Monthly Archives: May 2008

Books Read in 2008, Part Two

Here are the books I have read so far in 2008, part two. There are too many to present in one post, so I’m breaking them up a bit. Sorry my reviews aren’t as detailed as usual, but I figured no one would read this post if it became that long!!

There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

21 Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez ©2007 –☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. American beautician relocates to Afghanistan to help locals women open a salon. Deals with all kinds of cultural issues, including mainly those of gender and the struggles (and sense of humor) of Afghani women.

22 & 23 Chasing Eden and Beyond Eden by S.L. Linnea ©2006 & 7 –☻☻☻☻ American soldier in Iraq becomes involved with a group of advanced humans who inhabit a utopian plane separate from ours.

24 Courageous Souls by Robert Schwartz ©2006 –☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Speculations regarding the concept of humans choosing the lessons they want to learn in their lifetimes before birth, thus selecting their basic circumstances in life.

25 The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith ©2007 –☻☻☻☻☻ 8th installment of my favorite series “The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency” which revolves around a Botswana woman who runs this agency, her family, and the colorful characters encountered in the mysteries she solves. Highly recommended series!

26 The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner ©2008 –☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Author visits countries who rate highest and lowest on the “Happiness Survey” and writes about his observations of the people and their environments.

27 Temples on the Other Side by Sylvia Browne ©2008 ☻☻☻ “Non-fiction.” Interesting ideas about the afterlife. I guess we’ll all find out how true they are once we get there.

28 Little Chapel on the River by Gwendolyn Bounds ©2005 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. After her home is damaged in 911, a woman and her life partner relocate to Garrison, New York, a small town on the Hudson River. She becomes totally engrossed with the locals, especially those who run a family tavern, and all the colorful characters who hang out at the bar.

29 Do Dead People Watch You Shower? By Concetta Bertoldi ©2008 ☻☻ “Non-fiction.” More speculations on the afterlife. Not my cup of tea.

30 The Mind of the Soul by Gary Zukav ©2003 ☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. As usual, more soul-soothing observations by the mellow and personable Zukav.

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Books

Accidental Photos

Every once in awhile after a photo-taking spree, I will find unexpected pictures on my camera. These photos occur while the camera is turned on between taking actual photos, and I’m either holding the camera idle, gesturing with my camera hand, but not intentionally taking a photo. I think my camera has a “trigger happy” release button! I was going to delete them, but I think they are interesting and rather surreal. I wish I had a few more to share, but I suspect I’ll have plenty more in the future!

1 Comment

Filed under Photography

Books Read in 2008, Part One

I took a long blogging vacation, and therefore have not posted my book reviews in awhile. I’ve been busy reading, so here are the books I have read so far in 2008, part one. There are too many to present in one post, so I’m breaking them up a bit. Sorry my reviews aren’t as detailed as usual, but I figured no one would read this post if it became that long!!

There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

1 The Deadliest Strain by Jan Coffey ©2008 –☻☻☻ A supermicrobe is found to be the cause of sudden, unexplained deaths—marked by rapid decomposition— which are cropping up across the U.S.

2 The Girls by Lori Lansens ©2005 –☻☻☻☻☻ Touching fiction about Siamese twin sisters and their struggles and triumphs. Wonderful!

3 This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes ©2006 –☻☻☻☻ Journey from isolation to connection for a Los Angeles dweller.

4 Earthbound by Richard Matheson ©1999 –☻☻☻☻ Couple go on a second honeymoon and find the cottage they are staying in is haunted by the ghost of a dangerous woman.

5 A Border Passage by Leila Ahmed ©1999 –☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction memoir written by an Egyptian woman regarding her youth and formative years in 1940’s and 50’s Cairo and of her eventual immigration to the United States where she is now a Professor of Women’s Studies at Amherst.

6 The Anxiety of Everyday Objects by Aurelie Sheehan ©2004- ☻☻☻ Kind of like“The Devil Wears Prada” in a law firm rather than the fashion industry.

7 Significant Others by Armistead Maupin – ©1987 ☻☻☻☻☻ Part 5 of the “Tales of the City” series, about a diverse group of people living in San Francisco.

8 Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsey ©2007 –☻☻☻☻ Further adventures of Dexter Morgan: blood spatter expert for the police by day and serial killer by night. He only kills other serial killers and abides by a strict internal code. Although a sociopath, he maintains relationships with a foster sister, and a girlfriend and her children.

9 Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – ©2001 ☻☻☻☻☻ I loved this book about hostages and their captors. I have heard others say they don’t like the “Stockholm Syndrome” displayed by the hostages, but I think it’s a tribute to what happens when people try to understand each other’s situations and ease them.

10 What the Bleep Do We Know? by Arntz, Chasse, & Vicente – ©2005 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. How quantum physics and spirituality mesh.

11 The Second Assistant by Clare Naylor & Mimi Hare – ©2004 ☻☻☻ Chick lit about a woman on the bottom rung of the Hollywood ladder and dealing with the whims of the rich.

12 Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy – ©2006 ☻☻☻☻ The townsfolk of the Irish town of Rossmore have differing opinions about a new highway coming through their town because an ancient shrine would have to be destroyed. Many well-described characters that you come to care about.

13 Reunions by Raymond Moody, MD – ©1993 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Doctor studies death and the afterlife and researches how the living can communicate with the dead.

14 The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie Farrell– © ☻☻ Unlikeable story of family secrets and betrayal. Yawn.

15 Trace Evidence by Elizabeth Becka – ©2005 ☻☻☻☻ Female forensic scientist solves murder cases.

16 What Happened to Henry by Sharon Pywell– ©2004 ☻☻☻☻☻ A weird puppy of a book, but very likeable. Story of strong sibling bonds and how they handle the strange phenomenon that the oldest child is involved in. To say more would ruin it.

17 The Lens of Perception by Hal Zina Bennett – ©2007 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. An analysis of how individuals may experience the same events, but interpret them differently mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and how these interpretations can affect their lives negatively or positively.

18 Falling by Christopher Pike– ©2007 ☻☻☻☻Kind of like “Silence of the Lambs” – FBI agent solves puzzle of acid-throwing individual who targets women whom he thinks have been unfaithful. Lots of twists and turns.

19 Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling by Wayne Dyer– ©2006 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Thinking positively and manifesting what you want.

20 Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass – ©2007 ☻☻☻☻ Grisly and grimy details (interesting, however) abound in this fictional novel about forensic scientists and the Body Farm, a real-life facility in Tennessee that studies human decomposition in its various forms and circumstances.

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

1 Comment

Filed under Books

Thank You, Shirley

I have been rather ill for about a month or so. I changed into “The Lone Wolf” which I tend to do when I’m sick – that is I go off by myself to “lick my wounds”, try to gather my energy, and heal while becoming a hermit in the process.

My dear friend Shirley was very concerned about me. She called me, sent me emails, and sent me healing energy to help me feel better. She understands my lone wolf proclivities and checks up on me once in awhile to make sure I’m still drawing breath.

This last bout of illness lasted a long time. I had been very depressed and had horrible headaches and digestive problems and just felt like crap. I am a huge reader, and it took effort for me to even pick up a book at times – that’s how you know I really feel bad.

So yesterday I woke up and there was some kind of framed object covered with a blanket sitting in our TV room. I had no idea what it could be…I uncovered it…and it was a piece of artwork my friend Shirley had created many years ago! It is an “Articulator”- Shirley innovated new materials and techniques inspired by an ancient art form to create these works of art. She calls them “Articulators” because the canvas is “articulated” – it has regular fan-like folds in it which allow her to paint one scene on one side of the fold, and another on the other side. As a result, when you look at the picture from the left you see one scene; as you move to the right of the picture it dissolves into a different scene. These works of art are a labor of love and can take many weeks to complete.

She had given it to us to cheer me up after all these weeks of illness! It certainly did that!!

So I was blessed with the gift of this Articulator, entitled “The Spirit of Life Dancing in the Winds of Change”. It has pride of place on my wall to all who enter the house. I love this painting because I have always been a lover of trees (yes, I am the original “tree hugger”). Trees are such an ancient form of life and I believe they are part of an overall Earth consciousness…as of course are we. The tree that becomes the Spirit of Life Dancing reflects, to me, that we all come from the same Source, all is made of energy dancing through its many configurations. As the leaves of the trees dance and bend to the winds of life, so we too adapt and change our dance.

The tree view

Walk to the right of the art and you see…

The Spirit of Life view

Note: The lighting conditions caused by flash photography do not highlight the full beauty of the work.

Isn’t it beautiful? Giving me this artwork was truly an act of spirituality by Shirley. She knew how much I liked this piece, it was hanging in her home and several months ago I had asked her rather sheepishly if she would leave it to me in her will. And now…here it is on my wall. To create such a beautiful thing and to able to detach from it and give it away for someone else to enjoy is a rare act in today’s world. I am so lucky to have a friend like Shirley.

I love you, Shirley. Thanks for the art and also for sticking by me and checking up on me when I’m ill. You and I are soulmates.

Here you can see how the two images are interconnected.

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Friendship, Life, Spirituality

Gloves are Better

photo by steeleman2004

My neighbor Bill likes to take his black Labrador Retriever Bear for a walk around the neighborhood every night.

On a particularly chilly evening a few months ago, we drove on the street past him while he was walking Bear. Being the good citizen that he is, Bill always cleans up after Bear by scooping up the poop in an inside-out plastic grocery bag, then turning in rightside-out before throwing it away. On this occasion, Bill had in his hand a plastic bag containing the dog poop that Bear had previously deposited on the ground. We stopped the car to say hello and teased him about the contents of the bag he was holding.

“How can you stand picking that up and holding it in your hands?” I asked. I’ve never had a dog and poop pickup is one reason why.

“Well, it makes a great handwarmer” said neighbor Bill.

**photo by reusablebags ********photos of Cinder by Steeleman2004********

1 Comment

Filed under dogs, Humor, Life

Beautiful Laguna Beach

A few weeks ago my friends and I took a little drive to Laguna Beach for lunch. It was a hot, beautiful sunny California day and after a scrumptious lunch at Las Brisas, a restaurant overlooking the beach, we took a walk in the cliffs above the beach. Here is a video to inspire you to head for the water!

2 Comments

Filed under Life, Musings, Travel, Video

In the service of…?

My nephew just signed up for the army. He’s almost 18 and I personally was in shock that a young person would join the service at this point in our history.

Why would someone with his whole life ahead of him join a combat-weary army?

I asked him why, and he explained that this was the only way he was going to be able to afford going to college one day. And also to be of service to his country.

But seeing the plight of veterans and returning soldiers, I can’t see how anyone can expect to receive any gains from this experience. I can only hope that he will be able to learn a skill in the army that will enable him to support himself in later life.

I am usually an optimist, but this situation has me turned around.

3 Comments

Filed under Life, Musings