Thursday, January 25, 2018

My fave books read in 2017

Some of you blog friends have counted how many books you read last year, and listed your faves, and I am doing that today.
I read 89 books plus reading through the Bible again for a total of 90. That seems like a good number for me. I love to read but don't want to rush.  There is all too much hurry in our world today.
I must share with you that I read that if the average person stopped social media they could read 200 books a year! I do spend quite a bit of time blogging, reading blogs and commenting, and on FaceBook. What about you?

Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell.
This is the fifth book I've read by Thirkell, they are romances and jolly good fun.

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
This book is a delightful discovery for me. Queen Elizabeth, in this novel, goes walkabout and has some nice adventures.

Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson. A single lady in rural England needs an income and writes a novel using local villagers and her neighbors as models for the characters in her book. This causes big problems for her in the village. I have read 3 of her novels and they are all entertaining. I am now a DESsie, which is how the Facebook group that I joined calls D.E. Stevenson enthusiasts.

A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates.
I share some similarities with Oates, including that our marriages were more than 40 years and that our husbands died suddenly. Oates writes very brilliantly of her journey, and I understood when she wrote “My discovery is each day is livable if divided into segments. More accurately each day is livable ONLY if divided into segments … (it is not possible to endure an entire day).”She survived without some of the support I have: children, church and seeing a counselor. Oates is a strong woman.

Three memoirs by Abigail Thomas. These are quickly read and I bought one after the other, they are so good. "A Three Dog Life", "What Comes Next and How to Like It" which chronicles her decades long platonic friendship with Chuck, and ""Safekeeping: True Stories from a Life." In "A Three Dog Life" Thomas shares that her husband was hit by a car and lives in a brain damaged state of now. He has no memory of recent or long term events and lives in assisted care.

"9 Dragons" by Michael Connelly. I am reading this detective series in order and in this recent book Harry Bosch, retired detective, tries to protect his teenage daughter and his ex-wife from extreme danger, as they live in Hongkong.

"When  I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent. Wow, if your life is tough (or easy) read this book to learn how a Christian husband and wife deal with their only child's arrest for murder. He is now in prison for many years. All three of them rise to be strong and help others. They started a prison ministry where they give black tee shirts to prison visitors, since in Florida visitors often do not know the rules about what to wear and are turned away.

"Cruelest Month" by Louise Penny. This is number 3 in the Gamache police series which is set in a city south of Quebec. I signed up for Penny's newsletter. Her husband died close to when my husband died and I find it comforting to read her letters where she talks about widowhood.

"Can Your Forgive Her?" by Anthony Trollope, the first in the Palliser series of novels. Wonderful.
It begins the stories of three strong women, their courtships, marriages and choices in life. Alice, Lady Glencora and Arabella have very different stations in life yet their stories sometimes intertwine. I already read the second in the series and look forward to the third. These are set in the 1870s when Anthony Trollope wrote. Since I fell in love with his novels three years ago I have read about 20 of the 47 he has written and look forward to reading the other 27.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Driverless Cars, the Good and the Bad

I've been thinking about the new driverless cars that are being tested. Yes, friends, this topic is a change from my usually light subject posts but I find it fascinating since the cars will soon be here. Chandler, Arizona is allowing cars without drivers on its streets and is a hub for testing and developing these cars. Chandler has many wide and flat streets which is a plus for the driverless or autonomous vehicles. This is big news,friends.
Winners. Anyone who is not able to drive is a potential customer for these cars. Many senior citizens (that's me), handicapped people, and also people who might want to have a drink and then drive or are taking prescription drugs that say "do not drive." These people could benefit from having a car that will drive itself at their beck and call. Would people be able to put a young child in a driverless car for a visit to grandma?
Losers. People who drive for a living. Truck, taxi and Uber drivers. That includes people in my family. On the other hand Lyft spokespeople say actually more riders will mean more drivers/hosts will be used to make the experience of using Lyft more welcoming.
Losers. Everyone who values freedom from government watching them. That includes me.
It is predicted that once it is shown that cars without drivers are much safer than we human drivers, within 10 to 100 years, people "for public safety reasons" will be forbidden from driving. Except perhaps the super rich and powerful. Cars driven by "robots" will not be distracted by texting, will stop at each stop sign, will not speed, will avoid hazards, so the potential is for close to zero accidents.
The government surveillance could occur because although you know the way to the liquor store, church, synagogue, etc. the car will not. It will get the directions from a giant computer. That information of every place you go will be available to authorities. In addition, if networks are down, you will be stuck where you are.
I am imagining future scenarios, again "for your own good". The computer notes you have been to a gambling casino once a week. To an ice cream parlor once a week. Too many visits, or too few, to a place of worship or too much gambling or ice cream. Whatever the benign dictators decide.
Do you watch the TV show Humans? It depicts how people are learning to live with synths which are robots which look human. In one plot line a stern synth (human appearing robot) is assigned as his nurse to an old man against his will. The man helped design and create the synths. She/it insists he take pills and eat boring food, etc. and watches his every move in a very tyrannical manner. I recommend the show.
Oh well, this is mainly a problem for the citizens of the future. I do see driverless cars as a boon to many people but with a nasty downside.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My word is Rest

I had no ambition or desire to choose a word for the year, but recently, reading about a blog friend's choice of her word "kindness", I suddenly felt "rest" is my word for 2018.
After a difficult year in 2017 and a broken heart in 2016 in which I focused on survival, I hope this year will be one in which I rest, love and rebuild.
Also, today I am rather sick and have been resting and fell asleep for an hour at 1:30 in the afternoon, so Rest seems needed and healing.
My aim is not a lazy rest, ha ha, but one to build strength so I can find joy again, and be a support to my sons who are a mighty source of support for me, and to also find the power to help my friends and friends I've yet to meet. And lots of other activities including my hope I may write again, a new book or find a publisher for two that need a publisher home. Rest will remind me that I want to slow down at times. One recent Sunday our minister said that Hurry is a stealer of Peace, and I think Rest will allow space for Peace.
So hello to Rest.
If you have chosen a word or theme for 2018 let me know in a comment. Everyone's choice seems to suit them perfectly. If you aim to enter the year free style without choosing a word I understand and cheer you on too.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Great book about rescued animals "Misfits of Love"

"Misfits of Love: Healing Conversations in the Barnyard" written and illustrated by our fellow blogger, Katherine Dunn.
I wildly admire the author and artist’s talent with words and paint brush as she captures the personalities of her rescued misfit animals. Her farm is brimming with mostly older animals including goats, pigs, dogs, cats, a goose, donkeys and more that she and her husband rescued and created a forever home for them on their farm.
Dunn’s paintings/sketches of her misfits show kindness in the eyes of her subjects and often wisdom. How does she capture that kindness in the eyes and in the tilt of the head? Dunn takes some of her most perceptive misfits to visit people in retirement homes and hurting people visit them at the farm too. One of the misfits is an older donkey named Matilda who has discovered that her inner calling in her own retirement years is to give love, often by standing still as people approach her, pet her and lean gently on her. Rosie the Grumpy Pig and Pino the Healer are more members of her animal family. Dunn’s words and paintings will make you smile, feel wistful and realize that death is part of the cycle of life. I think every thoughtful animal lover will treasure this book and proceeds from book sales go for food and other costs for her Misfits. For more information I enjoy reading Dunn's blog  Apifera Farm which Katherine keeps up to date.