ODDS AND ENDS


Hello!  I had taken time off from blogging since I was volunteering four mornings a week through United Way of the Coastal Bend for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.  My last day was April 18 (deadline for filing income taxes!) so I have stretched my hiatus a bit and just enjoyed reading other blogs without pressure to post something.  This first post is a rather jumbled collection of thoughts.

MANCHESTER ARENA
Sadly, another vile act unites us against the ineffable evilness of hate that inflicts death and harm upon the innocent.  Our hearts go out to those killed, injured and those left with the memory of a happy experience that turned dark.  In March of this year my son attended an Ariana Grande concert in California; a few years ago he attended a concert in Manchester.  Somehow it seemed very close to home as if it could happen to any of us.  Queen Elizabeth visited survivors in a hospital.  Click for a photo.

VITA EXPERIENCE
It was a rewarding experience to assist people of varied backgrounds – elderly, first time tax filers, couples, individuals, students and retirees.  We all have taxes in common as citizens.  Volunteer recognition was held at a local baseball game at Whataburger Field.

VOLUNTEERS FROM THE DIFFERENT VITA SITES WITH THE MASCOT OF THE HOOKS, THE LOCAL BASEBALL TEAM

BOOKS
Current book I am reading:
“Thunderstruck” by Erick Larson 

Last three books I have read:
“Catherine the Great” by Robert K. Massie 
“MY GRL” by John W. Howell   
“Just What I Always Wanted” by Nancy Roman 

Books on my list to read:
“Just Women Getting  By” by Linda Swain Bethea 
“A Cry from the Deep” by Diana Stevan 
Ice Ghosts” by Paul Watson 

FUTURE POSTS
My blog has never had a set schedule of posts but I did try for a time.  Perhaps if I imposed a schedule and deadlines on myself I would be more disinclined.  However, I do want to continue with a writing project so I will just see where it leads me.  Thanks to all of my readers and fellow bloggers for encouragement and support!

Below is a gargoyle with laptop that sits on a bookcase by my desk.  Perhaps he will serve as a muse.

PRINT OR E-BOOK?


As an old bibliophile I have clung to my paper pages, full bookcases and stacks of books scattered throughout the house.   I have no trouble reading magazine articles, news, blogs that I follow, newspapers and anything else I might come upon while surfing the Internet. But I want to read books in old-fashioned print.   Husband bought a Kindle and bragged about the books he could download anytime without having to order and wait until it is delivered or drive to find it at Barnes and Noble or Half-Price Books.

My beautiful picture

 

“Not me,” insisted, “I want to hold my books and turn the pages.”

“You can turn the pages on a Kindle.  The pages are numbered and you don’t even need a bookmark.  It remembers where you shut down and comes right back,” he insisted.

I collect bookmarks and have a basket full of them.  No, I would never want a Kindle or other reading device.

Husband continued to enjoy his Kindle so much that he upgraded to a new one.  He told me it was a really good deal.  I could have his old one if I wanted it.

“No, thanks,” I declined.

“Well, if you change your mind, let me know and I will set it up for you and even an Amazon account so you can buy books,” he remarked eagerly as he set it down on a stack of books by my nightstand.  I do most of my reading at night.

Some of the blogs I follow feature writers who have published their own books and are available in print and e-books.  Some are e-books only.  Was I missing out?  Perhaps.  So I decided to try just one or two e-books.  What could it hurt?  I wouldn’t be giving up print books.

The first e-book I bought was John W. Howell’s action thriller, “His Revenge.”  John lives along the same Texas coast as I do.  I like an action books occasionally and this book delivered action, a little sex and a hero, John Cannon, that we can all cheer for as he tries to say do his best for the United States.  John’s books can be found on Amazon in paper or e-book and you can follow him on his blog, Fiction Favorites, for daily fiction and fun.  He is working on the third book in this trilogy featuring John Cannon.his revenge

The second e-book I bought was a novelette by an author from the  western coast of Canada, Diana Stephen.  Her novella, “The Blue Nightgown,” caught my attention with its fifties-style pattern for a cover.  Set it is set in a Winnepeg, Canada boarding house in the 1950s, it reflects the mood of the time when men and women tried to remain within the boundaries of their roles and where sex was often hidden away in a bureau drawer. It is available in e-book only on Amazon.  Her latest novel, “A Cry from the Deep,”  is available on Amazon in e-book or paperback.   You can find out more about her on her blog, Diana Stevan.

blue nightdown

To my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading both of these books even though they were read on my Kindle.   Perhaps I had been a bit of a literary snob.   Reading was reading no matter what form  it has evolved into over time.  Now we have choices.  And isn’t the reading the important thing?  However, print books are still my first choice!

For now I will go back to a print book I have started, “Hitch-22, A  Memoir”,  by Christopher Hitchens, and perhaps fall asleep in bed and lose my place.

WOULD YOU TRAVEL WITH YOUR AUNT?


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Cover of “Travels With My Aunt,” by Graham Greene,The Folio Society edition with introduction by John Mortimer

Henry Pulling, the main character in Graham Greene’s 1969 novel, “Travels With My Aunt,” chose to travel to Paris with his septuagenarian Aunt Augusta.  The book begins in London at the funeral/cremation of Henry’s mother, Aunt Augusta’s sister.  He had not seen her since he was a child. Graham Greene, author of darker novels – “The Power and the Glory” for example – actually had a lighter side to him as displayed in this funny novel.  Check out two of my posts, Graham Greene and the Anglo-Texan Society  and Next Year in London!

Henry, who never married, had retired early from a bank due to bank take-over and spent  his days quietly cultivating dahlias.  When Aunt Augusta invites him to travel with her first to Brighton and then to Paris and Istanbul via the Orient Express, he accepts.  Henry is rather shocked at his aunt’s frank attitude toward sex at her age and is not sure if what she carries across borders in her luggage is legal.  Travel on the Orient Express awakens Henry’s passion when he meets an unconventional young woman.

Oh, yes, before they set out on their travels, the police take away the urn containing the ashes of Henry’s mother because they suspect it may contain a strong mixture of cannabis. The adventures end in Paraguay.  It is pure entertainment all the way!

Illustration by John Holder

Henry, Aunt Augusta and Wordsworth -Book illustration by John Holder

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE


The Flag

“THE FLAG” 1918
by GEORGIA O’KEEFFE

A profoundly humane treatment of O’Keeffe and all the people who figured prominently in her long life.” 
Los Angeles Times

     The above quotation from the Los Angeles Times is on the cover of Roxana Robinson’s book, “Georgia O’Keeffe:  A Life.”  Before I read it recently I did not know that much about this artist’s personal life other than that she was married to the photographer Alfred Stieglitz and spent her last years in New Mexico.  Robinson begins with the first O’Keeffes who emigrated from Ireland and settled in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin in 1848 and ends with her death in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1996 at the age of 98.  In the pages between she reveals the life of the artist sometimes most know for her large flowers and her vision of the Southwest that included animal skulls.

     For her time even as a young woman she was quite liberated as she pursued her education and art and dressed as she pleased.  She moved to New York where she studied art and met Alfred Stieglitz for the first time.  For a time she taught art in Amarillo, Texas and apparently fell in love with the desolate landscape.  A few years later she fell in love with Stieglitz.

     From reading this biography it seems to me that O’Keeffe struggled to balance her need for independence and her passion for creating art (she called it her “work) with the obligations of married life.  She and Stieglitz had no children together so she did not have to factor in the responsibilities of motherhood.

     Although her marriage was unconventional, perhaps she was no different from women today who have to make choices about career, marriage and children.  It takes a strong woman to make the difficult choices; Georgia O’Keeffe must have been a strong woman.

Georgia O’Keeffe
1887 – 1996

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Quote from D.H. Lawrence


D. H. Lawrence (from Wikipedia)

D. H. Lawrence (from Wikipedia)

“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade.
It’s amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.”
D.H. Lawrence

It is hard to imagine the author of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” cutting up oranges or scrubbing a floor, but I do agree that getting busy at something – any mindless task – gets the mind off of one’s troubles.

What do you do when you get the blues?