Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Things are happening and Malarkey is not one of them

I would have completely taken the week off without mentioning it because we were going to Tulsa and I didn't have time to put up a Monday Malarkey post or pre-post any reviews but then I ended up staying behind because Isabel was (and is) sick. I've mentioned this everywhere I can think of, so I'll say it again . . .


Don't let your cat eat even a small amount of avocado. The pits are toxic. Thankfully, Isabel did not chew on a pit. But, she did lick a mostly-empty salad bowl that had remnants of avocado flesh and that was enough to cause her so much pain she could hardly walk. She ate the bits of avocado on Thursday night. Friday morning, she was moving verrrry slowly and her tail was down. I could tell she had a bellyache and figured it must be the avocado. I didn't catch her licking my bowl till it was too late.

Isabel got an antibiotic because there's a chemical in avocado that throws off the gut flora and a shot to soothe her tummy. It helped and she was all full of affection on Friday night. Saturday, she was back in pain and I had commencement in Oxford (son is not officially graduating till after the summer session but he wanted to go to his graduation ceremony) and then we came back and I had a whopping half hour to close my eyes before going to Paint Night with Brittanie. The next day, we hopped in the car and drove to Meridian, MS, to meet up with Marg (it was a great weekend for meeting up with blog buddies!) and we decided it was too late to go get her an after-hours shot when we returned but clearly her tummy ache was back. So, back I went to the vet, yesterday, while Husband went to Tulsa without me. If she's still hurting tomorrow, she'll get a third shot. But, she's slowly improving and she's eating and drinking.

So, no Malarkey. And, I've decided to go ahead and make this a staycation. 

When I realized there was no way I could possibly go to Tulsa (even though Kiddo is here, I figured he'd be spending most of his time with his future wife, which he is) I wrote up a big ol' list and I'm going to make this a week for chores and reading. I'll be back for Malarkey, next Monday. And, hopefully I'll have good news to report about Isabel. It's been awful seeing her so miserable. Most of my cat-loving friends on Facebook were unaware that avocado is dangerous to cats. There were two exceptions. One lost a kitten after he ate avocado (the flesh, not the pit), so clearly even the flesh can be deadly.

Off to do chores and read. Wishing everyone a happy week!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fiona Friday - Fresh laundry

Part of the laundry already folded itself up (and went to sleep).

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway and No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

Since I screwed up and made my On Democracy post so lengthy, I'm going to double up and keep these two reviews short. Both are children's books and I presume they're for around the same age range but No Flying in the House may skew a bit younger.

Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway is the story of 12-year-old Cady. Cady's father has been arrested and she has to stay with her Aunt Chelle while he's in jail. Chelle owns a pie ship that isn't doing well. She lives in a small, tourist town with several pie shops and she only sells two flavors. Cady wants to help salvage the pie shop. But, first Aunt Chelle insists that Cady must learn how to make the perfect pie and the best way to do that is with practice. She tells Cady that she must bake 1,000 pies. Cady sets to work and while she's practicing and learning, she experiments with different flavors. Cady thinks part of the reason Aunt Chelle's shop isn't doing all that well has to do with their limited offerings so she's determined to find some unique flavors and convince Aunt Chelle to sell them. When she's not at the pie shop she's getting to know the town and making friends. When things go terribly wrong and Cady's afraid she may return to being homeless, can she and her new friends come up with a plan to save the pie shop?

Recommended - I was unsure about Summer of a Thousand Pies, at first. Middle grade books don't always interest me as much as I hope they will and it seemed fairly bland, at first. But I'm glad I stuck it out. There are some timely themes including homelessness and how traumatizing it can be for a child and the broken immigration system. Cady also has the challenge of learning how to forgive the people in her life who have let her down. Aunt Chelle is LGBT but her partnership is presented in a very matter-of-fact way, not as a problematic element, which I liked. There are also recipes in the book — always a plus!

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock is an older title, originally published in 1970. I bought a copy of it when I saw a photo of one woman's favorite childhood books. I'm actually quite surprised that I've never heard of it because I would have been the right age for it a year or two after publication and books starring little girls with special abilities (or magical cats – both for obvious reasons) were among my favorites. But, nope, I'd never heard of it.

Annabel Tippens has a strange guardian, a 3" dog named Gloria. When Gloria shows up at a wealthy woman's home and asks to live with her, she doesn't admit to the fact that she's caretaker for a little girl until the woman says yes. When Annabel finds out she's half fairy, she makes a nuisance of herself by trying to learn how to fly. My favorite passage:

"If I were a fairy, I'd be able to fly, wouldn't I?" Annabel asked Miss Peach one day. 
"In my opinion," said Miss Peach, "that's the best part of being a fairy."
"Would I need wings?"
"Not necessarily," said Miss Peach. "But wings would undoubtedly help."
After that, when no one was looking, Annabel practiced flying. She started by jumping off the terrace. 

That cracked me up.

Recommended for little girls - I am absolutely certain I would have loved this book if I'd found it when I was in the right age range. Unfortunately, I found it a little too silly. Gettin' old. But, I'll find a happy new home for it.

I bought both of these books and will either donate them or pass them on to my granddaughters.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

On Democracy by E. B. White, ed. by Martha White

Treason is too narrowly interpreted to suit us. Our courts call it treason when a restaurant-keeper helps a German flier to escape, but nobody calls it treason when a congressman helps a touchy issue to escape "until after the elections are over." We hang a man for the first kind of treason; we reelect a man for the second. 

[...] It is not only treacherous to help the enemy by postponing questions which involve the lives of all of us but it is the greatest insult which can be offered to the electorate of a democracy. When you hear it announced that such-and-such an issue cannot be raised now because it is "political dynamite," the implication is that you yourself are mixed up in a cheap trick perpetrated by one section of the people on another section.

~from pp. 39-40 "Treason, Defined"(originally published in 1942) in Advance Reader Copy of On Democracy by E. B. White

One of my all-time favorite pieces of writing in the world is by E. B. White, a tribute to Pullman cars (railroad sleeping cars) in a book of essays published some time in the 1940s. It's a lovely, moving, brilliant piece of writing. So, I figured White probably had some wise and wonderful things to say about democracy and jumped at the chance to read and review On Democracy, a book of his essays and a handful of rhyme-heavy poetry.

I was correct. There's plenty of wisdom in On Democracy. But, it is also an excellent showcase for White's wit and humor and a reminder that America has survived similar attempts to attack truth and the rule of law to what we're currently experiencing, although I confess that I didn't find the fact that such attacks eventually failed all that soothing because we now have so many huge issues to address. Among them: potential human extinction being ignored and/or suppressed by an entire administration, massive voter suppression, newly-created poll taxes, refusal to address a foreign attack on our voting system (machines that can be easily compromised and which contain no paper backup are being bought by states at an alarming rate), and a political party that talks big about transparency whilst going out of its way to hide absolutely everything that may or may not say something untoward has been done by them while declaring investigations (which they themselves recently drove into the ground with at least 7 investigations that proved absolutely nothing bad about the same exact issue) pointless and partisan. These are huge challenges.

With the fate of humanity on the line the stakes, it can be said, are much higher. Still, it's heartening to know that there have been times in the past when newspapers were being heavily bought out by a single purchaser who pushed his political slant on the reportage, corruption has run rampant, and executives in government have attempted to hide documents important to the public.

A few quotes from the book:

Fascism is openly against people-in-general, in favor of people-in-particular. Nationalism, although in theory not dedicated to such an idea, actually works against people-in-general because of its preoccupation with people-in-particular. 

~p. 45, "Definition of Fascism," published 1943

When you think with longing of the place where you were born, remember that the sun leaves it daily to go somewhere else. When you think with love of America, think of the impurity of its bloodlines and of how no American ever won a prize in a dog show. 


Save the world by respecting thy neighbor's rights under law and insisting that he respect yours (under the same law).

~pp. 60-61, "Instructions to the Delegate," published 1946

There's not much news to report. Roger and Evelyn had a baby girl a couple of weeks ago, and Roger is supporting it by working for a magazine called Holiday, a travel publication based on the perfectly sound idea that everybody in the United States would like to be somewhere else. 

~p. 80, Herald Tribune ("Hollywood Ten" letters), published 1948

Misinformation, even when it is not deliberate, is at the bottom of much human misery. 

~p. 95, "The Thud of Ideas," published 1950

Some of the published news was distorted, but distortion is inherent in partisan journalism, the same as it is in political rallies. I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or nonpolitical, that doesn't have a slant. All writing slants the way a writer leans, and no man is born perpendicular, although many men are born upright. The beauty of the American free press is that the slants and the twists and the distortions come from so many directions, and the special interests are so numerous, the reader must sift and sort and check and countercheck in order to find out what the score is.

~p. 121, "Bedfellows," published 1956

[Editorial insert: In our modern world of brief sound bites, I'd be willing to hazard a guess that less than a quarter of the American population takes the time to "sift and sort and check and countercheck" as readers of the 1950s may have done, hence the creation of the term "echo chamber."]

The Herald Tribune headed the story, "PRESIDENT SAYS PRAYER IS PART OF DEMOCRACY." The implication in such a pronouncement, emanating from the seat of government, is that religious faith is a condition, or even a precondition, of the democratic life. This is just wrong. A President should pray whenever and wherever he feels like it (most Presidents have prayed hard and long, and some of them in desperation and in agony), but I don't think a President should advertise prayer. That is a different thing. Democracy, if I understand it at all, is a society in which the unbeliever feels undisturbed and at home. If there were only a half a dozen unbelievers in America, their well-being would be a test of our democracy, their tranquility would be its proof.

~p. 124, "Bedfellows," published 1956

Highly recommended - While not exactly what I expected (heavier on the wit and humor than I anticipated), E. B. White was a brilliant writer whose thoughts on democracy were at once light-hearted and serious, penetrating and cogent. I was fascinated by the fact that White was hell-bent against the formation of what was then known as the "United Nations Organization" because he feared a world government would trample on the rights of individual nations to create and execute their own laws.

The essays/poetry span a significant time period, from 1928-1976, so there's a lot of ebb and flow from war to peace and back, through presidencies left and right, in and out of corruption, through arrests for speech we would now consider protected and threats to the press and university professors, and spanning other challenges to democracy. I recommend it to anyone interested in solid writing, politics, essays, history, and/or the topic of democracy in tumultuous times. Apparently, there have not been very many stretches without some form of upheaval. It does give one hope but also serves as a reminder that in order to maintain genuine hope, the requirement for action on the part of the populace is axiomatic.

My thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Far Flung by Cassandra Kircher

The full title of Far Flung by Cassandra Kircher is Far Flung: Improvisations on National Parks, Driving to Russia, Not Marrying a Ranger, The Language of Heartbreak, and Other National Disasters. Boy, that's a mouthful, isn't it?

So, I'll just drop the subtitle for the rest of this review. Far Flung is an exceptional series of essays set in a variety of locations, most of which deal with how nature had an impact on the author's life and her acceptance and understanding of herself and her family (particularly her difficult, emotional father). Settings include Wisconsin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Alaska, and Oxford, England.

I think anyone who loves camping, climbing, or otherwise challenging his or herself outdoors will especially love Far Flung, although I'm someone who desires to be outdoors more than I'm able (thanks to allergies and heat-induced migraines). I was particularly enamored with the settings. Rocky Mountain National Park is where I spent roughly half of my childhood vacations and, in fact, my great uncle was one of the people who died in the Big Thompson Canyon Flood, which Kircher mentions, so her essays set in RMNP really took me back and were particular favorites. And, I've been to most of the other settings, so there was a little bit of a cool factor there, as well. But, it would not have mattered one bit where she the writings were set because Kircher's writing is so incredibly strong that I would have been blown away, regardless. It just happens that I could relate to some of the locations.

Highly recommended, a new favorite - Deeply meaningful, muscular but subtle. Absolutely fabulous, mesmerizing writing. I hated for this book to end. I particularly recommend Far Flung to anyone who loves travel writing, essays, or memoirs. But, just read it if you love fantastic writing. One of my favorite reads of 2019, so far. I feel like I can't do this one justice.

I was one of the lucky people who won a copy of Far Flung via a Shelf Awareness drawing. My thanks to West Virginia University Press! I'll be looking to see what else you have to offer.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals: (top to bottom)

  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith,
  • Earth to Charlie by Justin Olson, and
  • The Mueller Report, publ. by The Washington Post, all purchased
  • How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper - from Penguin Random House for review

I ordered 100 Sideways Miles a while ago (from Book Depository) on one of those days that I was thinking about the books I've wanted to buy but put on the back burner. I'd already forgotten about it, so it was a pleasant surprise when it arrived. Earth to Charlie, was an impulse purchase that I looked up when David Abrams (author of Fobbit) wrote about reading it. It sounded right up my alley and I've had a terrible time not diving into it immediately, but I fell behind on my ARC reading so it'll just have to wait. The Mueller Report . . . I started reading that on my phone (you can read it online for free) and within 14 pages two things had happened: 

a) My eyes were screaming. I hate reading electronically also, so I decided I was going to have to either print it out and have it spiral-bound or buy a copy. I don't know where to have things spiral bound, locally, so I opted for the latter. 

b) I'd decided Trump is much guiltier than I realized of accepting Russian help. I thought accepting help from foreign governments was illegal and that aid (money spent on ads, etc.) is considered in-kind donation or something like that? I'm confused. But, anyway, I bought a copy so I can read it at my leisure, mark it up, and be able to respond with knowledge and insight if anyone tries to tell me the investigation was a crock. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • On Democracy by E. B. White
  • Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

On Democracy is a book of E. B. White's essays and poetry, often with oblique yet relevant references to democracy, that span the years 1928-1976. Summer of a Thousand Pies is a middle grade book that includes recipes (pie, cake, frosting). I enjoyed both.

Currently reading

  • Last Day by Domenica Ruta
  • The Unspeakable Mind by Shaili Jain
  • The Free Speech Century by Stone and Bollinger

I'm thinking about adding Inspired by Rachel Held Evans to that list, but not sure if I'm ready to read her writing so soon after her death. We'll see. Last Day is an interesting idea — once a year, everyone celebrates in anticipation of the end of the Earth, which keeps not arriving (till it does, I think, but I haven't gotten there, obviously). Yesterday, I got to a surprisingly glaring error in the book that means I'll have to check a finished copy or connect with a publicist to see if it's been fixed. The Unspeakable Mind (about PTSD) opens with a story about how PTSD effected a former soldier and it was so gripping I hated to put the book down but it was time for bed so I've only read that intro story. I hope the rest of the book is equally fascinating.

And, The Free Speech Century is that book, the one I've been working on for 4 months and only occasionally mention. Some of the essays contain more legalese than others and are harder to read but you should see how many flags I've got in that book. Seriously, I should have found a highlighting pen instead of wasting so many flags! I'm at the point that I feel like, "OK, I've been reading this for too long. Time to wrap it up." It will still be slow going but I'm 2/3 of the way through, now, so the end is in sight.

Posts since last Malarkey:

I didn't realize I only wrote one review, last week! I remember not feeling much like writing for a couple days, though. I guess a couple of days is a good portion of the week when you only post 5 days a week. Hopefully, this will be a better reviewing week but I'll probably keep the reviews short because I'm a little swamped with chores, this week.

In other news:

I guess you could say it was almost an anti-computer week. I didn't post much, spent most of my online time on the phone, but even had a couple days off from that when a new phone arrived, and then I shut the computer down and unplugged it for Saturday morning storms and didn't plug the computer back in till this morning. That means I didn't get my browser changed from Safari to whatever – probably Chrome — but Huz is home, this week, so maybe he can help me accomplish that in the evening. Most of my commenters are people I can track down elsewhere, so I've started going to other blogs or Facebook, etc., to reply to people who comment. That makes me feel better about being unable to comment directly at the blog.

In TV news, I'm still watching Star Trek: The Original Series, but I think I've only watched 3 episodes. That's because I usually watch a little bit whenever I'm sitting down with a meal and then I stop the episode and continue it the next time I have a few minutes to watch. We finished the second season of The Royal, this week. And, we watched the last 20 minutes or so of O, Brother, Where Art Thou? while I was crying about the news that Rachel Held Evans had died and it helped a little, since the movie is so funny.

After OBWAT, we watched Paris, Wine, and Romance on the Hallmark Channel. I have a feeling Huzzybuns was being kind because he knew I'd been avidly watching the updates about Rachel's health and was so hoping she'd recover. A good, goofy romance movie always helps soften bad news. I read up a little on the movie and the actors, after, because I noticed the heroine looked slightly pregnant and kept holding a coat or purse in front of her belly. I was interested to find out that they filmed their scene in front of Notre Dame just a week-and-a-half before it burned. And, yes, the actress is expecting. Cool.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Fiona Friday - Sunbeam

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.