Monday, October 30, 2017

The Grand Book Club

The Town of Franklin’s library director, Dr. Felicia Oti, gave me an idea. She mentioned that she and her daughter have their own mother/daughter book club, so why can’t I have a book club with my grandchildren?

I’m calling it the Grand Book Club.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New Region One Council

The Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic in Saint Joseph's Province elected a new council, in Region One.  Here are the offices, from left to right: Cosette Hyman is Provincial President, Joan Cuomo is Region Secretary, Louise Fahey is Region Vice President, Kathy Kendrick is Region President, Roman Gorski is the outgoing President and Faith Flaherty is the Regional Treasurer and Alternate Delegate.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Poetry Success

Horace Mann Middle School Principal, Rebecca Motte

Guilt trips, twisting arms, calling in "I owe you's", advertising or whatever, worked.  My Favorite Poetry Project was a huge success.  All my readers showed up and were wonderful.  Better--the audience was overflowing.  I, as moderator, was facing the audience and I couldn't get over the attention the people had, even the sixth-grade students.

Afterwards, I was in the library to just kill time until the time for my "writers' group, the Senior Scribblers, and I could hear people in the hall discussing the event.  Praises were sung!  Everyone loved it.  The favorite seemed to be the sixth graders reciting Maya Angelou's Caged Bird.  And no wonder they were a hit.  They recited, not read their poem.  It didn't hurt that they were cute, either. Two teachers were there and they recited, too. Everyone else read theirs.  All were excellent.

The last person to read was Principal Rebecca Motte from the aforementioned school of sixth graders.  Her poem was I Am by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. 

I know not whence I came, 
I know not whither I go; 
But the fact stands clear that I am here
In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and the murk
Another truth shines plain –
It is my power each day and hour
To add to its joy or its pain.

Apropos, is it not?  More than her poem being a concluding statement, it was her introduction that remains with me.  She pointed out how interconnected this community of Franklin, MA is.  Here at the Senior Center, we had representatives from the Middle School, the High School, Dean College, Municipal Government and the local citizenry.  All the entities have frequently invited each other for other events.  Last Monday, for example, the Senior Center was invited to participate in a sociology class at Dean College.  Seniors have also taken courses at the college.  Middle School students come to help us seniors with technology needs.  There is so much more.  This is what community is and I am so blessed to have been a part of it today.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Britt-Marie

It's amazing to me how translations can be popular.  I always thought a lot was lost in the translation.  But Fredrik Backman's novels are very successful here.  He writes in Sweedish.  I've read three of his novels: A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry, and a sequel to My Grandmother...., Britt-Marie was Here.  I just finish Britt-Marie.

All of Backman's novels begin with an odd, grouchy character.  I would never continue reading except that these books were all picks from Argonauta, my book club.  So I push myself -- to a certain extent.  But there were times I just gave up and announced at the club that I just couldn't get into it.  Not so with Backman.  I reach a point that I'm hooked.  And then I can't put the book down.  It happened just like that with Britt-Marie was Here.

She's a weirdo.  I guess you could say she was obsessive compulsive. She cleans compulsively (I need someone like her.)  Her husband cheats and they split.  Britt-Marie goes to an employment agency because she's been a housewife and really has no marketable employment skills.  She ends up managing a recreation center.  It turns out that the center is essentially closed and is located in a sleepy (and that's a kind description) little village.  Hardly anyone lives there except losers (modern society definition of people who aren't employed gainfully).

Each character is odder than the other.  Somehow Britt-Marie ends up being a soccer coach even though she knows nothing about the game.  She is assisted by a blind person.  Britt-Marie learns.  I learned.  All readers will learn not only about soccer, but the thrill of the game.

The husband comes back.  It just maybe too late for him because there's a policeman in the town that has taken a shine to Britt-Marie.  Everyone ends up liking Britt-Marie, especially the reader.

Good book.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Walking Through Walls


In with my "cloistered brothers," today, we were discussing Timothy Radcliffe's I Call You Friends.  Radcliffe was writing about missionaries, but were thinking more along the lines of "preachers."  Not that missionaries aren't preachers, it's just that in my "cloistered brothers"' situation, they can't go out to be missionaries.  Yes, they are missionaries in a dark place, but they think preachers is more apt.

Anyway, back to my point.  Radcliffe asks "to whom are missionaries sent..."?  Today, he continues, "missionaries are sent not only to foreign lands but to everybody who is not like us."Those evangelizing on social media are missionaries.  Those writing books.  Those teaching in schools.

You get the idea?

Everybody who is not like us.

Radcliffe refers to Ephesians 1:10.  ...And this his good pleasure he proposed in him, to be dispensed in the fullness of the times; to re-establish all things in Christ...

So my "cloistered brothers" have a job to do.  They or rather, "we" always knew that.  But what I didn't realize was that by my ministering to my "cloistered brothers," I was bringing the outside world to them, besides Christ.  I walk through the wall dividing the outside from the inside.  I bring the things in heaven and in earth to them.  That's the purpose Christ set forth as a plan for the fullness of the times.

Friday, October 20, 2017

My Big Fat Poetry Reading

Franklin, MA Senior Center

FIVE MORE DAYS!  In five more days, on October 25, 2017, My Favorite Poem Project will happen.  Here's the line-up of readers.  The order is alphabetical according to the poet.

A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou, read by Dr. Dawn Poirier, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Dean College
Caged Bird by Maya Angelou, read by students in Horace Mann’s sixth grade
The Lanyard by Billy Collins, read by Franklin Library Director, Dr. Felicia Oti
Poem 341 Hope Is A Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson, read by Horance Mann teacher, Noreen Langmeyer
The Calf Path by Sam Foss, read by our Town Administrator, Jeff Nutting
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, read by Franklin Cable TV, Ken Norman
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, read by Jeffrey Roy our State Representative  
Democracy by Langston Hughes, read by Horace Mann teacher, Joe Corey  
Go Down Death, by James Weldon Johnson, read by Senior Scribbler, Clarice Cargill
Untitled—by Barbara Karmelin, read by Senior Scribbler, Barbara Karmelin
If, by Rudyard Kipling, read by Jean Burke of the Norfolk Quill Writers’ Group
Mother Earth’s Hair by Charmagne Laprise, read by Senior Scribbler, Charmagne Laprise
If Only We Were Taller by Ray Bradbury, read by the Editor for the Country Gazette and Wicked Local Franklin, Heather Swails-McCarron
Mr. Macklin’s Jack O’Lantern  by David McCord, read by Faith Flaherty
Sleeping in the Forest by Mary Oliver, read by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Sara Ahern
The Story of the Christmas Guest by Helen Steiner Rice, read by the President of Franklin Interfaith Council, Georgia Sander
Sick by Shel Silverstein, read by Franklin High School Principal, Paul Peri

I Am by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, read by Horace Mann Principal, Rebecca Motte

That is essentially the program.  On the back of the program is this quote.  Jeffrey Roy, my state representative suggested the idea. 


Less than a month before his assignation, on October 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was giving a speech at the ground breaking ceremony for the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College.   His speech didn’t deal with foreign or domestic policy or any politics, at all.  Instead, it recognized the vital role the poet plays in a free society.  It is well worth your quiet reflection. 
…Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs and controls our strength matters just as much. This was the special significance of Robert Frost. He brought an unsparing instinct for reality to bear on the platitudes and pieties of society. His sense of the human tragedy fortified him against self-deception and easy consolation. "I have been," he wrote, "one acquainted with the night." And because he knew the midnight as well as the high noon, because he understood the ordeal as well as the triumph of the human spirit, he gave his age strength with which to overcome despair. At bottom, he held a deep faith in the spirit of man, and it's hardly an accident that Robert Frost coupled poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment. The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, a lover's quarrel with the world… in retrospect, we see how the artist's fidelity has strengthened the fiber of our national life. If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist… 



What do you think?


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Flattery

In Matt 22:15-21, I was reminded of an Aesop Fable I was reading to my granddaughter.  The scripture verse was The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.  They sent their disciples to him with the Horodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status..."
    Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "why are you testing me, you hypocrites? ..."

The Pharisees flattered Jesus telling Him that they knew He was truthful.  But their flattery was obvious.  Jesus knows their hearts and called them hypocrites!

Aesop has a fable about a sly fox and a bird.  The bird had a big yummy cube of cheese in its beak.  The fox wanted it.  So the fox flattered the bird.  "I heard that you had the most beautiful voice in the forest."  The bird was a fool and fell for the flattery.  He opened his beak to sing and in doing that the cube of cheese fell out and down into the mouth of the fox.  This time flattery worked.

Don't be susceptible to flattery.  Be suspicious of anyone flattering you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dying to be Beautiful

A while ago, I received a gift.  It was the novel, Dying To Be Beautiful by M. Glenda Rosen.  It's been sitting in my kindle waiting for me to be sitting in a waiting room.  Finally, while waiting for a train, and while riding on the aforementioned train, and coming back, I read the book.  I liked it enough to finish reading it, at home. 

It seems Dying To Beautiful is the name of a mystery series.  The novel I read was "Fake Beauty." In this mystery, Jenna and her boyfriend, Troy, solve the murder of a designer found stuffed into his own creation--a dress that was too small for his fat body.  Then there's another murder.  Follow the money and you solve the crime.  But in so doing, you enter the fashionable world of the Hamptons and the glamorous people who live there.

This book and the series are the type of easy reads some people like to follow, one novel after another.  Hence, the Dying To Be Beautiful series is attractive.  In this particular book, I admit I didn't know who the designer was modeled after. But Jenna is Sherlock Holmes and she even has a Watson--her Irish Setter.  I'll pass the book on to a mystery lover.








Sunday, October 15, 2017

De Porres Connection

Today I was admiring a statue of St. Martin de Porres.  An acquaintance came over to me and told me the story of the statue.  Essentially, she rescued it from a yard.  The owner offered it to her and she snatched it up.  She had it repainted.


So I told her my story about a statue of St. Martin de Porres.  Once upon a time, I wasn't a Lay Dominican.  I don't think I even knew there was such an organization as the Order of Preachers, never mind that St. Martin de Porres was a famous member of the Order.

I was teaching in a parochial school.  I was team teaching with a religious sister.  I don't remember what religious order she belonged to.  That fact alone, tells you how ignorant I was of things religious.  Every day, my class and I prayed a rosary.  We used a statue of a "black Madonna" for inspiration.  One day, Sister and I were talking and I happened to mention the statue in my classroom of the "black Madonna."

"What black Madonna?"  Sister asked.

"That one."  I pointed.

Sister laughed...and laughed...and laughed....
"That's not Mary. That's St. Martin de Porres!"  And she couldn't stop laughing.

I was very, very embarrassed.  Here I was teaching at a Catholic school and I had never heard of St. Martin de Porres and couldn't tell him from Mary!  "Well." I said. " Why is he wearing a dress?"

Sister laughed even more! !!!!!!  "That's a Dominican habit!"

I  was too humiliated to ask what a Dominican was, nevermind a habit!

But just look at me know.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Nota Bene: This is Fiction


It’s the 1980’s and we have a president with no political experience.  (Nota Bene: 1980) Winter Warning by Jerome Charyn is about a cop who becomes president.  The president’s advisors and even other world leaders are expecting him to fail.  There’s a lottery betting on his demise.  And I don’t mean his resigning from the presidency; I mean his being assassinated.  (Again, nota bene: this is 1980’s.)

I don’t know if there is a lottery in place for how long our current president, Donald Trump, will last, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were.  But that’s the end of the similarities between Isaac Sidel and Donald Trump,i.e., lack of experience and not expecting him to succeed.  Charyn’s Sidel is a president with a glock in his pants.  He was a cop, is still a cop, and always will be a cop, because he thinks like one.  It’s a good thing, too.  He can’t trust anyone and he has to be alert to deflect physical danger besides the dirty machinations of political maneuvering.

The story begins with the president being under surveillance.  He is shuffled into rooms that have more bugs than a greasy spoon on a truck route.  His chief of staff, Ramona Dazzle hates him and reigns from a palatial suite in the white house.  Poor Sidel finds a room once relegated as a beauty parlor--his only safe refuge. 

Surprisingly, the people he can rely on are a former Israeli official and a Russian tattoo artist, who is a Russian mobster.  He has two close friends: his helicopter pilot and a naval officer.   Everything he does and says is misconstrued. 

The characters are my favorite part of this book.  I love the way the author draws them.  They’re perfect for their role.  If this story is made into a movie, the makeup people will be in demand.  What characters!

I love Charyn’s innovative style.  This is my first Isaac Sidel novel.  Evidently, this book is the conclusion of the Isaac Sidel series. The other Isaac Sidel novels are when he was a New York cop.  I enjoyed Winter Warning so much, that I definitely am going to look up the rest of the series. 
I received this book for free to write a review.  But my opinion is that this is an enjoyable read.  I am happy I received it.
***

Jerome Charyn's Web Site:
http://www.jeromecharyn.com/

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/jerome.charyn?fref=ts

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:
http://twitter.com/jeromecharyn

Isaac Sidel Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/IsaacSidel/

Isaac Sidel Twitter:
http://twitter.com/IsaacSidel

Jerome Charyn's Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/53408.Jerome_Charyn

Winter Warning Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34445219-winter-warning?from_search=true

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

Winter Warning
 blog tour site:

https://winterwarningblogtour.blogspot.com/

Jerome Charyn's Bio:

Jerome Charyn published his first novel in 1964. He's the author of Johnny One-Eye, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham, and dozens of other acclaimed novels as well as nonfiction works. His short stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, American Scholar, Epoch, and Ellery Queen. Charyn's popular crime novels featuring homicide detective Isaac Sidel inspired a new animated drama series: Hard Apple debuts on the small screen in 2017, helmed by Hollywood insider James Gray (The Immigrants) and illustrated by famed artists Asaf and Tomer Hanuka. Charyn lives in Greenwich Village, New York.
  
Winter Warning Book Summary:
Reflecting our own world like a volatile funhouse mirror, Winter Warning lures us back to the 1980s, an era that could have been ripped right out of our most recent political upheaval. Isaac Sidel should have been vice president, banished to some far corner of the West Wing, but the president-elect has been forced to resign or face indictment for his crooked land deals—and Sidel becomes the accidental president. He’s a maverick, a crusader with a Glock in his belt, who defies both the Republicans and the Democrats. He seems haunted by Lincoln’s ghost, and the presidential palace becomes his own “great white jail,” as it did for Harry Truman.

There’s never been another president quite like Isaac Sidel, New York’s former police commissioner and mayor. There’s a secret lottery created by some bankers in Basel to determine the exact date of Sidel’s death. And Sidel has to outrun this lottery in order to save himself. His greatest allies are not the Secret Service or the DNC, but a former Israeli prime minister who was a explosives operative during the British occupation of Palestine . . . as well as a mysterious billionaire who belongs to a brotherhood of killers and counterfeiters. His only companions in the capital are the captain of his helicopter fleet and a sexy naval intelligence officer who realizes that something has gone amuck at Camp David, when a band of mercenaries arrive with their sights trained on Sidel.
 

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Our Lady of the Rosary

Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!

Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!

Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!

Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!

Mary the temple, Christ the temple's Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!

Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven's Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!

Mary the mother, Christ the mother's Son
By all things blest while endless ages run.
                                                          Amen.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Son of a Gun!

Ha!  I have to laugh.  I'm working on My Favorite Poem Project.  Today, at Franklin Senior Expo, I was talking to my State Representative, Jeffrey Roy.  He's reading at the event.  He chose a Robert Frost poem to read, The Road Not Taken.  We were talking about poetry and Robert Frost.  He was telling me about a quote he had just seen at the Kennedy Library.  He took a picture of it.  I could see that it was a draft Kennedy had written to commemorate Robert Frost, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College.

At home, I googled, "Kennedy speech at a groundbreaking ceremony for Rober Frost Library at Am..." that's as far as I got because my computer blinked.  And on
my screen was just a large microphone.

It surprised me.  Here I was writing this long sentence, "Kennedy speech at groundbreaking ceremony for Robert Frost Library at Amherst College" and now I had to write it again.  Again!

Out of my mouth came, "SON OF A GUN!" 

and instantaneously I was given Son of a Gun
www.sonofagunrestaurant.com/
Hip, nautical-themed restaurant known for its shrimp toast, lobster roll & fried chicken sandwich.

 I repeat "Son of a Gun!"



Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Nuthatch Trail

The Trail Hikers went to the State Forest in Upton, MA, today.  We followed the Nuthatch Trail.  The first sight I saw was this sign.  And I stepped in horse poop!  I was wearing hiking boots and the tread on hiking boots isn't conducive to cleaning.  ugh.....

We walked 4.1 miles.  It was a beautiful Fall day.  The foliage didn't turn, yet, but there were plenty of interesting sights.  Mushrooms proliferated here and there.  Our leader, Joan, picked some to eat.  She looked for spongy, clean bottoms.  That kind is non-poisonous.

We also saw a snake swallowing a frog. 

That's hiking in the woods.  Horse poop and snakes!  But the weather was in the 70's, the walk was comfortable, the companionship interesting, and the exercise stimulating.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Stupid Questions


Whoever said there's no such thing as a stupid question, must have never given a lecture and then asked for questions.

Ugh!  Today, the majority of the questions had nothing to do with the subject.

The rest made me think, "Weren't you listening? This was addressed!"

Then the last one made me hit my head with my book.  She just asked what was spent an hour explaining NOT to do.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Blasphemous But Theologically Correct

Crazy thoughts for today.  Yesterday, I finished reading Stephen King's 11/22/63.  There was an expression in there that I never heard before, and I keep thinking about it.

A man and a woman made a bet on the outcome of a boxing match.  The favorite was heavily favored.  The woman bets against the favorite.  She won the bet.  The outcome was so impossible that the man profaned "Jesus wept!!!!!!!"

She exultantly responded, "And His disciples made blueberry pancakes with His tears.  And they tasted the best, ever!"

????????????  That's a new expression to me.

Using God's name in vain.  Certainly.  But the theology is correct.  Jesus' tears would make anything perfect.

Well?  They would, wouldn't they.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Stephen King is Too Good


Once upon a time, I read a Stephen King novel.  Salem's Lot was about vampires.  I know vampires are ridiculous.  But still.  I remember being alone at night and deeply engrossed in the story.  When I looked up, it was dark.  I had to pull down the shades.  And I didn't want to look out the windows.  So I walked to each window, backwards, felt around behind me and pulled down the shades.  Then I went to my jewelry box and searched through my necklaces for a cross.  It couldn't be just a cross; it I specifically had to have a corpus on the cross.  Jesus protect me!

That night I couldn't sleep and swore I would never read another Stephen King book.

October's Book Club book is 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  Everyone assured me that there were no vampires in it.  That is true.  But the book kept me awake last night, again.  Now I'm walking around like a zombie vampire.

It's not scary, just too real.  It's about the assassination of President Kennedy.  I was in high school and remember it well.  But I forgot how polarized the country was, at that time.  It is uncanny similar to today's political environment.  The early 60's was politically divided by the north and south and democrats and republicans.  Just like President Trump couldn't do anything right, neither could Kennedy, according to their foes.  "Haters."  Then and now.

Just like statues are being torn down, so weren't some then.  In Texas, their state flag flew above the US flag, which was upside down signaling distress.  The similarities between then and now kept me awake. This time I was frightened for our country, not because of the vampires and zombies.

Stephen King is too good a writer.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Please Check Back For Reopening Date

How many books have we read?
     How many stories?
     How many genres?
     How many?  How many?

But there is never enough.
     No one says I'm quitting reading.
     Who says I'm fasting from books?
     That's it!  I'm giving reading up.

Surely that would be a horror story.
    Fiction macabre.  A tragic development.
    A bad dream--an awful nightmare.
    Like the library closed for a month?

Ouch!

Pixabay.Com CC0 A Slur that Cuts Deep : He's a loser! You're a loser! Among all the hurtful slurs we mindlessly utter this par...