Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015 - Disillusionment

Kara Tippets died yesterday.  I didn't know until I saw a post on FB earlier this evening and read yesterday's blog posting:

Kara talked about faith in the light of hardship...her hardship was that she was dying from breast cancer...36 years old, 4 young children, and a loving husband. 

And she died.

How in the world do I DARE feel disillusioned?

How weak am I to let the world disillusion me...when this woman, even with death apparent, did not.  

I keep reminding myself...over and over...that the work we do in this world is not for the people of this world.

People will push you down, shove you out of the way, call your crusade folly, fight you in every direction, follow when they should lead, lead when they should follow.  

People will spite you, compete with you, covet what is yours, and kick you when you're down. 

But this life isn't about people.
It's about the unconditional love of a heavenly father...who waits for us...patiently forgives us...again and again and again...
It's about one day joining that heavenly father in peace.

A peace that knows no pain, no sorrow...only joy, health, and love.

That's what this life is all about. 

Thank-you, Kara, for giving me one small tidbit of your strength through your writing, honesty, and pure heart.  

My prayers are with Kara's family as they grieve the loss of this extraordinary woman.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

TLC Book Review - The Heroes' Welcome

The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young

• Paperback: 272 pages
• Publisher:
 Harper Perennial (March 10, 2015)

Golden Lines

He was quite aware that not many people thought he'd add up to much, poor fellow.  But if he learnt anything from being shot to bits and patched up again, it was this: now is a good time to do what you want.  (4)

Certainly, no one was "going back" to anything.  They weren't mourning some pre-war Utopia, the golden years before the Titanic sank and Captain Scott died on they ice and the Empire and Ireland started to bite back.  For Riley and for Nadine, looking back would involve unbearable regret about what might have been.  Unbearable.  So there was nothing to go back to.
And the war was still over. (22)

But - bad husband - I failed to protect her from this bizarre idiocy of her own.  Just as I failed - bad soldier - to protect my men.  Both at home and at the Front, I failed. (33)

Rose read it carefully.  A woman - Lady Ampthill - was writing to her, a woman, offering money, training and support.  She read the final sentence three times: the words leader, important, best, work, and womanhood in the same sentence. (40-41)

Is it my pride and nothing else, to want to stand around with the men, with my notes and my professional judgement, and have other people act on my instructions, when my family needs me here? (45)

And finally she said: Go to sleep, Rose.  It's not your fault.  He's not your husband.  She's not your wife.  He's not your son. (45)

He was quite certain that Riley had things he wasn't saying either.  They were both able to take a bit of comfort from leaving it at that. (53).

Nadine was irritated at her own sorrow.  The previous year, while still in the extremes of the peculiar emotional landscape where the war had dumped her, she had decided that she would never again be upset by anything that wasn't concretely and immediately offensive to her.  Her peace of mind was precious; she would value it.  She would not let it be upended by a late bus or an uninterested mother.  If there was something to be done about a problem, then it must be done.  If there was nothing to be done, then you might as well shut up about it.  That's all. (173)

"My dear!" Julia cried, but Nadine was sobbing, at how these men of theirs had been chained to death, how death had held them in its cloud for years on end, throwing itself at them from every side, and at their companions, drenching them, beating them up, threatening them, battering them, torturing them, talking their friends, taking them - but only so far, then throwing them back, or just taking part of them - their sanity, or their capacity to breathe, their leg, their arm, their face, their speech - laughing at them... (180).

After standing at the French windows for half an hour, starting at him, Nadine had a realization.  Julia's words came back to her: none of us can do this on our own. (202)

Riley went out, thinking of corpses tipped into ditches, lost in mud, bursting from the sides of trenches, never seen again.  How were they, out there, the dead boys?  Would any of their poor bodies  ever come home and be honored? (210)

I suppose it's rather ridiculous how we all sort of thought that after the war was over people would stop dying, and we could - tidy ourselves up again. (220)

Be grateful.  Be grateful, every day, that love is strong, and nothing worse is happening (223)

You won the war, now you got to win the peace (227)

Time passed.  It had no choice.  (233)

"I know a bit of the Odyssey, sir.  I read it because of you.  Not in Greek.  But I read it - like Julia did, because of you.  You know where it says we're worn-out husks, with dry haggard spirits always brooding over our wanderings, our hearts never lifting with any joy, because we've suffered too much.  You remember that bit, sir?"
"Yes," said Peter. "It's what Circe told him."
"Yes, and she was fucking right, sir," Riley said. (254)

What I Liked

Riley and Nadine - this was an honest couple, I think.  All their romance was in the past...they were determined to make hold each other up.  Somehow.  Their love was deep and lasting.  Unconditional.  It felt true to me.

Nadine - she pretty much told Rose how it was...suck it up girl.  Quit feeling sorry for yourself and go on with your life.

Peter and Julia - these two left me speechless...the tragedy...the rightness.  If the author could have worked their relationship out, whether together or separate, I don't think that would have been right at all. I think Peter and Julia are the very point of this story.  Sometimes life gets torn to shreds, and as hard as you might try, there is not a damn thing you can do about it.  There are way too many war-stories that make it seem like gallant heroics...the blood, the guts, those left behind are pushed behind the curtain.  It shouldn't be.  This is war.  This is life.  And, these are the consequences of war on human life. Period.

Julia - I haven't read other reviews, but I'm guessing she will be the character that most others dislike. Not me.  I loved her.  From beginning to end.  When I felt she should leave Peter, when I felt she'd lost her mind, when I questioned her maternal abilities, when she gave me hope, and in the end.  I loved this character.

Peter is the tragedy of this story to me.  I didn't get mad at him.  I didn't get frustrated with him.  His pain was real and he dealt with it in the best unconscious way that he could.  He didn't plan anything; he didn't sit around thinking about it.  His grief and shock were his disease.  Plain and simple.
And there is no nicely wrapped up ending.

The cover photo...and the story behind it:

There's a magazine called Tatler, which has been published in London since 1901. It's a kind of society mag; pictures of parties and big houses and the English aristocracy. In the old days, each edition used to include a full-page soft-focus black-and-white photographic portrait of a nice young posh girl wearing her grandmother's pearls and a misty look, accompanied by the announcement of her engagement to a nice young posh man. It was a way for the upper classes to keep up with each other’s movements.
In November 1919, this engagement-portrait page showed something else. November 11 was the first anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War. Europe - and the US - was full of widows, and of girls whose fiancés were dead. So, as a mark of tenderness, and an acknowledgment of the ferocious loss so many people were living with the magazine put in that slot this photograph, taken by a photographer called Hugh Cecil. Its title is Grief. If you look carefully, you can see that this grieving woman is wearing an engagement ring on the fourth finger of her right hand: where, traditionally, widows would wear their wedding rings.

What I Didn't Like

Rose - I feel guilty about this...I really do.  But, I didn't like her.  Without giving anything away really, she gave up too easily.  She felt whiny to me and pined away for a life that wasn't hers.  It almost felt like to me that she was pretending to want to be more...when really all she'd rather do is be married to someone else's husband and raise someone else's children.  I'm sure I'm not being fair to her, but I just can't shake it.

The Author

Louisa Young



Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, March 10th: Tina Says …
Wednesday, March 11th: Giraffe Days
Thursday, March 12th: Open Book Society
Monday, March 16th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, March 17th: Read Her Like an Open Book
Wednesday, March 18th: A Book Geek
Thursday, March 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, March 23rd: Staircase Wit
Tuesday, March 24th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, March 25th: Mom in Love With Fiction
Monday, March 30th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015 - My new friend Lucy

Dear Lucy,

Why you eat my donut??

"What donut?" 

"All I saw was a chocolate covered twist, fresh from the local bakery, sitting right here in the front seat."  
"But I didn't eat it"


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Migratory Animals - TLC Book Review

Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht

• Print Length: 320 pages

• Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 20, 2015)

Summary (from TLC Book Tours)

When Flannery, a young scientist, is forced to return to Austin after five years of research in Nigeria, she becomes torn between her two homes. Having left behind her loving fiancé without knowing when she will return, Flannery learns that her sister, Molly, has begun to show signs of the genetic disease that slowly killed their mother.
As their close-knit circle of friends struggles with Molly’s diagnosis, Flannery must grapple with what her future will hold: love and the pursuit of scientific discovery in West Africa, or the pull of a life surrounded by old friends, the comfort of an old flame, family obligations, and the home she’s always known. But she is not the only one wrestling with uncertainty. Since their college days, all of her friends have faced unexpected challenges that make them reevaluate the lives they’d always planned for themselves.
A mesmerizing debut from an exciting young writer, Migratory Animals is a moving, thought-provoking novel, told from shifting viewpoints, about the meaning of home and what we owe each other—and ourselves.

The Author

Mary Helen Specht’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times and Colorado Review. A winner of the Richard Yates Short Story Award, among other prizes, she is a former Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow. She earned an MFA in fiction from Emerson College and now teaches creative writing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

Golden Lines

On the night before her flight, Kunle took her in search of fresh palm wine. (3)

Alyce closed her eyes. "And there are still boxes to unpack.  Food to buy.  Dishes to wash." Breaths to breathe, she thought.  "Have you noticed how we buy food and then eat it, and then have to buy more." (13)

Their parents never told Molly to be a tough cookie.  They indulged and protected her and stroked her hair at night because they already knew. (39)

And so she started. (58)

Molly was dying, and it seemed she was the last to know. (81)

"I hear another white person convinced they're going to save Africa from itself." (189)

The two women looked at each other.  Nothing shocked Alyce anymore.  She sipped and then nodded. (172)

Alyce felt guilty standing there in the water, holding the hand of her best friend's sister as if she were about to baptize her in the creek.  Who had betrayed whom?  How was this supposed to go?  Red Rover, Red Rover, why don't you come over? (248)

I choose my family from now on. (259)

"You will be brave.  You will be lucky.  You will be loved.  You will feel joy." (288)

What I Liked

Flannery - I liked Flannery's independence.  She was almost independent in what some would say was selfish...but isn't that at least in part of what independence is?

Specht's narrative description of Alyce's severe on.

The irony of Alyce's tapestry...made to give her sons something to remember her by...but a healing journey in the end.

A glimpse into Nigerian geography, culture, and history.

The strength in both Molly and Alyce that blooms when they are together.

Kunle - he was the only male character that I liked...I especially appreciated the way he called BS on Flannery if it needed to be called.  Their relationship seemed real.

What I Didn't Like

Molly's parents...seriously?  Who makes that kind of decision?  And Brandon?  How do you keep that kind of info from someone?  Parents maybe...but a husband?

Most of the male characters...I don't know; they just seemed sortof weak.  Is it not possible to have strong female characters and male characters at the same time? Does one have to be weak so the other can be strong?  Santiago was my least favorite.

The End - I felt like Migratory Birds just stopped.  Just ended.  I've never been one for nicely wrapped packages, but gracious, there was so much more to be said.

The technicality of Flan and Brandon's research.  The content was so out of my area that I found myself having to skim some of science.  I just couldn't follow.

The huge jump in time from Molly's pregnancy to the baby's birth...everything had been so detailed up to that point.

Flan's fantasy at the end.  ??

TLC Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 20th: Based on a True Story
Thursday, January 22nd: A Bookish Affair
Friday, January 23rd: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, January 26th: Olduvai Reads
Tuesday, January 27th: Book Loving Hippo
Friday, January 30th: Read Her Like and Open Book
Monday, February 2nd: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, February 2nd: Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, February 3rd: Peppermint PhD
Wednesday, February 4th: Books and Things
Tuesday, February 10th: Tina Says …
Wednesday, February 11th: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, February 12th: Books and Bindings

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31, 2015 Mardi Gras Parade

Our community had its first Mardi Gras Parade today.

The shelter decided to create a float (not a big fancy one, mind you)...but one that would showcase our love for animals and our commitment to the community as well as a show of our stewardship with the community's resources.  

Parades are pretty complicated when you're a rescue organization.

Or, maybe I just over-analyze everything.


My amazing kid...who hangs out with me a lot dressed up as a Mardi Gras cat.
As you can imagine, the real cats in the shelter were in no way even considering riding a float.

Nothing doing.

I couldn't even get our resident office cat to wear some beads...or a mask...or anything for that matter.

My kid corralled some of her BFFs from school to dress up with her.

Here's our little crew of "pups" and "kitties."
This is a great bunch of kids by the way.

One of our other board members has a much younger daughter who wanted to dress up and ride the float as well.
My kid helped her with her make-up.
Have I mentioned I have a great kid?

Fee Fee was my co-pilot today on the float.  She's a little skittish, our Feefers, but she weathered the parade well.
We were going to walk behind the float...but those plans changed when the fire truck lined up behind us and a billion jillion people lined up along the sides of the streets...jumping out to get beads.  


These two had a special day out...but were glad to get back in the safety of my car and head back to their cots at the shelter and a good supper...completed with a special treat.  

They were such good girls.
Love my Lillie and Fee Fee :)