair (quit wearing make-up about 10 years ago), brush my teeth, get my 
              cooler packed, kiss my husband, and head out the door at... (NOTE: I always have 
              a soft-side cooler with me during the workday because I haul my own super-
              filtered water to drink! Yes, I am THAT picky! I usually drink 1-1 1/2 liters of water 
              during the workday, some of that with green tea. I also haul all our drinking and 
              cooking water into the house! I admitted I am picky!)

7:45AM My commute is roughly 45 minutes and I usually use this time to (1) check my 
              phone for traffic jams as I near the city, (2) listen to NPR on the radio or use my 
              phone to listen to NPR podcasts, Ted Talks, etc. 

8:35AM I clock in at work. Today is a busy day at work as I have much to do to finalize 
              preparations for tomorrow. :) Our students will be here for a day-long finale to their 
              current clinical rotation. Since I am the administrative assistant who coordinates all 
              the details (scheduling, paperwork, certification, etc.) for the rotations, I must be 
              organized and ready! :) I field emails, organize files, complete forms, etc.

10:05AM Time for a cup of green tea and a snack! Plus a bathroom break!

10:20AM Back at it. Finalizing, posting, and emailing Information Sheets, printing and 
                organizing materials for upcoming Accreditation review, entering evaluation data 
                and scheduling information into our electronic tracking system students use while 
                on clinical rotations. Dealing with students' questions, email messages, etc.

12:58AM Hungry, but not too. Another cup of green tea and some crackers and cheese and
                homemade cream of asparagus soup! Yay! Short break. 

1:12PM More of the same work tasks from this morning. (Never done... Job security I 
              guess! :)) More emphasis on pulling reports from the electronic system this 
              afternoon and planning tasks for the student worker to complete next week. (Next 
              week will be quite a break. Only two faculty in, me, and our student worker during 
              her scheduled hours. It is Spring Break so no students to interrupt me! It should be 
              very productive!)

2:30PM Yipes! Meeting with the Clinical Coordinator to update the rotation schedule for the 
              next 5 months! 

3:30PM Return to office and take break to get more tea and eat some cottage cheese! :)

3:50PM Back at it! I feel as if the electronic files are NEVER fully organized, especially my 
              email folders! But that doesn't prevent me from persevering!

5:40PM Time for a restroom break and some more tea. I have about an hour to complete 
              all my tasks.

5:50PM Finishing the final list and emailing students.

7:00PM Done! On my way home. I could stop at the library to pickup a book I had on hold, 
              but I really just want to get home, especially since my husband is teaching this 
              evening and I want to feed the 'feline herd'!

7:45PM The fur-babies greet me at the door. They're ready for that second wet food 
              feeding of the day! I feed them, refill their dry food and water, and eat some yogurt. 
              Then...I have dessert! Ice cream! It is one of our absolute favorite foods! (I fully 
              admit that one of the advantages of an "empty nest" once my three children were 
              out on their own, is that I can eat whatever I want to eat whenever I want to eat it!) 
              I unload the cooler, change, and settle into my chair to read and blog.

8:30PM I finish the children's book I am reading for Bex's Re-Readathon--The Cay by 
              Theodore Taylor, and begin re-reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell for my 
              book club meeting this Saturday. This is an awesome book and I'm looking forward 
              to immersing myself in it tomorrow evening so I'll be ready for book club on 
              Saturday afternoon. (I read this at the end of 2014, so must refresh my 
              memory to enable discussion...since I'm old!) I also catch up on games on my 
              phone and complete my blog post/review of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, which
              is an absolutely amazing book that I believe everyone should read! :)

10:20PM My husband is home and we talk for a bit. I change and get ready for bed. 

10:55PM I am in bed, set my alarm, and snuggle in. 
               (A couple of felines come in to check on me!)

Not so interesting, but it's rather fun to write it all down, isn't it? 
Although our days seem mundane, really, we do accomplish a lot, don't we?
Now I'm anxious to read others' posts