Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Frog Who Was Blue by Faiz Kermani

This lovely little book was written to support the World Medical Fund (WMF), a medical charity working in Africa, which focuses on the regions most vulnerable children. It is a simple story of Malawi, who comes from Lake Ticklewater, deep in the heart of Africa. All the frogs there, including Malawi are blue (which, of course, got "I'm in Love With a Big Blue Frog" running nonstop through my brain). However, when Malawi gets accepted to Croak College, he finds out that no other students are blue, just him. The green frogs tease him and shun him, and poor Malawi is broken hearted. But things happen, as they often do in stories like this, giving children a chance to be exposed to the message that being different is not necessarily a bad thing.

As a retired pediatric nurse, who worked with disabled children, this was a common occurrence for the children and families to get through. Kids who look different, have equipment to help them walk, talk, breathe, pee, eat, write, talk, can all be treated like blue frogs. It's not always an easy fix, and though this book is a nice beginning, I found myself remembering Digby Wolfe's poem, Kids who are Different.

Here’s to kids who are different,
Kids who don’t always get A's,
Kids who have ears
Twice the size of their peers,
And noses that go on for days.

Here’s to the kids who are different,
Kids they call crazy or dumb,
Kids who don’t fit,
With the guts and the grit,
Who dance to a different drum.

Here’s to the kids who are different,
Kids with a mischievous streak,
For when they have grown,
As history has shown,
It’s their difference that makes them unique.


Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the author for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pysanky

Some of the pysanky I have available still are listed here. If interested or desiring more information, please contact me (picture row and position of pysanka from the left would help). Thank you.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rejoice the Ides of March or The Bard Can be Wrong

Long story short, today is our wedding anniversary. Javaczuk and I were married 33 years ago, on the eastern shore of Maryland. We also were married 33 years, 4 days ago in Washington, DC. And if you want to get technical, we also were married 20 years ago in Charleston.  I told you, it's a long story.

The first was the family wedding, but for those long-story-short reasons, suffice it to say we needed to be married again to make it legal. So we were. On our honeymoon. 33 years ago today. With my mother and siblings present.

The third was actually in the Catholic Church-- the sacrament of marriage, 13 years after the original ceremony. Our son and my mother were our picks for best man and matron of honor, but since one was 7 and the other not a Christian, our pastor asked us to pick witnesses who were both adult and Catholic. So we did, but in my heart, I treasure my mother standing (well, sitting in her wheelchair) for me, and our son by his dad's side, as I wed my sweetheart, once again, though this time with the Church's blessing.

We were telling the story of our weddings to our daughter, and she decided we needed to renew our vows. After all, it had been over 20 years since we did so. It would be easy, she told us. She could perform the ceremony herself, since she is a Notary Public. So, with our daughter as officiant, and granddaughters as maid of honor and best girl, with me clutching my iPhone with a picture of flowers I'd drawn, with the man I gave my heart to all those years ago, she said the words, and we replied "sure, why not?" and "you bettcha". We sealed the deal, once again. He's stuck for good.

Life is nothing if not contradictory. The Ides of March isn't always a date to beware. And the Bard can be wrong. The course of True Love sometimes does run smooth, 33 years and counting.


Pictures below:

March 11, 1984 At the Calvert Collection, in Washington DC, because if you can get married in an antiques and art gallery, why wouldn't you? (We call this our fake-aversary, because the marriage wasn't legal)

March 15, 1984, St. Michael's, Maryland, by the courthouse, where we'd just gotten hitched by a judge. (That's my kin gathered round us.) This is the one we recognize as our true marriage date.

March 15, 1997 Cathedral of St John the Baptist, 2 pictures

March 11, 2017 South Carolina Lowcountry






Sunday, March 12, 2017

One Pan & Done: Hassle-Free Meals from the Oven to Your Table by Molly Gilbert

Two years ago, we moved into a new home where 3 out of 4 burners on our stove were kaput, and our oven unreliable. Though we're in the process of renovations now, I became an expert on one pot cooking, since essentially, I only had one working element with which to cook. This is a nice collection of full cooking, from breakfast through all mealtimes and on to dessert. The few recipes I've tried so far have been tasty, though some were a little bland for our tastes, but I'll follow my instincts when cooking them next to add some of our favorite spices to kick flavors up. All in all, a fine addition to the shelf.

Thank you to Blogging for books and to the publishers for sending me my copy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine

Warning: If you are approaching your "golden years", and/or you've lost someone you love who was elderly and had memory problems, and/or two of your biggest fears are that memory loss/illness will take your beloved before your or that you will lose all you love along with your own cognition/memory, don't read this book. Cathleen Schine is a skilled, fabulous writer, and she paints a picture that will rip across your heart, reviving all of your deepest fears, reawakening all of your darkest moments. This is not a book for the lighthearted. I can imagine that for those still in the light of health, having never lost someone they love, this could be the "hilarious novel" written about on the back cover. For me, all it made me want to do is curl up and cry. I can't rate it because I can't separate the excellent writing from the black despair of the emotions it evoked.

From the publisher:
From one of America’s greatest comic novelists, a hilarious new novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love

The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws, and same-sex spouses. But families don’t just grow, they grow old, and the clan’s matriarch, Joy, is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would have wished. When Joy’s beloved husband dies, Molly and Daniel have no shortage of solutions for their mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. And they didn’t count on Joy herself, a mother suddenly as willful and rebellious as their own kids.

The New York Times–bestselling author Cathleen Schine has been called “full of invention, wit, and wisdom that can bear comparison to [ Jane] Austen’s own” (The New York Review of Books), and she is at her best in this intensely human, profound, and honest novel about the intrusion of old age into the relationships of one loving but complicated family. They May Not Mean To, But They Do is a radiantly compassionate look at three generations, all coming of age together. (less)

Tags: 2017-read, an-author-i-read, at-least-the-writing-was-good, don-t-want-to-rate, everyone-else-liked-it, good-but-made-me-sad, great-title, made-me-sad, made-me-uncomfortable, places-i-have-been, read, thank-you-charleston-county-library

Friday, February 17, 2017

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Allegory, fairy tale, magical realism, historical novel-- Anna and the Swallow Man has a bit of it all. It certainly has the characters of an old European folk tale, not just simple good guys and bad guys but demons and shape changers. There's even the lovable fool. The story, set primarily in Poland in WWII, centers on Anna, a child of 7, whose father is taken away one day and never comes back. Though circumstance, Anna begins to travel with a person she names the Swallow Man. Their journey is one of survival, uncovering truths and illusions, falsehoods and fantasies. It is written in elegant, evocative prose, which leaves many aspects of the tale for the reader to imagine, but also filled a place in my reading heart I hadn't realized was vacant. Also notable are the wonderful chapter illustrations and cover art, done by Laura Carlin.
To be honest, I am not sure I was able to absorb all the author packed away in the pages, but this novel is one I am pretty sure I could again and find something new each time.

tags: 2017-read, awardwinner, first-novel-or-book, great-cover, magical-realism, read, still-trying-to-figure-this-one-ou, thank-you-charleston-county-library, translated, will-look-for-more-by-this-author, ya-lit

From the publisher: Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16, 2017 A Day Without Immigrants

The Family of Abraham and Ida Galler circa 1926
My grandparents each fled their homeland in a time of persecution. In America, they not only found a haven and new home, they found each other. Hardworking and with few means, but a lot of drive, they started an egg cart on the East Side of NYC (which is especially ironic since one of their granddaughters is a pysanky/egg artist) that they gave up in the summer of 1929 to move their growing family to the country in Brooklyn and live off the income of the stocks they'd invested in with their profits. Their timing might not have been good, and even though wealth alluded them, their goodness and generosity touched many souls. At my grandfather's funeral, the funeral of a simple shopkeeper and resale man, over 1,000 people came to pay respects. They gave thanks to his widow and children, telling of the many kindnesses he had done them in a time of need, a helping hand, a few dollars here, a meal there. His family was astonished at the number of people he'd helped in his short life. The story is that my grandmother finally got exasperated, exclaiming to her eldest daughter "A nickel here, a dollar there, a bowl of soup there, and all the time his children had to wear second hand clothes and have fried bread for breakfast! Could a little of that generosity have been spent at home instead of giving to others? Did he have to help everyone who asked?" To which her daughter replied, "But Mama, that's what you do. If anyone needs help, they come to you!"

From humble beginnings, they raised a family. Their descendants are dentists, scientists, businesswomen, real estate agents, entrepreneurs, podiatrists, chefs, physical therapists, builders, philanthropists, volunteer workers, scholars, renaissance men, musicians, educators, professors, nurses, researchers, artists, writers, homemakers, teachers, CPAs, administrators, lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, parents, grandparents, and citizens. (And that's only through their children and grandchildren. Great grands and great great grands are still finding their passions, and seeing where their talents take them.)

Today, February 16, 2017, is a day where many have encouraged immigrants, "foreign-born people nationwide, regardless of legal status, not to go to work or go shopping in a demonstration of the importance of their labor and consumer spending to the United States’ economy."*   This granddaughter of immigrants stands with immigrants.



*Rogers, Katie