Sunday, November 4, 2012

Historical Fiction at Its Finest

Recently I have picked up some really good books.  Two of them I happened to get for my Kindle.  I always select available copies when downloading to my Kindle because I don't check my e-mail enough to successfully download during the notification window and I am more of an instant gratification sort of girl rather than a delayed anticipator.   I want it and I want it now.  Might be one of the reasons I am having a hard time with wait control.  Hmmm... a thought for another time.  Back on track here.  The other title, I found when looking for possible book club selections.  At the end of each year, I compile a list of possible titles that the LA County Library System can support.  I have about 30 people reading the monthly selection although I only have about 10-15 at any one discussion.  Not every book that would make a good selection is eligible for the list and indeed one of the books that I am going to discuss below fell into that category. 

The Lost Wife was Allison Richman opens with a rehersal dinner for Josef and Lenka's grandchildren.  A time when family members that might not have met before do.  Josef looks across the room and studies Lenka.  Eventually he approaches Lenka at the end of the evening to introduce himself.  He says, "I think I am your husband."  Thus starts the book and a tale of sadness, heartbreak and love.  Lovers separated by the Nazi invastion of the fairytale city of Prague after one night of nuptial bliss.  This is a story of escape and survival of rebuilding what world events tore apart and the enduring love of a lifetime.  I checked this book out on my Kindle and immidately ordered a copy of it for the library.  I haven't seen it in the library since.  Well worth the read.
The second title I checked out on my Kindle and will make an appearance in the Book Club next year.  Again a story of survival, loss and being able to find love in midst of heartache.  This compelling story is listed as a Young Adult novel but is worth the older audiences attention.  This book opens in Riga during the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  Riga is one of my all time favorite cities and would love to return but the tragedy of the Soviet impact on these countries remains reatively untold to a wider audience.  I am glad t hat Ruta Sepetys felt compelled to tell the story of her family's history in novel.  If this doesn't become a movie, I will be sorely disappointed.
I read about The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman on Good Reads while I was researching Book Club selections for the members to vote on.  There was not enough copies to support the Book Club but I felt compelled to request the book.  Within a few words I knew I was in for a good story.  The story begin on the day of the great stock market crash that marked the beginning of the Depression in the United States.  Set in the hallows of West Virginia coal country, we met Patience Murphy who found her midwife apprentenceship cut short by the death of her beloved mentor.  But babies will be born despite and Patience must summon the courage to rise to the challenge of bringing new life into a world that has lost hope while confronting her own fears and past for Patience does have a past.  This is a story of finding rays of hope in a bleak landscape darkened with coal dust, poverty, unfair labor practices, and the growing economic tragedies that threaten to tear the fabric of a nation. 
Patricia Harman is a retired midwife and writes from experience.  She lived on communes and was an activist during the sixties and writes from experience.  Her storytelling is flawless and compelling.  This is a story of the strength of human spirit and the flaws of human characters. 
Once again I ordered a copy of this title for the library.  I have recommended it to several people and had to request it for a couple of them.  Everyone that has read it has enjoyed the story.  I also plan ot give a copy to my mom when I go home.  My mom is very descrimmating in what she is willing to read and it is only the very best that converge in her and my interests.

And one more while I am thinking of it.  I picked up Moloka'i by Alan Brennert at Target two years ago to read while I was at home for Thanksgiving them.  It is a compelling haunting story that will stay with you.  I have been thinking about it quite a bit recently for two reasons, I am going home again for Thanksgiving this year and I was searching for titles to put on the Book Club voting list.  Alas, there are not enough copies to support the Book Club.  When I finished this book, I added to our collection and it hasn't graced my library shelves once in the past two years.  It is always off to the next person that wants to read it.  If that isn't recommendation enough, then I don't quite know what is. 
Set in old Hawaii, a Hawaii that is now lost but yet still remembered, this is the story of a young leper torn from her family and sent to Moloka'i to live in the leper colony there.  It is beautifully told that recounts decades spent in captivity, I found that within the first few pages, I needed to make sure that I had a box of tissues with me at all times.  There is laughter, too.  This is another story of the strength of the human spirit and the tragedy of human shortcomings.  

Feeling Fragile

Woke up this morning feeling fragile.  Not sure why but maybe because Pop visited me in my dreams.  Not a bad one, just me needing to ask the police and realizing that my dad was there and I could consult with him so I talked to him. Dreams of him are few and far between and some of them are dreading up old issues.  I guess that fragments of them remain on my psyche and still demand working out, but this wasn't one of them.  I think that today, I am just sad that Pop is gone.  When the cats finally convinced me it was cuddle time, I realized that I was having a hard time seeing the glass as half full and feeling as it was rather more than half empty.   I try to focus on all the positives in my life most of the time, but this morning all the negatives seems to be knocking at my conscious demanding attention be paid. 

I was going to go up to Chumash with Mary et al, but I think that I am not fit for company and need to spend time getting myself together.  Might go see a movie to distract me.  Will post about recent good reads in a few to distract me. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Hiatus Has Ended

Here I am back again.  I was gone for a long while trying to sort things out and get priorities in order.  Let's see what has happened.  Most recently I moved to Montrose--a downgrade in my apartment but nearer work and a nice community.  The apartment is older and I no longer have a laundry room in the apartment and kitchen is smaller and lacking in the marble counters, stainless steel appliances and flagstone floors but  what the hey.  I have gained in time and a fatter pocketbook--no more gas fillups twice a week for commuting.  I also have a farmer's market on Sundays within walking distance.

I think I have kitted the apartment out nicely, all of my furniture fits so that is a bonus.
This is my dining area.  I have stackable chairs available but the daily dining experience is very posh with my arm chairs and the daybed serving as seating.  I've tucked a shoe box under the table to put shoes in when I come home.  The entry way is very small.

This is the living room.  I also have my bar area to the side of the sofa.  On the wall across from the sofa is the TV, cat tree and Japanese art arrangement. 
Here you can see Misha jumping down from the cat tree and my view from the balcony, you can just make out my parking space and I have a free entrance about 50 feet from my the apartment entrance.  One exit to work.  I would take cross streets but to the right is the free way entrance and the left means crossing traffic coming off the freeway and trying to get on it.
The kitchen is basic and sort of small but completely serviceable.  I have given up brewed coffee for instant because the tea kettle takes up less space and is multipurpose. 
 Here is my Japanese art arrangement.  I have three framed pages from antique books featuring woodblock illustrations.  There is also my Kagura mask of a jealous woman, a fan, a photo I took of Maiko in Kyoto and a scroll of the famous Buddhist chant.  I think this arrangement turned out nicely.

 Here is the bedroom featuring the shell-back chairs that I brought back with me from Oklahoma.  The one nearest the window used to be blue damask and I remember curling up in the chair to read as a child.  I would like to eventually re-upholster them in a peacock blue damask again. 

 Sasha is about to go into the closet.  I have to keep the doors open, note open door to the bathroom sink as well for the boys to make a hasty retreat.  Sasha likes to sleep on my Japanese mink blanket in the closet.  Misha seems to prefer under the bathroom sink.

 The bathroom is much smaller than my old one and the litter box is in the bathroom.  I had to get a smaller one than they are used to.  The cats are not happy with this turn of events for them.  One morning, I found litter pushed out onto the rug and a nice pile of poop on it.  I guess the message is if I refuse to get them a bigger box, then they will creatively make a bigger one.

 One of the nice features of this apartment is the pantry--which I use as dish/appliance storage.  I put in a bookshelf on the other side to store all my craft supplies, books, etc.  This area still needs a little bit of organization but everything is coming along nicely. 

At first the boys were very unhappy about the move.  They hid out for the first two days in the closet only coming out at night.  Then on the 3rd night, Misha and Sasha took to tag teaming in their unhappiness from 11:00 to 3:00 in the morning.  I told everyone that if I said I was going to the Angeles National Forest, know that I was carrying the body of a dead cat that I needed to dispose of.  But since then they have calmed down and even let me sleep until 5:30 this morning.  Progress.