Sunday, February 28, 2016

Another little house out west...

Little House on the Prairie 

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Don't forget to check out others' reviews using the links here and here
Linky chose not to work so well for us this month, so links only posted to each of our sites, but not simultaneously on both! :(
Also #littlehouseRAL on Twitter!
I can relate to Pa's evaluation that there were too many people 
living in the Big Woods now. 
Though to those living in a city this may seem preposterous! I am a country girl at heart. Although I was born in a city and spent my first 4 years living there, my memories are of my grandmother's 180-acre farm and every critter, varmint, and building thereon! :) 
I now live in a very small town, and am fortunately at the edge of it, 
but have decided I definitely prefer living around livestock and open fields!
People can be scary! :)
Talk about travel delays! At one point in their journey following days of rain,
  they had to wait a week before the creek went down and the mud dried so that Pa could dig the wagon wheels out of it and go on. (12)
And it's not as if they were staying in a hotel during that week, either! Now that's what I call "roughing it"! The water level was deeper than Pa thought as they crossed the creek, and Jack, their watchdog didn't make it with them. Although as they prepared to cross Laura had asked Pa to put him in the wagon with them. Of course I'm saying out loud to myself as I read, "Yes, Pa, you should put Jack in the wagon! Don't take chances!" So I was angry with Pa for his lack of protection of Jack. Personally, I thought it was mean to make Jack walk the whole way anyway--he should have been in the wagon at least part of the time! Poor guy!

Again, we get more proof of the various dangers involved with frontier life at the time. Poor Ma trying to help lift the logs for the house and luckily she only got a sprained ankle/foot. I kinda blamed Pa again...and he admitted
  "I blame myself," said Pa. I should have used skids. 
  It was Providential that the foot was not crushed. Only a little hollow in the ground had saved it. 
Not as if you could hop in the car and head to a doctor or hospital or you could call an ambulance. If you were hurt, you were hurt and had to make do. Fortunately, it didn't take long for Ma to heal, though there was no 'staying off her feet' or 'resting' in the meantime! 

I loved the story of the two bachelors who had each purchased farms adjacent to one another and then built one house that spanned across both property lines. 
  One man's bunk was against one wall of the house, and the other man's bunk was against the other wall. So each man slept on his own farm, although they were in the same house and the house was only eight feet wide. They cooked and ate together in the middle of the house. (87-88)
Many of us would freak out at having to live in a house only eight feet wide. Just think of the size of houses now, comparatively! I thought these two were pretty smart! 

And Pa being surrounded by a pack of 50 wolves! Oh, my goodness! Fortunately, he was on horseback and was smart enough and able to keep the horse from running. It reminded me of one time when I was mowing with a push mower alongside the road. The grass was rather tall and I was advancing a few steps and then backing up so the mower could 'breathe' and not stall. As I took a step backward, a flash of color caught my eye and I stopped and looked to my left, and crossing the road was the largest snake I have ever seen in the wild. It was as long as the road was wide and it's head was almost to my feet, just about 6 inches behind me! I. Was. Petrified. I knew I shouldn't move. I should stay still. I figured the sight and sound of the mower might be an advantage, something to distract it from me. So I stood still, turned my head back toward the front and kept my eyes looking downward until it had finally slithered all the way past me and was a good 10 feet or so from me and I lit out as fast as I could and felt I was literally running for my life! I can't remember a time I was ever so glad to be in my house as I was that day! And I was grateful that my children hadn't been outside at the time since they were only 2, 4, and 6 years of age! That snake had a colorful pattern of yellow, green, brown/tan, and some red that I had never seen before and have never seen since. I was just grateful it had decided I was not a threat. Oh, and I left the mower running and refused to go back outside. My husband shut it off when he arrived and pushed it back to the house. As you might imagine, I was quite wary for the next several days when I went outside. And I couldn't stop thinking how grateful I was that I hadn't stepped another 6 inches back directly into its path. It still makes a shiver run up and down my spine at the memory. Much as I'm sure I would have reacted if that pack had then surrounded my house at night and howled! Thank goodness they were safe and snug in a house by then! 

Being careful with the fire in the fireplace because the top is nothing more than wood strips woven together. Granted they are green, but eventually they will dry out and become a fire hazard! I could relate to Laura's description of their first meal in the house when Ma was able to roast a prairie hen in the new fireplace. That had to be a good feeling after all the days and nights spent "camping out." Though eventually the wooden part at the top did catch fire, and luckily, Ma was able to put it out before the whole house burned down! Talk about stressful!

And then the digging of a well was so dangerous! Pa's method of sending a candle down before going down into the pit reminded me of the way they used to send canaries down into mines to determine whether the gas was too lethal to allow men to descend and work underground in that location. If the canary was still alive and breathing, much as whether the candle was still lit, once pulled up from underground, that was a sign it was safe enough for humans to survive. Poor Mr. Scott had thought using the candle was unnecessary, but he soon discovered otherwise when he passed out. Luckily Pa realized soon enough and was able to climb down the rope, tie Mr. Scott to the bucket/rope and climb back out. Then they were able to bring the man up along with the bucket and he was alive. But it was close! Way too close and Ma broke down and lost it.
My goodness gracious! Scaring a body to death, all for the want of a little reasonable care! My goodness! I--" She covered her face with her apron and burst out crying.
  That was a terrible day. (156)
Then as they neared the end of the well digging, Pa's spade suddenly went all the way into the ground, up to the top of the handle and he yelled "Pull, Scott! Pull!" Though Pa didn't wait and started climbing up the rope hand over hand to get out, proclaiming
  "I'm blamed if that's not quicksand!" 
  "A good six feet of this rope's wet," Mr. Scott said, winding it up...."You showed sense in getting out of that hand over hand, Ingalls. That water came up faster than I could pull you out." Then Mr. Scott slapped his thigh and shouted, "I'm blasted if you didn't bring up the spade!" 
  Sure enough, Pa had saved his spade. (159)
On that aforementioned 180-acre farm of my grandmother's we had what was called a "running well," where water bubbled up out of the ground 24/7. Fortunately the water level never accumulated too high, and wading in that water was a shock to your feet and your whole body (If you stayed in it long enough!), it was sooooo cold! And wonderful to drink! On the "back" of that farm was a spring that had been tapped so water could be provided to the cattle...and me when I was back there! 

Pa had mistakenly assumed the Indian path that ran alongside the site of their house was unused. Not so. It turned out it was used constantly when Indians were living in the area. That provided some scary times for Ma when Pa wasn't around. They would literally just walk into the house and take whatever they wanted. Of course, it was their land, so in effect, they felt whatever the white folks had brought onto their land was theirs to have if they wanted it. Not sure I could disagree with that philosophy overall, and I appreciated Pa's ability to treat them respectfully and not fear them overly much. 

I wasn't sure I agreed with Ma when she made Mary and Laura string the beads they had found to give Carrie a necklace. Carrie was so young she couldn't understand not to pull at it and break the string holding the beads, so Ma's solution was to put the necklace away until she was old enough to wear it. I don't know. I would have let the two girls keep their beads and do with them as they wished. But that's me. I feel it's important for each child to have things of their own in addition to communal belongings. I had never heard of malaria out west during the frontier days. I have always associated it with other countries and more tropical climates. But they were all sick at the same time and Jack had actually accosted the black man who was a doctor to the Indians as he passed the house. He entered and discovered them and then had Mrs. Scott come to take care of them until they began to recover sufficiently they could care for themselves once again. Wow, but for Jack (Who Pa hadn't wanted to bother putting in the wagon before crossing the swollen creek.) they might have all died. And then poor Jack wouldn't stop trying to attack the Indians and eventually had to be chained all the time. I felt so very sorry for him. I cannot abide seeing an animal chained. 

While I do not agree with the "Manifest Destiny" doctrine employed by white people and other immigrants to the U.S., Pa explained it to Laura:
  "When white settlers come into a country, the Indians have to move on. The government is going to move these Indians farther west, any time now. That's why we're here...White people are going to settle all this country and we get the best land because we get here first and take our pick. Now do you understand?"
  "Yes, Pa," Laura said. "But, Pa, I thought this was Indian Territory. "Won't it make the Indians mad to have to--"
  "No more questions, Laura," Pa said, firmly. "Go to sleep." (237)
Out of the mouths of babes... When word gets out that the U.S. government is supposedly coming to move these white settlers off Indian land, Pa decides not to wait for such forced displacement and they hitch the ponies to the loaded wagon and take off for land located even further west. 

I cannot imagine all the work required to build a new house with every relocation.
Just think of it... Pa had already built two homesteads and now there would be a third. 
Again, as with the first book, the details of the work required were amazing.
I loved all the woodworking described in this book! 
I am enjoying this saga immensely!
Are you reading along with us?
Looking forward to Farmer Boy next month. 
I will be interested to see which of these books are my favorites 
by the time I've read the whole series. 
I believe I've liked both of the first two about the same.
How about you?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 2016 Library Checkout

February 2016
A great monthly check-in about Library reading hosted by Shannon of River City Reading!

I am so excited to have discovered and begun using the listing function on my local library's network site! I now have a list for the books I will check out and read for the Book Challenge by Erin 4.0, a "Diversity" listing, a "Really really want to read, once available" list, "Borders Book Club" (the face-to-face book club I facilitate) and a "Nonfiction" list! (My nonfiction reading last year was woefully low and mostly autobiographies. I will correct that!) I can add books whenever and then when I want to place holds, voilà! There they are--easy peasy! :)

I did slow down on holds, but now look at the amount of books I have checked out! 
And still so many to review on my blog yet! Yikes!! Okay, really, I love it! :)

Books Read: 
**Reviews/blog posts can be viewed by clicking on the title. 
If I have not yet completed a blog post, it will link to my Goodreads review.

1) Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story by Oliver La Farge
One of our Borders Book Club members who winters in warmer climes is reading this for her "other" book club and it sounded fascinating! It won the Pulitzer Prize for Novel in 1930. I am finishing this one today. I love the information it provides regarding Navajo beliefs and communication, etc. And it is not just a narrative of such, but a true depiction as played out in peoples' lives. Even better! My only possibly negative comment has to do with the fact this is written by a white male, Harvard-educated anthropologist...that opens up my mind for much discussion regarding authenticity... Research awaits! :)

2) Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Oh, my goodness! I cannot believe how this book impacted me. Viscerally. Permanently. I want to know more about WTO, IMF, World Bank, etc., though I have a feeling I really don't WANT to know more because it would only make me doubt whether as a species humanity is ever going to learn each human is to treat each individual with respect, kindness, I can't begin to put my reactions into words just yet in the aftermath of this one. Everyone should read it, in my opinion! And this is one where the title and cover image are so symbolic of the story!

3) Bury the Lead by David Rosenfelt
#3 in the Andy Carpenter series.

4) Sudden Death by Davis Rosenfelt
#4 in the Andy Carpenter series.

5) My Son's Story by Nadine Gordimer
A selection for Book Challenge by Erin 4.0! Actually, at 52 pages in this was a very slow moving narration. I took a break and read a couple of mysteries, then returned and finished this one. It was intense. Rather depressing overall. And again, why must people die for social change to occur? *SMH* 

Currently Reading: 
1) Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
This is the March read for the Campus Book Club. I can't attend the meeting but was a bit curious about the book so will read and review... I am honestly surprised at how much I like this book! 

Checked Out, TBR:
1) Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
This book was mentioned as one that Ivoe, Jam on the Vine's protagonist, was reading. This is a classic! 

3) Ana of California by Andi Teran
Supposedly a modern-day retelling of Anne of Green Gables. I typically stay away from retellings but for some reason was attracted to read this! Probably due to the Green Gables Read Along I completed last year!

4) My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
The first book selected for Emma Watson's Feminist Book Club on Goodreads! :) This one is actually waiting for me at the library...the new and more convenient library from which I will do most of my library 'business' in the future! :) Actually, I'm picking this one up this evening!

5) The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The first in the Mary Russell series. She will be one of the authors at the CHG Guild Book and Author Luncheon in April. The 14th book in the series will be released in April. I own a couple of the books in this series but always try to read the first in a series before any others to determine whether I like it or not...hence the hold! :) One of my former coworkers at Borders loves this series.

6) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The only reason I am not purchasing? Trying not to bring any more books into my house for keeps! :) I am excited that 6 months have elapsed from the release date so I can obtain a copy through the local interlibrary loan network! I just can't imagine that this will not be a great read for me! 

7) Smashed, Squashed, Splattered, Chewed, Chunked, Spewed by Lance Carbuncle
A dog and his human are parted and trying to get back together. I'm bettin' I'm gonna love it or not like it much...of course, I'm hopeful it's the former! But, it's a dog...and his human... :) The Borders Book Club I facilitate decided to read this! 

8) Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Had to see what I thought about this one after reading Manno at Dilettante Artiste's review! It is touted as a feminist read. 

9) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The second book selected for Emma Watson's Goodreads Feminist Book Club! For February 2016. 

10) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
This looks as if it will be an amazing read!

Returned Unread:
None...yet! Although that will most likely change as I have resigned from my local library's Board of Trustees (Let's just cite "insurmountable philosophical differences" with a majority of the Board membership as my reason!) and will no longer have that enviable "no fine" perk! This will be a challenge for me, but may help me not get quite so "hold crazy" in the I obviously was in January! :)

On Hold: 
1) House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
Pulitzer Prize Winner 1969. I intend for this to be somewhat of a companion read to Laughing Boy (first book on this list). Momaday is Native American, not just an "observer" and though there are three decades between these publications, it might give me a chance for comparison. At least more exposure to Native American literature.

What have you checked out lately at your library? 

All is not to be laughed about...

Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story by 
Oliver Hazard Perry La Farge
I kid you not with this author's name. 
He was named for his great-great-grandfather, Oliver Hazard Perry

I only learned of this book through one of my Borders Book Club members. She and her husband "winter" in warmer climes each year 
and she participates in a book club there. 
Haivng mentioned this as their next read, 
I naturally had to check it out 
and decided to literally check it out from the library 
and read it myself!

This would be an interesting book to discuss with others.
However, I would love to know how indigenous people felt about this book at the time of its publication.
Did it reflect life as it was for them? How accurate was it? accurate could it be? 
Since this Harvard-educated white male simply "studied" these cultures?
I am not trying to downplay or in any way discount or denigrate any positive results this man's study and writings may have had, but these are questions I asked as I was reading. Granted, La Farge did join and/or lead organizations which championed American Indian rights in his lifetime, but is that the same as living and actively participating within a culture/society? This is the age-old controversy of anthropological study and resulting publications. This book did win the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, so I'm certain it did advance a certain amount of awareness and knowledge of indigenous people in the U.S. at the time and into the future, and that is a good thing! And as we now realize, any "author" always inserts his/her own life experience into their own writing to varying degrees, no matter what the subject matter. There is very little to no chance of any human being ever reporting objectively, though s/he can try to do so.

This book did a great job of demonstrating the marginalization created for Native American children who were kidnapped from their own homes and "re-educated" in English-speaking schools. In hindsight, I can only wonder at the underlying thought processes and motivations of white people at that time. I can only assume they felt they were doing what was best, but...really?!? To kidnap children from their homes, isolate them from their families and others within their communities and then force them to learn to live life as a member of a different culture/society. What if indigenous people had done that to white children/families at Plymouth Rock? Would that have been acceptable? But I digress...

To his credit, La Farge did not just turn his back on indigenous people once he "studied" them, but instead he published a body of nonfiction as well as fictional materials to inform others of the plight of their cultures and societies as a result of "European colonization of the Americas," as the Wikipedia article is aptly entitled. Those who landed at Plymouth Rock and were eventually able to establish a "colony" were far from the first to settle this area we now call "the United States of America." Although we were all taught otherwise in public school history classes, those were in fact lies or at the very least, omissions of historical progression...sad, but true... There were many thriving civilizations throughout this land prior to the arrival of "invaders" from England and that Spanish explorer, Columbus. What they brought to this land was disease and oppression overall...virtually annihilating those who were already settled in this land.

As to the book itself, I thought it did a good job of illustrating a Native American lifestyle, as embodied within the relationship between Laughing Boy and Slim Girl. (Though there is no way I can know this was accurate...) The reader learns of the hierarchy within this Native American family and how long-term committed relationships between partners begin and are sanctioned (or not) by the elders. Slim Girl is not accepted by her own people nor by the whites, as symbolized in the solitary location of her home, outside of 'town' and not within a tribal community. As Red Man tells Wounded Face:
'...She lives alone, she does no work, she is rich. The Americans make her rich, for badness. She is two faces and two tongues. You see her clothes and her skin, and hear her voice, but all the rest inside is American badness. I know. Hear me, I know.'  (45)
She is no longer trusted nor considered "acceptable" by 'her people' because she was one of those kidnapped children educated by whites, nor do the whites accept her as one of them, except to do their bidding. Although she realizes she thinks differently from her own biological/blood relatives and the Native American community, she wishes to learn the required skills to become one of them as an adult, though she is willing to continue her relationships with certain whites in town as a way to earn money faster so she and Laughing Boy can become "successful" in the eyes of the tribal and familial elders. She perseveres to become an excellent weaver of tapestries, a skill highly valued among females within her own Native American community. I could appreciate her initial errors and her determination to practice until she excelled. Although...

Slim Girl is what I would term "a conniving bitch." While I recognized her overwhelming feeling of displacement and "need to belong," I found it difficult to forgive her lies and manipulation of Laughing Boy to accomplish her own goals, no matter how much she felt she was treating him right, all her actions were, in the end, all about her. One aspect of this was her insistence upon regulating his consumption of alcohol by allowing him only one drink per night that she exclusively mixed for him. It was almost as if he believed she put him 'under a spell' with this drink. Laughing Boy had never tasted whisky before and she was able to control him with this imbibing ritual each evening. 
  Before supper there was the well-mixed drink again, with its attendant elation and the curious feeling at the back of his teeth. He finished the brew.
  'I should like to take some more of that.'
  'That is not a good thing to do.'
  'Why not?'
  'If you take too much you become foolish. You grow old before your time.'
  'That would not be good. Perhaps it would be better not to take any. You do not take it.
  'It is not every one who is able to drink it...If I take it, it makes me sick quickly. It is all right for you, you are strong. It just makes you feel well, doesn't it? You like it, I think?'
  'Yes, I like it. It is good for me.'
  'It is good for you.' And she told herself, 'I shall tie you with it. It is another hobble around your feet, so that you will not go away from me.' (72)   
Despite all this manipulation and control, Slim Girl did provide him with a secure base and selling markets in which to hone his skills as a silversmith/jeweler and establish a thriving business. As a couple they became very "successful" (financially/economically) in the eyes of the tribal and familial elders. But her underlying self-serving motives and actions were troublesome to me, to say the least. Slim Girl exemplified conflicting feelings of self-doubt throughout, but her overall goal was clear.
...she was jealous of his people, of something they had in common which she could not share. (88)
I must mould and guide this War God I have made. I must not let him get away from me. None of the bad things must happen; I must make no mistakes. I am not a Navajo, nor am I an American, but the Navajos are my people. (40)
Her dream is to finally reunite with her people as the accepted and respectable wife of Laughing Boy, moving to and living within the Navajo community as a successful couple. 

We learn of the vigilante 'law' followed by the Navajo, as demonstrated by Laughing Boy's recovery of a pony.
...she must take him in hand.
  'What have you done? American Chief will put you in jail.'
  'No, it is all right. That man--he gestured toward the butte--'I did not hurt him much; besides, he is a Pah-Ute. He took this horse from my brother last year. He is bad, that one....He was a bad shot, look.'
  He showed her proudly a long, shallow scratch on his forearm.'  
  'And the belt?' She pointed to the silver at his waist. 
  'I do not know form whom he stole that. It is a pretty good belt.'
  They laughed together. (47)
Admittedly, I was shocked after reading this passage! How could Laughing Boy know the belt didn't rightfully belong to that man? And he not only 'recovered' this pony, but also stole the man's pony on which he was riding! And the discrimination! Laughing Boy's actions were justified because this man belonged to a different tribe, Pah-Ute; he was not Navajo. Oh, my... 

I was reminded of Fates and Furies and A Circle of Wives--
each of us only 'knows' what our partner 
chooses to share of themselves with us. 

A 'coincidence' reveals more about Slim Girl's life in town and Laughing Boy uses this same vigilante law to invoke punishment. However, it is another who finally disrupts their relationship... 
The original cover image to the right depicts the final scene.
'In beauty it is finished, in beauty it is finished, in beauty it is finished. Thanks.'  (189)

This was a rather intense read and I'm glad to have read it. 
I can see why it would be considered "an incentive to excellence," 
as Joseph Pulitzer required the award recipients should be. For me, I believe it was important to recognize this as a depiction of the damage caused by whites kidnapping and re-educating indigenous children. I consider this book to be an indictment against not only the past, but also a warning against any one group of humans ever repeating such egregious actions against any other group of humans.
(Though as we now know, Hitler's insanity and World War II were in the near future...)

Though I am no fan of graphic novels, Julianne of Outlandish Lit reviewed Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection edited by Hope Nicholson not long after I completed reading this book and I admit to being curious enough to actually check this out from the library and try it. If nothing else, it should make for a good compare/contrast with this novel. 

Have you read this or any similar book(s)?
Can an "observer" accurately depict the lives of those "observed"/studied?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A frame-up that almost worked!

First Degree by David Rosenfelt
Image result for first degree david rosenfelt cover imageThis was a rather tough case as everything had been very carefully planned to 'perfectly' frame Andy Carpenter's 
love interest and investigator, Laurie Collins.
Andy is sharing "opening day" with his golden retriever, well, really, THE BEST golden retriever in the world, Tara. 
Though this opening day has nothing to do with baseball, 
as he had shared with his father, who had also shared the same 
with his father, Andy's grandfather. 
Nope! This "opening day" refered to that of 
Paterson, New Jersey's first-ever dog park.

I've never actually been to a dogpark; I'm not even sure what one is. Tara hasn't been to one either, unless it was during the first two years of her life, before I knew her. If she has, I suspect the experience was less than thrilling, since I told her yesterday that we'd be going, and she was not awake all night in eager anticipation. (2)
Yes, this made me laugh! I love the bits of humor Rosenfelt throws in every now and then!
That is followed by the scene at the dogpark where he has about 20 women all huddled around him to hear about his last and well-known win in court as well as how he rescued Tara. All is well. He believes "the group attitude quickly moves toward hero worship" until...
David Rosenfelt's About Page  As Laurie comes closer, I can see that she doesn't only look good, she looks intense. She doesn't even lean over to pat Tara, an uncharacteristic oversight which surprises me and positively shocks Tara. Laurie comes right over to me, and my devoted fans part slightly and grudgingly to let her through. 
  "Alex Dorsey is dead," she says.
  "What?" It's a reflect question. I wasn't asking to get more information in the moment, but that's exactly what I get. 
  " Somebody decapitated him, then poured gasoline on his body and set it on fire." 
  If you ever want to get rid of twenty adoring women, I know a line you can use. My fans leave so fast...Based on the gleam in Laurie's eye, that's exactly what she expected. (5)
Ha! Ha! Laurie is no fool! :)

Andy and Laura complete a competitive Scrabble game in which she plays "klept" and the dictionary usually kept in the game box seems to be missing when Andy wishes to check "klept"... :) (Evidently Laurie is quite competitive! And determined to win!) She wins by 67 points.
That's the bad news. The good news is it means we can go to bed, and bed with Laurie is better than Scrabble with anybody. Though I'm speaking from a rather limited database...
  I wake up at six-thirty in the morning and turn on the television to the local news. Laurie is still sleeping, but the sound doesn't wake her. The sound of an enormous asteroid hitting Hackensack wouldn't wake her. (32)
I'm sure my husband would say the same of me! I can sleep...boy, can I sleep! :)

In speaking of a "wanna-be" client:
It's a DUI case, which resulted in a near-fatal injury to a pedestrian. The potential client, when he came to see me, had the smell of liquor on his breath. The decision to pass on the case was not a close call. (19)
Yeah, I guess that's kinda a no-brainer!
Then there's another potential client:
  There's no doubt Edna thinks he's got something going for him. She has put down her crossword puzzle and has already gotten him a cup of coffee. For Edna that qualifies as undying devotion. (23)
It is rare that Edna, Andy's 'secretary,' ever allows anything, including him at times, to disrupt her completion of a crossword puzzle! She is a "crossword queen"! 
In the above-mentioned decapitated and burned corpse, a suspect has been arrested. His prints were all over the warehouse where the body was found. he so eloquently puts it, "Prints don'g mean no damn shit anyway."
  "Write that line down. I'll want to use it in my closing argument."
  He doesn't respond; there may be no bigger waste of time than using sarcasm on someone who has absolutely no understanding of it. (52)
Some of these clients are real winners, are they not? And have you ever been in a situation where you realize any and all sarcasm is lost upon the people with whom you are speaking? I have (since I tend to be a 'sarcasm queen') and it is a rather strange feeling! Admittedly, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. :)

In discussing the eating habits of his co-counsel Kevin and Vince, one of his buddies who runs a local newspaper:
The main eating difference between Kevin and Vince Sanders is that Vince overeats only fattening, unhealthful food. Kevin will eat anything: put a barrel of wheat germ in front of him and he'll inhale it. (76)
Perhaps the humor of this statement was pertinent to me because there was a time when I was slipping wheat germ into almost everything and anything I cooked. My kids were small and I wanted all the healthy stuff in every dish served that I could possibly squeeze/sneak in! I took a large bowl of macaroni salad to a gathering once and someone asked what the brown specks were in the salad I'd brought. Once I'd replied, she passed right by it, stating "Oh, I don't want a germ!" I tried to explain...but it was futile. :) Or had to learn to be trickier or just lie. :)

And poor Edna...
  Kevin and I are alone; Edna isn't in yet. We could have met at ten and we'd still be alone. Since Edna doesn't do any actual work, she doesn't see the need to put in long hours. There's an irrefutable logic to that which I have given up trying to refute. (76)
Although when push comes to shove and they need help, Edna proves she can and will pitch in and do her part! 

There are plenty more twists and turns in this plot, and some real tension regarding Laurie's arrest, trial, and the verdict. I found this second installment to be more tense than the first. 

I love this series!
Do you have a series you just truly enjoy?

Reading these is just pure relaxation.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nourishing our souls is so very matter what our age!

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Our Souls at Night by Kent HarufI am so sad Kent Haruf will not be 
writing or publishing any more books! 
The only good news is that he published other 
books which I can also read!
I loved this book just as much as I thought I would, perhaps even more!
I can see myself behaving just as Addie did...
if I was in that same situation.
And I'm glad for that! 
Glad that I wouldn't just accept my life of one 
but would be happy to ignore "convention" 
to make myself and someone else happier.
This only makes good sense, in my opinion!
And you don't HAVE to sign a piece of paper and
'legalize' a relationship!
You can, if you wish, but it is not 
a requirement, in my opinion. 

Sometimes a cover 'fits' so well with a book that I just have to comment on it, and I feel that way about this cover. When I first saw it, I thought to myself that it was a bit strange to show only one side of a bed. But now that I've read the book, I get it. Good job, Carol Devine Carson! :)

"...not sex. I'm not looking at it that way...I'm talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably. Lying down in bed together and you staying the night. The nights are the worse. Don't you think?
  Yes, I think so. (5) dark he went out the back door and walked up the back alley carrying a paper sack with his pajamas and toothbrush inside. (7)
And so began Addie and Louis's partnership to comfort each other during the loneliest hours. It worked beautifully! Though they were both understandably hesitant in the very beginning...but why not venture out and break some new ground, so to speak! 

On the first "companionable" night,
I'll come by the front door next time. If there is a next time.
  Don't you think there will be? she said...Don't you have any faith? she said.
  In you, I do. I can have faith in you. I see that already. But I'm not sure I can be equal to you.
  What are you talking about? How do you mean that?
  In courage, he said. Willingness to risk. 
  Yes, but you're here.
  That's right, I am. (9)
Addie elaborates on the fact that she is not going to worry about what others think or run her life according to their rules any longer. I so totally agree with her! I've survived almost 60 years. Just stand back. I'm comin' through and I intend to do as I damn well please, at least as much as possible! :) Personally, I think Addie is brilliant! Just think how much happier elderly people would be with companionship during the loneliest most challenging hours to get through--nighttime. 

Addie's grandson, Jamie, comes to spend the summer with her, since his mother has moved out and his parents are now separated. Jamie's father, Gene, is Addie's son. All this when the child isn't even six years old...such stress and change for him. I despised his father for just dumping his son on his mother to care for the whole summer long, though Gene was none to emotionally healthy himself and his business had decreased drastically, so it is always easy to judge others when you are not in their shoes.(Sorry, Gene!) Addie quickly includes Louis in their everyday life and this proves to be a healing relationship for her grandson. It is so very sweet how they work to not only calm Jamie at night, but entertain him during the day. It strikes me that nighttime can be the most challenging time to get through for many of us--those who are older and alone, as well as those who are young and dealing with change...Jamie would awaken each night, crying, sometimes worse, and the first night Louis stays following Jamie's arrival, he carries him into Addie's bed.
  Louis took the boy's hand and held it and the three of them lay together in the dark. 
  Good old dark, Louis said. All comfortable and good, nothing to worry anybody, nothing to be afraid of. He began to sing very softly. He had a good tenor voice. He sang "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah" and "Down in the Valley." The boy relaxed and went to sleep. 
  Addie said, I've never heard you sing before. 
  I used to sing to Holly.
  You've never sung for me. 
  I didn't want to scare you away. Or have you send me away.
  That was nice, she said. Sometimes you're a pretty nice man.
  I suppose we're going to stay like this, divided all night. 
  I'll think good thoughts across to you.
  Don't make them too racy. It might disturb my rest. 
  You never know. (77)
Awwww...this just struck me as so very sincere! I love both Louis and Addie. They are both learning about each other and sharing about their lives and experiences, just as any two people getting to know each other better do! And the way they care for Jamie! 

Addie talks with Louis about how she recognizes that Gene is repeating the same mistakes his own father made with him, in his relationship with his own son, Jaime.
  You can't fix things, can you, Louis said.
  We always want to. But we can't. (144)
It is so true that as parents (and grandparents) we want to "fix" everything for our children/grandchildren, but then they would lose the opportunity to learn and adjust appropriately, and that wouldn't, in the end, "fix" anything! 

As Louis states,
I just want to live simply and pay attention to what's happening each day. And come sleep with you at night.
  Well, that's what we're doing. Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we'd still have something like this. That it turns out we're not finished with changes and excitement. And not all dried up in body and spirit. (147)
Nor should you be! :) No matter what your age!

In the end, I hated Gene for his selfishness and self-righteousness. He took something from Addie that couldn't be replaced, and although I can sympathize with this grief, guilt, and remorse from his own childhood losses, I cannot justify what he does to Addie, his own mother. I sincerely hope none of my three sons would treat me similarly, but you never know...

Addie's comment about life, love, relationships:
Who does ever get what they want? 
It doesn't seem to happen to many of us if any at all. 
It's always two people bumping against each other blindly, 
acting out of old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings. (130)
I would like to think many of us get more than that from our life, but perhaps not...
I feel as if I have been very lucky in my relationships. 
Have they all been perfect? Of course not...
they involved humans who are, by definition, imperfect! :)
But if you pay attention, there is always something positive to be gained from most any relationship--if you "pay attention to what's happening each day"--live in the NOW!

Oh, if you haven't read this book, please do!
It reads very very quickly. I read it in one evening after work and I'm not a "fast" reader.
I don't believe you need to be "older" to truly enjoy this book,
in fact you may benefit even more if you are younger,
because you should glean a lesson on how NOT to treat your aging parent(s)! :)
I will read more of Haruf's work! (Provided I live long enough...)