Saturday, December 31, 2011

Apple For The First Meal of The New Year

Swedish tradition says have an apple for the first meal of the new year. It will promote good health all through the year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Public Transportation and car-pool lanes

The HOT lanes mentioned in the paper today allow cars driven by a person alone to pay to use the car-pool and public transportation lanes. This is a quote from an article in the Tacoma News Tribune. "We've already confirmed that the SR 167 HOT lanes are doing what they were designed to do: reduce congestion and improve travel times for everyone traveling on this corridor," state toll director Craig Stone said in a WSDOT news release issued this month.

The speaker means car by car congestion, and uses the term everybody, which refers to individual people. I think it must be true that the speaker is not discussing per capita congestion, but car by car congestion. The ecological purpose of the car-pool lanes is ruined by this use. Instead of this offense against public transportation, there should be special lines at busy post offices for people who have used a public transportation card that day. That would serve as an incentive to people to use public transportation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Books At Twelve Ten and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen


Three people met to discuss The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. First, a) to continue into the spring at the main library meeting room on the second Tuesday of every month we have to reserve the room... b) Also we discussed letting people forward absentee thoughts if unable to attend because of illness. Althought we are supposed to show up, be there and share, and also help choose the books, we might try out allowing a limited amount of contribution from absentee members. c) Next we made our choice for January - from limited library holdings, a new book by Sarah R. Shaber, Louise's War. The limited availability is the opposite of the Book Kits choices Books At Twelve Ten has experimented with in autumn.


Fifteen minutes into our discussion, we began to discuss The Corrections: according to one participant - "A big, complicated and tedious book." It was a long novel with rather few scenes and a great deal of flashbacks.

We had questions from the internet and discussed three or four - Consider the atmosphere of suburban St. Jude. and What is the significance of the title, The Corrections? and and What is the significance of "one last Christmas?"

One participant pointed out that the work is to be on HBO - (Home Box Office) I had not heard of it, according to the internet this will happen in 2013. As we made our way through questions the participant who chose the book explained they understood the title to mean the book was about the criminal justice system.

But the story only mentioned the criminal justice system distantly - one definition of corrections was a name, Correct-All, for a pill that would make criminals honest citizens. The words of the title are re-worked throughout the novel.

Here at the end of the year as I read I had dimly related to the final section of the book "One Last Christmas"as timely - and the idea of a holiday at home for the people in the story was not so unlike other unstable families.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bird Count, Thanksgiving 2011

There were over forty seagulls at the pond along with twenty-some mallards, about nine were female. There was time to gaze at these gulls who crowded all over the circle/cylindar when I scattered a few bread bits, and to notice there was a difference, as shown in the Birds book I had along, between the Glaucus, the Herring, and the Western gull.

Eight appeared to be the immature Western Gull, a beautiful photograph was on-line at Matthew Filar Fine Art Photography. This photography group is near-by Humboldt County, where the Thanksgiving Bird Count I count with is located.

Four crows flew over my circle/cylindar at one point. When about five minutes remained in the hour of the count, about eight small birds flittered through the edge of the circle and lit among tree branches and on the ground among shrubs. They went to the other side of the pond quickly, so I went over and made sure they were Juncos. They were.

It only started to rain lightly thirty-five minutes into the count. But it had been so stormy, the crows were balancing on strong windy gusts, most of the other birds were budgeting their time at feeding stations, I guess.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunday the 20th and 27th of November, Library Closed - Reading for Books at Twelve Ten

The Main Library will be closed tomorrow, November 20, and next Sunday, November 27th. If I had not visited the Main Library today, I would not have known that it would be closed tomorrow. In December the Sunday openings continue.

When Tacoma Reads Together read The Maltese Falcon, I began to read mysteries. Last New Year's Eve I remember being on a bus to Pierce County Library because my turn had come to read a new mystery. Why would I be interested in cozy mysteries? Maybe Books at Twelve Ten could read a mystery from a series and discuss mysteries.

In January Books At Twelve Ten will continue, moderated in turn by volunteers who are frequent members of the books group. In December we will discuss The Corrections.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Books at Twelve Ten Discusses A Desert In Bohemia, and Works With Book Kits


A discussion developed around the title of the novel for November, Jill Paton Walsh's A Desert in Bohemia, named from a passage in Shakespeare's, The Winter's Tale. On page 140 the world immediately outside the prison cell is a "desert of concrete and wire". I commented that the reference from Shakespeare located this portrait of Bohemia as from the perspective of England.

The work was fiction based on events that occurred in Comenia, a part of Checkosovakia, after World War Two. Unlike Bohemia or England, Comenia was a fictional country. I was able to locate Comenius, John Amos, 1592-1670 - a Moravian educational reformer and bishop. It seems Jill Paton Walsh has named her novel's country after her pattern of philosophical and literary references, and for the central theme of a passion for intellectual activities and freedoms.

One group member explained that she had started to keep a record of the characters. All the parts of the book were named for characters. Not all of our discussion could stay in this vein, because many comments came up as we began to discuss the landscape. Much happened in Comenian streets or in camps, but especially in an elaborate castle.

Our discussion time came to an end as we talked about power and the character Count Michael and his historic family. Some of us did agree that Count Michael was a character with power who acted conscionably and responsibly.

John Amos Comenius is called Komensky in Czechoslovakian. One interesting internet experience for me as I read A Desert in Bohemia was to glance at a few blocks in Good Earth Street Views along Komensky Street in Chicago. This reminded me that a United States perspective about this topic might be different from the perspective from England.


We have learned about Book Kits this Autumn. All the books should be in the plastic carrier when the one patron who checks the kit out returns them. At one point a Book Kit borrower had to travel and tried to contact everyone to collect the books - she luckily found me at the library. We drove to my apartment to collect my copy and a set of little luggage wheels. Then we returned to the library, and after she checked in the kit, I checked the kit out again for us.

The five who discussed our November book rose to a half-dozen at the end of our discussion because we met the usual moderator when we left the meeting room. With her we continued the discussion, and she assured our Book Kit borrower of the month that, although we had only eleven instead of twelve of the copies, everything would be all right. Our selection for December will not be from a Book Kit, but from a title with a number of copies in the system, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yesterday, November 4th, Read at the Henry Gallery

Part One

At the Henry Gallery SkySpace yesterday I introduced my reading of Folk Songs with comments. 2011 has been the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. I linked the KJV of the Bible to Pogo, the comic strip by Walt Kelly and The Anxiety of Influence by Harold Bloom.

In the wonderfully funny comic strip Pogo, by Walt Kelly, the character Deacon Mushrat speaks, in his dialogue boxes, in Old English. This could only be to me, a child reading and re-reading Pogo, the voice of the King James Version of the Bible. When Walt Kelly drew Deacon Mushrat with a large book in his hand, Kelly must have made the recognition described in The Anxiety of Influence, by Harold Bloom. Because of the great influence Kelly felt from the Bible, he needed to search along some mental bookshelf for a different title for the large book. So, The Anxiety of Influence, by Harold Bloom, suggests how, when Walt Kelly swerved, Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas came to be.

It was very interesting to see one or two of the events at the Translation Festival Wave Books yesterday. The festival continues today and Sunday.

Part Two

One or two copies of Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas exist in the swamp, another copy was featured as one-half of the library of a large bird who was training a smaller bird in bird skills.

One memorable strip involving Mole ends with this comment, one familiar to Kelly enthusiasts - "There's Nothing Quite So Lovely As A Brightly Burning Book". The book that was burning was indeed Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas.

In the first box, when asked by Howland Owl, "Where's Cap'n Wimby's Bird Atlas?" -

Mole declares - "Discredited." In the next box - "It didn't agree with our observations, did it, men?"

"No, sir, it's out of date."

"And on fire."

Howland Owl's expression progresses from outrage to shock from the first to the last boxes. This is wonderful work by Walt Kelly, it is nice to remember the reading and re-reading of the Pogo books both recently and long ago.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Use Public Transportation, Walk, Or Ride Bike

On the bus into Seattle last Thursday morning I saw the striped sweaters on the trees in Pioneer Square. Then I had a few peanuts as a snack and gradually realized I was staring at an old clock – it was nine o'clock - on the sidewalk where the jewelry store was a hundred years old. I walked around a block to Westlake Center and as I passed a clothing store a door opened briefly. The aroma that swung out was the artificial holiday department store atmosphere-scent from days when I was a girl going to department stores at a mall. My earliest downtown shopping for Christmas presents had not included a solid wall of immense perfume – what I remember while I was a child selecting a tie for my father was something more subtle.

That brought me around to an old clipping about Nose knows: Smell a potent link to memories – this list of identifiable aromas from decades of birth is still on the internet – except, in my clipping from Friday, December 25, 1992, the 1940s also responded to gas.

Gas was memorable to me – although I have never owned a car, I was at the flying red horse station Mobil with my mother when the attendant, who had been there for a long time, filled up my mother's tank. Well, I use public transportation, walk, or ride a bike. I do not really know where the idea of smell a potent link to memories lost the smell of gas.

This is from the internet:

1970's - Baby powder, mother's perfume, moth balls, plastic, hair spray, suntan oil, chlorine, felt tip pens

1960's - Baby powder, mother's perfume, chlorine, window cleaner, dad's cologne, detergent, paste, Play Dough, disinfectant, refineries/factories, motor oil, exhaust

1950's - Baby powder, mother's perfume, dad's cologne, crayons, pine, Play Dough

1940's - Baby powder, mother's perfume, hay/cut grass, flowers, sea air, roses, tweed

1930's - Flowers, hay, sea air, pine, baby powder, burning leaves

1920's - Flowers, grass, roses, pine, soap, manure

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Attended Kenneth C. Davis Skype Event at Library

In the past I have not been onscreen during a Skype event, this time the screen showed the meeting room of the Wheelock Library, which had been part of the McCormick Library before the Wheelock Regional Library was built. The room is special and lovely but free of books, except when there is an event there.

Several people attended and several asked questions about the Civil War and about his books, "Don't Know Much About The Civil War", among them. Davis said he had been familiar with the song "What a Wonderful Word" for a long time and especially the Sam Cooke version. (The song was from 1960 and written by Sam Cooke, according to the internet.) Davis makes an emphasis on the important special stories about people during historic times.

Skype. I worked at McCormick Branch Library from 1965 to 1967, during high school.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October Books At Twelve-Ten - Breakfast At Sally's by Richard Le Mieux

Three people met on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 for Books At Twelve-Ten. Our book was Breakfast at Sally's by Richard Le Mieux. We agreed that imagery invoked a place successfully, at one point Richard's second-hand typewriter is accidentlly left out in the rain on a picnic table. More rain scenes portrayed Puget Sound.

We discussed many characters included in Breakfast at Sally's and the serious message conveyed regarding poverty in our present time. "Sally's" was the Bremerton Salvation Army, where Richard drove his van most mornings for breakfast. His dog, Willow, was along during all his experiences.

The reading group is using Tacoma Public Library Book Kits for our choices at this time. The kits include ten or a dozen copies of a title, a reading and discussion guide in a folder, and a plastic carry box with a plastic lid. The ten or a dozen copies circulate within the reading group from the personal library card of one member. All the books must return to the member who checked out the box before the kit can be returned.

On Tuesday, November 8th, 2011, the Books At Twelve-Ten group will read Desert in Bohemia by Jill Paton Walsh. From the internet: "a novel of the effects of communism on the lives of ordinary people in the aftermath of World War II chronicals fifty years in a small European town."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Swedish Song - Now We Have Summer Now We Have Sun

Years back a cousin and I enjoyed the sunny chairs not far from the Ted Brown Music Store. I showed her a Scandinvian Song Book from Ted Brown Music. She told me Nu är det sommar nu är det sol had been our grandmother's favorite song.

This is a different version of the song about dancing in the woods in the moonlight. The tune of the song was among those performed by my mother and uncles in their family dance band, the Gord Family Orchestra.

Nu är det sommar nu är det sol / nu är det koskit i hagen / och kärringskrallet sitter på en stol / med fullt av kakor i magen. / Kom ska jag kaska koskit på dig / så att du tappar andan.

Now we have summer now we have sun / now we have cowshit in the meadow / and the old woman rattling sits in a chair / but full of cake in the stomach. / I am going to cast cow shit at you / so that you draw a breath.

During one discussion of The Crucible, a panel about the McCarthy Hearings, during Tacoma Reads Together in 2006, I brought up a book I had been reading - a treatise about the word bullshit. One topic of the book was that the term bullshit refers to language that obscures meaning. The term also is used the punctuate sentences for shock emphasis, and when the term is used this way, it is usually used over and over.

I tried to find Nu är det sommar nu är det sol on the internet. The song with "nu är det koskit i hagen" was the only thing I could find. Where my grandmother was a child in Finland was out in the country and perhaps she knew this alternative version, too, from her childhood. Perhaps this version is very far from meaningless, but is a jewel from the great treasure of children's rhymes.

Perhaps this jewel from the great treasure of children's rhymes is here, being passed on to another generation of children.

The dancer/singer who performs this song for children At Den flygande mattan wears a rather traditional sailor costume and uses lots of leg and arm gestures and energy. The children in the audience are just beginning upper elementary school grades. I think this is an outreach to the children to take on healthy eating and exercise behavior.

There are problems. In our time a dancer can be perceived to use a private car. With this luxury there is a baggage of car-dependent guilt, blame, and road rage. How does the singer and the filmed program make sure they are not taking all this out on the helpless, innocent little ones?

It is terrible to think of the committee that arrives at a school in their several cars to "Carrie Nation" the school hallway snack machine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Drawings From Puyalllup Fairs of the Past

Draft Horse Demo, Pioneer Farm with Wringer Washstand, Topiary Chicken, and Jiggle Foot.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Books At Twelve Ten Plans For October

Four people were present to discuss Then We Came To The End on Tuesday at noon. This time the plan included making up our own Autumn book list. We explored the idea of Tacoma Public Library's Book Kits and will begin with Richard Le Mieux's Breakfast At Sally's.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Volunteers To Continue Books At Twelve Ten

During library funding gaps, volunteers are organizing to continue Books At Twelve Ten - Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, group member will meet to discuss "Then We Came To The End", a book we enjoyed last September - If we look back on books read by Books at Twelve-Ten, there are things happening for the books and for the authors – According to the internet, if everything goes as planned, Fox 2000 hopes to start shooting The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in the spring. Author of The Highest Tide, Jim Lynch's Border Songs won the 2010 Washington State Book Award. I Don't Know How She Does It – will soon be released, Sarah Jessica Parker stars in film version. We read The Pact– the Three Doctors are on Facebook. A Sherman Alexie poem – "The Lost Colony of Roanoke", is in the on-line magazine Guernica, August 2011.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Labor Day Weekend

The Nelson Bentley Medallion for Best Inter-Woven-Vision-of-Richard-Hugo, a lovely round award decorated with the image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, would be awarded to the speaker ahead of Ginni during Bumbershoot. Ginni met the winner while they visited the theater where they would speak. (This is a work of fiction. Bumbershoot in The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour, carries no resemblance to any other Bumbershoot Event in the Pacific Northwest.)

Ginni was requisitioned a t-shirt to wear if she wished to during the speech.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Correspondence

What a happy day it was when one of Ginni's post cards or notes arrived at the doll museum! These went right up on the bulletin board at the office where everyone could see them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

UW-Tacoma plans to honor Japanese Language School | Tacoma Weekly

This article from the Tacoma Weekly shows a planned recognition of the Japanese Language School. This school was present in the neighborhood not far from the Tacoma Main Library before World War Two, and an effort to preserve the building continued for years. UW-Tacoma plans to honor Japanese Language School Tacoma Weekly

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yard Sale Poem

Poem from 1877 that I found at a Yard Sale in 1987

Last Sunday, as I went around a corner towards a yard sale, I recognized those front steps and the steep bank. This was where I found a poem, years before, among other letters in a box of old papers. The box was laid out with other yard sale items.

Because the poem was written by a Hancher and was with Iowa items and from the midwest, I thought of the Writers' Workshop and decided to mail it to Marvin Bell. This is the poem as I copied it into a diary in 1987 - Found today (8/30/87) at a yard sale to mail to Marvin Bell at The Iowa City Writers' Workshop

This world seems cold seems sad & drear,

It seems a sea of temporal woe.

Perhaps the Lord hath seen "twere best,

That I immortal joys should know:

All Else than Him seems but a blank;
Life's rugged road seems dark & drear;

It seems as if 'twere - ah! too vain!

To try to think of aught to cheer.

The past has been to me, a blank?

Ah no! Then I was filled with hope;

The present come & seems so drear,

I can but in the darkness grope;

But Lord in thee I'll put my trust,

Whatever evil may betide;

And when my mission here is done,

I trust that thou my soul wilt guide

Into the haven of the blest
Where all is joy, and peace, and love;

where sickness comes not neither death:

Oh! There I'll rest with thee above!

An hour has passed! A ray of hope

Springs on my path, my heart to cheer.

Oh! That the darkness of this hour,

Would cease; and untold joy appear:

Twould bring relief to one who sits,

And watches me with anxious heart;

Who longs to see those joys appear;

And all this misery depart.

Ever yours

J W Hancher
, Ohio


Last Sunday, August 14th, 2011, I reminded the homeowner, a lady, about the letter I had found, years before. That evening I located the event as August 30th, 1987, during my first year in a large one-room apartment with a galley kitchen.

Because of the name Hancher and the midwest location I addressed it to Marvin Bell at the Iowa City Writers' Workshop. In 1987 there was a Sunday pickup at the mail box near the pharmacy. I still remember that the letter hit the bottom of an empty mailbox with a lonesome thud. The mail had already been picked up, it would have to wait overnight.

Then remorse set in. Had I been impetuous to just put on a stamp and mail it, should I have sent it registered mail?

On the phone on Thursday to the International Workshop, which transferred my call to the Writers' Workshop with no letter found, I tried directory assistance and called Marvin Bell at home. He said he tried to call me. I probably was doing the laundry.

He sent the poem to acquisitions at the university library where they would decide if they wanted it or if it should be sent to Iowa Wesleyan. Iowa Wesleyan was the choice.

The yard sale in 2011 was again a treasury. The theme here was beautiful knick knacks, and they were wonderful. When I spoke to the lady, while I was looking through some Nancy Drew books, an old pot-holder weaving frame, she remembered me. I had brought a copy of correspondence I had with Iowa over to her at that long-ago time.

She said on Sunday that eventually they had arranged for more of the correspondence to be sent to Iowa to a Greek living community, a fraternity or sorority.

The return to this same yard sale from twenty-four years before took me across thoughts into the times I have known since then. I lived in five apartments in four old buildings in the two neighboring historic districts from 1974 to 2004 - thirty years of Historic Tacoma. Presently I am in yet another historic Tacoma Neighborhood.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Part Five

Part Five: On Their Way

And so they were on their way - Ginni, Shadow, Gypsy, and Ms.
Torvaldsen. Ms. Torvaldsen had contacted media and that day's paper included an article about the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Part Four


In the middle of the night Ginni sat at her table beside the cafe curtains at the kitchen window. Only a stove light was on, and above the curtains Ginni could make out one or two stars in the dark sky. Shadow was asleep on his kitchen rug and Gypsy was asleep, her head inside her shell, in her aquarium.

On her refrigerator was Ginni's list under its fridge magnet: Ms Torvaldsen was with media and public relations for the doll museum and would accompany Ginni, Shadow, and Gypsy to take photographs and tapes of the trip and the performances.

In her kitchen the night before the trip, Ginni was happy that Ms. Torvaldsen would be with them - for although Ginni had not realized she felt anxious, Ginni had once again had the bad dream about Gypsy being forgotten.

"But how we called and called to the volunteer as he was walking away from putting the pond turtles into the aquarium. Poor Gypsy!"

After that Gypsy lived with Ginni and Shadow.

"Why am I dreaming this again and again? Surely I cannot be afraid that Gypsy will be forgotten on our trip? Perhaps Ms. Torvaldsen will also help with Gypsy."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Report for the Summer Reading Club on a book about Stieg Larsson and herself by Eva Gabrielsson


The book is written with Marie-Francoise Colombani, and translated from the French by Linda Coverdale.

For the many readers of the Millenium series Eva Gabrielsson tells about her shared experience with Stieg Larsson. Connections to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest are many and clearly made. Places and people they knew are described in the books. Also described in the books are memories Stieg Larsson shared with her about his childhood:

"At the beginning of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist accepts an offer from Henrik Vanger, Harriet Vanger's uncle, to move into the guest house not far from Hedestad. It's the middle of winter, and he describes the 'ice roses that formed on the inside of the windows': they were the same ones that used to fascinate Stieg in his grandparents' home..."(Gabrielsson, Page 9)

They made a visit together to the little house that was Stieg Larsson's first home. Photos of this house are in the book.

Bible references were central clues in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo mystery and important is her explanation of the Bible in Scandinavia. Gabrielsson liked to light candles in old churches they visited together. Also important is her identity as an architect. The thirty years Stieg Larsson and Eva Gabrielsson spent together were lived in a city apartment. Her struggle to hold on to the apartment, which is her home, after Stieg Larsson died, is central to the book.

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour, Part Three


The doll museum wanted Ginni to look her best and suggested she choose pieces to bring along from storage. The costuming department was a floor above the great hall. In a far storage room was a section where clothes fit Ginni.

In Ginni's current primary voters' pamphlet the announcement "We're bringing back an old tradition" stirred her again and again to thoughts of the flag. This remained in her thoughts as she opened the windowshade to let light into the dim storage room..

"Will my everyday dress be right for the train ride?" wondered Ginni, as she and Shadow planned what to bring.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Part Two


Ginni is employed at the doll museum. In the great hall Ginni plays the role of Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring. Ginni can wear the Native American Costume owned by the Doll Museum, it fits quite well. For this reason Ginni was chosen for her job. The museum had also owned a Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring marionette. But an Older Sister with talent for blonde wool yarn turned the marionette into Alice in Wonderland.

When Ginni got the letter from the group called The "I Am An American" Speaking Tour, which had chosen Ginni to speak on the topic, "Good Citizenship", Ginni had to explain this to the Doll Museum and ask for a leave of absence.

The Doll Museum was happy for Ginni. This would be a chance for Ginni to make a difference. They could arrange some baskets and drums beneath the cigar box felts where Ginni usually stands.

The magnificent cigar box felts are close to a hundred years old.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Story of Ginni and The "I Am An American" Speaking Tour


In Ginni's current primary voters' pamphlet the announcement "We're bringing back an old tradition" stirred her to thoughts of the flag. This was the announcement:

Citizenship Day was first celebrated in May, 1940 and was called "I am an American" Day.

In 1952, it was moved to September 17, Constitution Day, to correspond with the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787. Tacoma's last celebration was in 1949.

Today we consider Citizenship/Constitution Day as the birthday for our country. It serves as a means for American citizens to express pride in their citizenship. Constitution Day also designates a time to honor the Constitution of America and learn more about this famous piece of legislation.

The pamphlet included photos of Jason Lee Middle School auditorium on "I am an American Day."

Ginni had attended a junior high school. To be a doll in junior high school had meant so much to her. A few days later she got a letter from a group called The "I Am An American" Speaking Tour. They had chosen Ginni to speak on the topic, "Good Citizenship". The Speaking Tour Group would pay all Ginni's expenses on her tour to places in the United States, including housing and Amtrak train fare.

Shadow and Ginni had always been friends. Of course Shadow and Ginni would both go on the tour. Gypsy had always been Ginni's friend. Of course Gypsy would also go on the tour with Shadow and Ginni.

In The Story Of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour, the part of Ginni is played by a collector's doll. The part of Shadow is played by a bendable toy dog. The part of Gypsy is played by a ceramic turtle figurine.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Report for the Adult Summer Reading Club - on Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky

Fire Sale (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York: 2005) is set in South Chicago, where the narrator, private detective V.I. Warshawski was a child. "In this town, your childhood home dogs you your whole life."(Page 8). As an amplification of the priority we need to make about being aware of where objects come from, the novel is set in a small flag factory, and characters in the novel reflect the hardships and dangers of people at work to craft the flags, symbols of the United States.

One motivator for me to read Fire Sale was the Bysen family characters, who own BySmart and are modeled after people who own Walmart. Presently in the news in Walmart's Food Deserts: Greening the Bottom Line by Eric Holt Gimenez: First Lady Michelle Obama announced that SUPERVALU, Walgreens and Walmart committed to open or expand 1,500 supermarkets across America's food deserts -- low-income areas without easy access to a supermarket. Gimenez concludes - if greening the food deserts are a policy priority, then we need more than just new supermarkets. We need programs that reduce record high income inequality and create jobs with decent living wages.

One motivator for me to read Sara Paretsky's Fire Sale was the current primary election voter's pamphlet. A section about the Pierce County Citizenship Celebration illustrates "We're bringing back an old tradition," with photographs of flags from 1941's "I am an American Day."

"The soft fabric was falling from her machine into a wooden box: the U.S. flag must not touch the ground." (Page 112) The factory's worker's daughters are on the basketball team narrator private detective Warshawski has volunteered to coach, and concerned about how meager the funding is for the girls' positive involvement and activity, she approaches the Bysen (BySmart) family with a request for support. The factory worker feeds six people on her small salary. A theme of the novel is teen pregnanacy. The girls sleep in flag sheets. The story centers around an explosion and fire at the factory, which becomes an even more grim place just after the fire: "...still some bolts of fabric in their plastic sheathing,...the edges had been eaten by rodents, charmed to have such soft nest-building material laid out for them." (Page 370).

Some chapter titles refer to cowboy songs, "Home, Home on the Range", for example, as a reference to the homonym Byson and Bison.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Norwegian Songs at Thursday's Listen Live At Lunch

Among other familiar songs - The Ash Grove, and There is a Balm in Gilead, as well as Kum Ba Yah - presented by musical performers with the church - the organ recital for First Lutheran's Listen Live at Lunch on Thursday July 28, 2011 included Norwegian songs and very short comments by Pastor Nesvig. At one point he discussed the shared tradition between Sweden and Norway of two songs, In Heaven Above and Halsa Dem Darhemma). The Norwegian songs were a remembrance of the events of last Friday, July 22, in Norway. This is the description of this section from the Listen Live at Lunch program:

Norwegian Hymns and Folksongs

Two Norwegian Hymns: The norwegian folk melody heritage is well-represented in the Church of Norway's hymnal. Two of these melodies sung today have roots in the Hallingdal and Heddal valleys of central Norway. These folk melodies, along with their texts, are haunting and profound, especially this week as we remember the horrible events of last Friday.

Eg Veit I himmerik ei borg harm. John Lammetun

I himmelen, I himmelen harm. Lars Soraas

In Heaven Above (an organ interlude)

Two Norwegian Folk Songs: The choral tradition is strong in Norway, from kindergarten to church, from home to community. These two folk songs are widely known and sung in Norway. The first represents the longing of a sailor for "the folks back home". The second offers the way to respond as a community when adveristy strikes.

Hils fra meg der hjemme Edith Worsing

La oss leve for hverandre Sundstrom/Friis

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tacoma Downtown Market

Cherries, Corn, Lettuce, and Raspberries at the downtown market today. Nice sun, a walk to the library, my plan is to attend Listen Live At Lunch at First Lutheran Church.

Monday, July 18, 2011

William Makepeace Thackeray, 200

At Northeast 45th and Thackeray Place Northeast, Seattle, this morning a great poster wished William Makepeace Thackeray a happy 200th Birthday. "All is vanity, nothing is fair" he was quoted. According to the internet, William Makepeace Thackeray was born in India. The bus shelter near the poster is on a tree-lined street off busy 45th, which crosses the freeway. The walk was not very long from the University District. It was a few years between a recommendation that I read Vanity Fair in junior high school until I noted a journal entry of me reading that book while at a Hamburg Inn Diner in Iowa City. It was an evening visit, while my usual Hamburg Inn visit was a morning stop for French Toast. Vanity Fair.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Report on Blacklist by Sara Paretsky for the Summer Reading Club


In another book I reported on, STIEG LARSSON: OUR DAYS IN STOCKHOLM by Kurdo Baksi, I learned that among crime novelists that influenced Stieg Larsson was Sara Paretsky. Both use short chapters. Both may have been influced by other crime writers.

In one passage in THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST (2009) when Michael Blomkvist needs a different car because there is a tracking device on his car, he has recognized her car key among things in a bag she dropped - during their brief encounter while someone was chasing her - and he can go to Elizabeth Salander's neighborhood to drive her car from Stockholm to Goteborg. In BLACKLIST(2003) V.I. Warshawski has retained the car key when, hired by the family of the victim, she has gotten a locksmith to open his car. She can drive a youth she is hiding from the Patriot Act to a new location.

At times I have found the Sara Paretsky narration, nice Chicago description and a reaffirmation of the reader's attention with repeated, reassuring characterization, to include points memorable to me:

I had earliet come upon her novel, TUNNEL VISION, such a point is "I can't say I would have known him anywhere - it had been twenty years since I'd seen or thought of him. But knowing to expect him I recognized him at once."(page 79) This word choice in this observation about cognition states something we have known without words.

In BLACKLIST, the narrator remembers her mother saying, "We don't give into our worries...we do some job, like this, we do it well, we make the worries leave us alone..."(page 170)

Of BLACKLIST, the book's blurb: "As she retraces the dead reporter's track, V.I. is sucked into the middle of a gothic tale of sex, money and power." There are fewer than usual scenes, in this gothic, in which V.I. Warshawski is kidnapped or attacked. My observation about this is that as her female characters' histories reflect romance, a less violent story is appropriate.

In the post- 911 times of the Patriot Act, the characters' background with McCarthy era blacklists in the mid-nineteen-fifties includes African-Americans. The frequent chapter titles include familiar references to culture, including to Brer Rabbit and Joel Chandler Harris.

The dead reporter's name was Marc Whitby - I wonder if the name is a woven-in reference to the idea that the blacklist was a list of people with a black mark made against their name. One reference to Stockholm Syndrome at an important point in the book reminds me how proximity to others can blur borderlines. At the same time it reminds me that proximity and blurred borders are dangerous combined with weapons.