Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
It was really fun to read about the local area and the Kalamazoo River. I even started driving out along the Kalamazoo River and was wondering where the tributary was, that was in the book, as there was a map at the front of the book. (I believe I have mentioned before how much I love maps in books, that help me place where things are happening.) But then I realized, that other than Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo River, the rest of the places were fictional.
The story itself was engaging - about a modern day Annie Oakley - who had learned to live off the river and land from her grandfather, and was a crack shot. I once had fantasies about living off the land, but the concept of hunting has never appealed to me, and I have done very minimal fishing, and have never even gotten very far with growing my own vegetables, so obviously this was much more fantasy than reality. But it doesn't mean I can't appreciate and admire someone who can do these things, especially a young girl.
Margo Crane has a tough life, her father is the illegitimate son of Grandpa Murray of Murray Metal. Her mother deserted the family a year and a half before the story starts. She has a good relation with her aunt across the river from them and one of her cousins, but gets bullied by cousin Billy, and though her uncle Cal teaches her about shooting guns and hunting, that is not exactly a healthy relationship. Life gets complicated, and Billy ends up killing her father, when he thinks his father is in danger. Margo takes the boat her grandfather gave her and travels upriver and finds ways to survive.
Jaimy Gordon, a National Book Award winning author at Western, said it very well on the cover of the book: "A lot of us, not only women, were looking for a fictional heroine who would be deeply good, brave as a wolverine, never a crybaby, as able as Sacagawea, with a strong and unapologetic sexuality."
Turns out they were connected in previous lives and had to resolve what had happened those many years ago. This was the hardest part to listen to, as those times were so incomprehensible, and my blood just starts to boil when I hear what is done in the name of God. I understand that people were doing what they thought was right, but with the incredible damage they did to their fellow humans, I keep wondering about their karma in my view of the world - or even in theirs. I would like to think they burned in hell for their pious deeds, or spent many life times resolving their crimes against humanity.
I feel I have neglected my spirituality for a while, but then remember everything we do, every choice we make has some spiritual consequences. I once spent more time thinking about spirituality, about whether I am being the best person I can be. Seems that life has become so busy, that I have forgotten to take time to focus on that. I love to travel myself, and feel truly alive when traveling - each trip gives me the opportunity to grow and connect. I have lived a free flow life in many ways, and have found it mostly fulfilling, and this book made a lot of sense to me. As was written in the Amazon review: "Some books are read. Aleph is lived."
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
These two guys believe that the U.S. can be great once again, if it gets back to the ways that made it great - full of innovators, but those need a better education, a better infrastructure, more research, we need to get away from our dependence on oil from other countries (very strong focus on alternative energies and dealing with global warming), and straighten out politics (including revamping regulations - weeding old, impractical ones, strengthening others to control excesses), oh and immigration, since so much of what has been innovative in the U.S. has come from bright, hard working immigrants. I am not going back to the book or other reviews on purpose. I want to see what stuck in my mind.
A couple of surprising things - they explained that unions may shoot themselves in the foot and be the cause of jobs going overseas. They had a great example of a manufacturer in Buffalo, who is the oldest continual manufacturer in the city, and how the owners worked with the unions to make sure the jobs did stay local, but it was a lot of give and take from both sides. Having gone through our contract negotiations this summer ourselves, I am aware of some of the issues, and at times did not agree with the union's approach.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
New York City in 1938. Interesting setting and times. Katey, Eve, and Tinker are three friends that enjoy jazz clubs and hanging out. Katey and Eve work in low paying jobs available to females of the times, but aspire to more. Tinker moves in higher society circles. Katey is a really interesting character with a lot of drive and intelligence, working her way up, with a little help from friends.
The title comes from a book by George Washington, where he lists 110 Rules of Civility, which Tinker seems to be following. At the end, the author lists all 110. Some were just etiquette and manners issues, but others seemed more like ways to ingratiate yourself with upper classes. I wasn't quite sure why this offended Katey so much. I also happened to watch a movie that had this same theme of where people weren't quite what they said they were while I was reading the book, so it seemed a bit too coincidental.
I am tired, so I just grabbed a few kid's books to read. This one was very cute about a dog who did not have a sense of smell and who runs into a skunk. I totally remember the difficulty of getting skunk smell out of dog hair, and yes it took a lot of tomato juice.