Sunday, February 17, 2019

February 17, 2019 MORE THAN WORDS

I'm a GRAMMARIAN with a secret. Don't tell anyone --BUT--I've turned  into THE GRAMMAR POLICE. I can't help myself-- I'm constantly correcting  grammar. Okay--I only do it in my head right now. Give me a few years though --WHEN MY FILTER'S GONE--I'm gonna be in BIG trouble. I'll be in line at the grocery store explaining WHO and WHOM and get punched in the mouth. YUP. PPSSTT--I have another secret.  In addition to being a WICKED GRAMMARIAN--I've recently discovered that I'm also an EVIL ELOCUTIONIST. Don't laugh--this is a serious issue. Who'd have thunk--teaching the art of public speaking--would become so TWISTED.  I few weeks ago--I found myself listening to a presentation and getting hives because the woman kept--dropping her INGS. This might not seem like a big deal to a normal person--but to someone as warped as I am--EVERY DROP--was a stab in the heart. Seriously. I have MANY issues. I know there are MORE important THINGS in the world--but I'm all about SAVING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE--one ING at a time.
LookING for a good murder mystery?? Look no further than Stuart Turton's debut The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Here's the premise--Several distinguished guests are invited by Lord and Lady Hardcastle to Blackheath House for a Masquerade party. While at the party, Evelyn Hardcastle, daughter of the hosts, dies under mysterious circumstances. The odd thing is that Evelyn Hardcastle  dies every night at 11:00 p.m.--living the same day over and over and will continue to do so unless Aiden Bishop finds her killer. Here's the trick--He only has eight days to solve the murder and stop the cycle before it begins again. Another catch--Aiden wakes up each morning in the body of one of the eight witnesses to the murder. He keeps reliving the same day as one of the witnesses while he's searching for Evelyn's killer. Crazy. So far Aiden has been a socialite, professional gambler, banker, and butler. While inhabiting each body--he becomes that person on the outside and must deal with the good and bad of each witness too.  I'm half way through the book and can't put it down. It's like Agatha Christie meets Quantum Leap meets Groundhog Day. This 400 pager just melts away-- an 4 mile easy run. Can't wait to find out what happens next!










Saturday, February 9, 2019

February 9, 2019 I LET TIME GO LIGHTLY

We became friends by default. Seriously. We didn't have a choice. We had mutual friends. In all fairness-- They were HER friends LONG before they became mine. Lucky for me-- she didn't mind sharing. The more the merrier was her attitude--we could ALL go to the party. That was almost 40 years ago. Although our friendship ebbed and flowed over the years--the connection was solid--an invisible wire holding the four of us together no matter how far we strayed. Harry Chapin explained THIS connection  in his song I Let Time Go Lightly. He said,  "Old friends, they mean much more to me than the new ones......They can see where you are........And they know where you've been." That really sums it up well. Don't get me wrong-- I love all  my friends--but Old friends are different. They really know where you've been because they lived through it with you.  They've seen the GOOD--BAD--UGLY and--THANKFULLY-- decided to stick around. Although we physically have to say good bye to one of our dear old friends--she's still with us because the invisible wire is forever. It's been a privilege to be your friend.
I DO NOT want to end this post on a sad note because she wouldn't want me to. My friend was upbeat, selfless and determined. She NEVER complained but decided  to LIVE EVERY DAY in the NOW. Following her lead, we too shall soldier on. I can't think of a better way to do this than  to read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment. In this best selling book, Tolle not only breaks down the teachings of Buddha in order to make them more accessible, but he also presents an easy guide to achieving spiritual awareness. In order to accomplish this, Tolle believes that we NEED to let go of the EGO and the control that the MIND has over all of our thoughts and actions.  Tolle wants us to learn to live in the NOW.  Tolle believes that we all need to live each day-- bask in its glory--appreciate it fully like my dear friend did. When we are able to do this, Tolles believes that we will be at peace and live a more healthy life. I haven't read the entire book yet, but sincerely believe that Tolle's book is inspirational and can be life changing if you are ready for change and make the commitment to change. This self-help book is about 220 pages long--3 mile run--that's worth the read.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

February 2, 2019 SHAME. SHAME, SHAME

OMG. Our elected officials have once again SHAMED our Nation. Seriously--In a billion years-- Would you EVER think it was OKAY to dress in Blackface and THEN POSE  for a photograph next to someone dressed in a KKK outfit. It's disgusting and SO offensive on every level. It's a visual RACIST STATEMENT. He doesn't have to say a word. WE KNOW WHO HE IS. I ALWAYS tell me students-- People don't learn about you-- by what you SAY--its about how you ACT. ACTIONS ALWAYS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. It doesn't matter when the picture was taken. Racism is a LEARNED BEHAVIOR. It is NOT innate. We are not born knowing to judge someone by  the color or tone of their skin. The sad reality is that he learned it--probably from his family--and  the cycle of RACISM  continues on into 2019. When will it end--probably never--that's the SAD TRUTH. Racism is one kind of prejudice, but equally horrifying is the religious prejudice in Khushwant Singh's classic Train to Pakistan.  

Singh was definitely a Renaissance man. He was a lawyer, diplomat, journalist, politician and author of over forty books with Train to Pakistan his most famous. Set in 1947 in a small village in India called Mano Majra, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs had lived together as brothers for hundreds of years. Sadly, everything changed after the State of Pakistan was established. Because their village was so remote, the villagers managed to remain ignorant about what was happening in their country. Ten million Hindus-Muslims-Sikhs were being displaced, the new establishment pitted religion against religion and Northern India was in a state of terror.  One day, Mano Majra and its people were changed forever after the arrival of the ghost train. In it were thousands of dead refugees from the Civil War. In the blink of an eye--their peaceful town changed to one of paranoia and hate--brother against brother. Human nature and the instinct to survive  turned the most civilized men into beasts.  Find out about a very sad but true part of history when you read this 200 page-- 3 mile run--eye opening book for yourself.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

January 26, 2019 DON'T THINK I DON'T THINK ABOUT IT

 A day late and a dollar short--again. Yup. I'm talking about the dreaded New Year's Resolution. Don't think I don't think about it. I DO--BUT I keep changing my mind. So--instead of the N.Y.R. --I've decided to make a PLAN for 2019:

1) Run again--pain free--just for fun--that's my GOAL. Not going to worry about racing OR how many miles I run each week.  It's a waste of ENERGY. Went out for a little jaunt today and it felt--JUST OKAY--but being in the SUNSHINE WAS GLORIOUS.  Still felt the pain but it was more of a NUMB pain--probably from the cortisone shot.
2) Practice Ashtanga yoga at least TWICE a week. It is an INCREDIBLE experience of the MIND--BODY--BREATH.
3) Be Mindful--live in the moment. Not going to worry about tomorrow or next week. Another HUGE WASTE OF ENGERY.
4)Remind myself to be thankful EVERY DAY for--FAMILY--FRIENDS--HEALTH.
5)Practice Kindness--Kindness--Kindness. Smile--Smile--Smile. Life is too short.

See why I couldn't decide?? Too many things I need to work on this year. This is probably how the narrator of Jens Christian Grondahl's novel Silence in October  felt when his wife of eighteen years left him. The narrator of this gem is an art historian who lives in Copenhagen with his wife Astrid. He wakes up one morning and his wife announces that she is leaving. So begins this dialogue free story. The narrator spends the whole of this beautifully written book examining the last eighteen years of his life--marriage--kids--empty nest. He struggles with many of the mistakes he's made and then wonders whether his wife has done the same. This is an introspection of the demise of a marriage.  The narrator wrestles  with many notions associated with married life. A few that stick out in my mind--Can two people live together for 18 years and really not know each other?? Did they originally know each other and lose each other along the way?? If I knew the answer to most of the questions the narrator struggled with I'd probably be a millionaire and have my own talk show.  His concerns are valid and the issues are real-- for any long married couple. This dense book is about 300 pages or a 6 mile run that will definitely hit the mark if you have been married for many years. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

January 20, 2019 WHEN I'M SIXTY-FOUR

Remember when you thought 50 was REALLY OLD???? Seriously--when I was a kid--I thought that was ANCIENT. Okay maybe not ANCIENT but someone --THAT AGE-- certainly had one foot in the grave. They'd certainly be Pushing up Daisies SOON!!  It just seemed SO DAMN OLD TO ME.  I've obviously had to rethink those CRAZY NOTIONS-- trade them in-- for some that work in my favor--NOW THAT I'M 54. That's right--THE BIG F-I-V-E-F-O-U-R. Today I'm thinking--Fifty is the NEW Thirty. That works for me--SORT OF-- if I color my hair every 5 weeks, exercise religiously and wear expensive clothes. I'll also take--Age is ONLY a Number. That really covers a HUGE area right?? It's general--vague and positive. Seriously-- There's a quip out there designed to make anyone feel better about AGING. One of my all time favorites would have to be--I'm NOT getting older--I'm getting better. OKAY REALLY??  I guess I can talk myself into that too.  I'd like to use the old stand by--I'm NOT Older-Just Wiser-- but NOT sure that's the case as I keep doing the some dumb things. I'll have to SCRATCH that one and go with--WOMEN AGE LIKE FINE WINE instead.  Happy Bday to me.
Willa Drake, the main character in Anne Tyler's new book Clock Dance,  has reached a certain age too--when she decides to set her life on a new path.
Willa and her husband Peter have recently retired and moved to Arizona. While Peter is happy with the move, Willa feels lost and unfulfilled. One day she receives a phone call from a stranger that ultimately changes her life. The stranger asks Willa to come to Baltimore to take care of her son's ex-girlfriend's young daughter Cheryl.  Although this is out of character for Willa, she decides to fly to Baltimore for a few days to help out and possibly visit with  her son while she is in town. This impulsive decision is the springboard that changes Willa's life. After arriving in Baltimore, Willa meets the neighbor who called her and then moves in with Cheryl to take care of her while her mom is in the hospital. Cheryl lives in a lower-class neighborhood surrounded by quirky, kind-hearted people who look out for each other. They inadvertently  challenge many of Willa's long held notions and make her question some of the choices she's made in her life. You will have to pick up a copy of this fine novel yourself if you want to find out what happens to Willa, Peter, Cheryl and the neighbors. This 300 page book--4 mile run--is by a Pulitzer Prize winning  author and  does not disappoint. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 16, 2019 WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING


Funny story. My eleven year old came home from school the other day with some homework. He had to write about traditions in our family related to our ethnicity. He then said that he complained to his teacher because he didn't think our family had any traditions other than--DRINKING IRISH COFFEE. I almost fell over laughing. From the mouths of babes right?? I ALMOST added-- We also drink Luksusowa Vodka--to honor our Polish ancestors --but I refrained. After some DEEP THOUGHT--I came up with a few traditions that don't involve ALCOHOL--but the next best thing--FOOD. So our 'CLEANER' version of traditions includes--Corn beef & Cabbage--for the Irish. Linguica Sausage for the Portugese--mixed with a little Kielbasa & Peppers--for the Polish. To round out the meal--a side of Matzoh Ball soup for the Russian Jews. I think we have it all covered.  Spent the entire week eating Matzoh Ball Soup--with a side of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Yup--keeping the tradition alive.
Libraries are celebrated institutions with a tradition of adapting in an ever-changing world. This and many other themes are explored in Susan Orlean's newest work of nonfiction The Library Book. Orlean's book is a combination of many things. It's part an investigation into the Los Angeles Public Library fire in 1986. It is also part mystery as Orlean reinvestigates the fire-- and the main suspect Harry Peak  It is also  part history as Orlean explores the idea of the library and librarians and how their roles have grown and changed over the years to meet the needs of the community. It is also a tribute to books and reading. This is a book for anyone who loves libraries and is interested in the history of the library. It is also for people who  love books and feel most comfortable surrounded by them. This beautifully written, well- researched book  reminded me that libraries and public spaces are vital. They keep us connected as a community, especially, in our technologically driven world. This important book is about 336 pages or a 5 mile run that is invaluable to any book lover.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

January 12, 2019 VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR

WHY IS EVERYTHING SO COMPLICATED??? All I wanted to do was get rid of some message that kept popping up EVERY time I started my car. OKAY. I tried to follow the rules. I LOOKED at the 4 different manuals that came with my car. DIDN'T UNDERSTAND A DAMN THING. Told myself it couldn't be that hard. SO--I started pushing buttons.  CAR SETTINGS--sounded good. So I hit the OKAY button--which then led me to  something about a RESET. That sounded good to me???  I really should have stopped to read the FINE PRINT--but I get VERY IMPATIENT with technology.  In my TINY SIMPLE mind--I thought that if I hit RESET-- that STUPID MESSAGE would STOP-- and that was a good thing--RIGHT??  Little did I know that by hitting--RESET--  EVERY SETTING would go back to the--MANUFACTURER SETTINGS-- Whatever that meant. To add insult to injury-- THAT STUPID MESSAGE IS STILL SHOWING UP EVERY TIME I START MY CAR. The only thing WORSE than hitting the RESET BUTTON WAS HAVING TO ASK MY HUSBAND FOR HELP--He already rolls his eyes--EVERY time I ask which of the 4  REMOTE CONTROLS I should use to change the channel. By the time this debacle  gets sorted out, I'm gonna need a reboot--maybe a little TLC --at a health resort like Nine Perfect Strangers did in Liane Moriarty's new novel.
Moriarty's latest book is the perfect blend of quirky characters, intrigue and suspense. Here's the premise. Nine people, who are all at different points in their lives, have decided they need a break. They pay a pretty penny for a ten day stay at this posh posh health resort named Tranquillum House in Sydney, Australia. Frances Welty, a fifty-three year old best-selling romance novelist,  is nursing a broken heart and ego. The Marconi family is dealing with bereavement, while Tony, a former NFL football start is dealing with ageing and the decisions he's made in life. I personally found Jessica and Ben pretty interesting. They are a young couple who won the lottery--but lost themselves in the process. The question becomes--is Tranquillun House and its owner/director Masha all she seems to be or is she up to something?? Don't want to say anything else because I don't want to spoil the fun except that there are many twist and turns that you will definitely enjoy. This great read is about 450 pages or an easy 5mile run. It's a real page turner that you will not be able to put down. Enjoy!