The Door Did It

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Pictured: Broken eyeglasses, one lens out, frame broken.

Last night I walked, full speed, face first, smack into a heavy glass door.  BAM!  ! I was stopped dead in my tracks.  Well, not dead dead, but, well, you know what I mean!  I was stunned! I was hurting.

Still standing, I was trying desperately to figure out what happened.  My husband at my side  pointed out that my glasses were broken.  I was actually glad to hear that, because all I could see was blobs and blur.  One lens was retrieved from the floor.  Did glass shatter into my eyes?  The orbit around my right eye was sore.  Was I bleeding?  Did I crack the door?

Once I realized I was essentially okay – I was still standing, after all, and there was no gushing blood – I started to feel embarrassed.  I was standing in a glass enclosure – the well-lit entry vestibule to a busy restaurant.  I was clearly visible to passersby on a busy street, seated diners within the restaurant, and lots of wait staff.  Surely the loud thud caused people to look.  But no one approached.  No one checked on me.

We had dinner.  Yes, we really did!  I sat in a hazy blur and ate dinner.  We weren’t as chatty as usual, still processing what the heck happened there!  I had two thoughts running through my head over and over again: how am I going to get home (a half-mile walk in the dark of night with street lights and car headlights creating huge albeit beautiful starbursts and no practical vision otherwise),  and maybe I should order a scrumptious dessert – you know, comfort food!

Once home, I checked a drawer where I keep a few pairs of old eyeglasses in case of emergencies such as this.  My eyeglasses are extremely expensive and they take weeks to make, not an hour as advertised on TV, so I only get new glasses every 4-5 years or so. The glasses in that drawer could be 5, 10, even 20 years old.  I had apparently saved two old pairs that undoubtedly were better than nothing.

I opened each eyeglass case and uncovered a pair of glasses that looked practically brand new.  Where did these come from?  Could they possibly help now?  It seems they work remarkably well!

So aside from a little bruising and soreness, I’m good now.  I walked into a heavy glass entry door last night…

BOOK REVIEW: Memoirs of a Geisha

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Pictured: Book cover

by Arthur Golden

Don’t be confused by the title. The main character Chiyo (also known as Sayuri) is not a real geisha, not a real person even. This is historical fiction, not a real memoir. Nevertheless, the history is here, exquisitely told.

At age 9, Chiyo was sold by her father and plucked from a remote fishing village to a geisha house (okiya) in western Japan. There she is subjected to intense and often brutal training to become a Japanese geisha. Her housing and training as well as the initial costs of her being purchased are expenses that she will someday have to repay – expenses that continue to accrue – thus enslaving her. She must prove herself worthy of that repayment and only her work as a successful geisha would suffice. If she fails, she will be a maid forevermore – and then only if she is not first turned out on the streets.

Success means an exhausting life as an entertainer in tea houses, at corporate functions, and such – in short, as playthings of the rich. Chiyo does well, under the tutelage of Mameha, one of the most successful geisha in Kyoto. Chiyo becomes Mameha’s “younger sister” and when she transitions from apprentice to geisha she is given the name of Sayuri.

Sayuri continues her geisha duties while remaining in the okiya and the okiya does well financially by receiving a hefty percentage of Sayuri’s income.

However, Sayuri’s story is one of unrequited love. Her heart belongs to the Chairman (a wealthy businessman), a relationship that is complicated by other relationships and entanglements. (Miss Shapin would love this story!)

After 18 years, things change. Eighteen? This book is written by a student of Japanese history and culture, not a descendant. He writes about the dependence of  geisha upon an almanac, (a calendar of auspicious days) which geisha consult for their daily activities. Perhaps Chai is also present.

This has been a journey to another time and place, a culture so different from what I know. Slavery in the land of enchantment, and I was mesmerized.

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Pictured: The 18th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, chai, symbol of life.
 

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Available through BARD and bookshare

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Life of Bees

Pictured:  Book Cover showing a jar of honey on a window ledge.

By Sue Monk Kidd

This book was recommended to me. At that time, I thought bees? Really?  A whole book about bees? Bees are interesting, I give you that. Pretty, too, as long as they keep their stingers to themselves. They are productive, organized, and contribute to the world.  See?  I know a little about bees already.  But a whole book about them?  A paragraph, maybe two, would be okay, not a whole book.  So I passed this one by.

Well, it came up again from a second source at a time I was desperate for a book to settle in with, so I tried it. Surprise, surprise!  I got sucked in immediately.  Yes, I learned a lot about bees.  Yes, I even learned from the bees.  But the bees did not keep me hooked on this book.  Rather it was the characters that kept my attention.  It was Lily what’s-her-name, and the calendar sisters, and Rosaleen,  and Zach, and the Daughters of Mary.

And I don’t like books about religion.  I am not looking for inspiration or devotion, not from a novel anyway.  But there was lots of religion, religion that miraculously (if I may use that term) didn’t turn me off but kept me going.  It was a different kind of religion, a kind they adopted and adapted and made strictly their own.  And it was beautiful.

In brief:  A young white girl in a small southern town in 1964 runs away from an abusive home and is taken in by colored folks.

Great characters, great storyline, great adventure.

Keep the faith!

 

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

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In Time for Fall

Two weeks ago it was 93° here in New York City.  Now it is Poncho Time!

I am not partial to big crochet projects.  They can be unwieldy to work on, and become heavier and heavier as they grow.   I don’t know why I thought a poncho would be a quick and easy project. Easy?  Yes.  Quick?  Not at all!

Nevertheless, my poncho is done and in time for fall.  It is warm and comfortable.

I used a medium weight 4 Caron Simply Soft yarn and a size J hook.  The project started at the neckline with a chain of 76 and worked down to the hem, growing with every row.   It it is Back Loop Double Crochets with an increase at each arm and a double increase mid front and mid back. It is trimmed with a scalloped border at bottom and 3 rows of single crochet added to the neck with a small notch at neck front.

Poncho 2
Pictured:  That’s me wearing the poncho described above. Color is Minty Blue, according to Caron.  At my feet is my usually shy 25-pound cat Ernie.

Crochet a Doll’s Dress

My granddaughters love their dolls.  One has an Adora toddler doll she named Scarlett, a 20-inch tall doll that weighs a full 2 pounds!  The other has the ever-popular Barbie doll.  Both dolls need lots of care, and lots of clothes, naturally.

Adora Scarlett Dress

Pictured: This is Scarlett sitting pretty in her new crocheted dress. The dress has stripes of colors that blend gradually from reds to pinks to a bright yellow hem . The skirt is V stitches with a scalloped border.

Adora Scarlett Dress back

Pictured: Scarlett has her back to us now.  Don’t worry!  She is not mad or upset.  She is just showing us the back of her dress with button at the upper back.  –  Photos by Emilia, age 11.

Barbie dress front

Pictured:  Barbie is wearing a fitted yellow dress with spaghetti straps. Not shown is the low cut back. Barbie has accessorized with a red hair ribbon.  –  Photo by Sidrah, age 9.

BOOK REVIEW: The Institute

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By Stephen King

Tucked away in the woods of rural Maine there is The Institute.  The facility has been there for about 75 years, its secrets known only to a select few.  Those involved are paid handsomely for their dedication, their loyalty, and their secret-keeping.

Children are brought to the Institute after years of clandestine investigation.  When ripe for the project, they are abducted and meticulously groomed for the tasks at hand, their childhood and humanity discarded,.  Children are selected to perform a vital service not just for family or community, not just for their country, but for the world.  Without them and their unique skills, the world would end.  It is their psychic abilities and potential that qualifies them – psychopathic and psychokinetic qualities that will be augmented and exploited until those powers, like the minds and bodies that house them, are used up.

This is the work of Stephen King.  Therefore, what happens within the Institute will be horrific and will culminate in an uprising of unimaginable proportions.  Walls will creak, electrical wires will crackle, sparks will fly, buildings will rise from their foundations and fracture in a cloud of smoke and debris and terrifying screams. People will die.  Children will die.  And I, for one, would have preferred the omission of this incredulous cataclysm.

There is a lot of politics woven throughout the story, some of it obvious, much of it subliminal. Hillary Clinton’s “stronger together” is a central theme.  Yeah, I could do without the politics, too.

Stephen King writes horror stories around psychic phenomena. Much of what is in this book we have read before from him.  But the storyline is unique and captivating.  And I loved Orphan Annie.  What a colorful character!  Give me more of her!

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Available from bookshare

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Slice Veggies, Not Fingers

Ordinary things do extraordinary things!  In this video, we talk about how to slice fruits and vegetables easily and uniformly.  With today’s simple tip, people who are blind or visually impaired can master this kitchen task safely and easily, and with a very simple and inexpensive tool.

Click on the video below. to find out more.

 

AUDIOBOOK: The Other Woman

Pictured:  Book cover

by Sandie Jones

The other woman is not the best friend who slept with her fiancé.  Sure, there is one of those, but she is not the other woman. The other woman is not the mistress, the temptress nor the stalker. The other woman is actually none other than Emily Havistock’s future mother-in-law.

Emily is head-over-heels in love with the perfect guy, Adam Banks. And nothing will shake her commitment to him, not even his evil, manipulative, maniacal mother, Pammie.

I say Get Out Now! Run!

Mothers-in-law get a bad wrap. It is hard to adjust to new family with different ways of seeing things and doing things. There is that awkwardness that seems always to be there, even as it fades. So how far does it go?

Yet I do not hate Pammie. Unlike Emily, I do not like Adam. I want to shake some sense into Emily. What doesn’t she get?

Well written, suspenseful, with plot twists that work. In the end, I do hate Pammie, and Adam,  and Emily. And I hate James, too! I have been through a lot!

 

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Available through BARD.

AUDIOBOOK: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Pictured: Book cover

by Christopher Scotton

It had been a horrific few months for Kevin and his family, and the tragedy lives on and roots itself in new agonies.  Kevin and his Mom return to Mom’s roots in rural Kentucky in hopes of each finding a way to deal with their grief and guilt.

Then Paul Pierce is brutally murdered.  Who would do such a heinous thing, and why?  Paul was a gentle man who showed strength and caring and concern for his friends and neighbors,  always readily supportive for anyone in need.  After 18 years as a vital part of the community, Paul had made one fatal error – he had come out.  His homosexuality was always known and accepted by all, but never acknowledged. Now it hung like a banner across the town, across the surrounding hollers and villages.

What greater retreat than tramping, time alone with nature.  Pops (Doc Peebles, veterinarian), Kevin Gilooly (his grandson), and Buzzy Fink (Kevin’s new and only friend)  set off on a 20-mile trek through woods, across mountains, and past man-made coal-mining devastation.  Instead of the quietude and escape from daily life, they must deal with the unthinkable.

A well told, gripping tale.  I was only disappointed in the ending, which revealed the story to be a flashback.  I thought the ending was a little slow and unimpressive following all that came before.

This book is beautifully written with clarity of imagery. I loved the writing style and the stories – my favorite scenes in the Tellin Cave.

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

AUDIOBOOK: Girl, Stolen

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Pictured: Book cover showing a girl with her hands held up covering her face so that she cannot see.

By April Henry

A 16-year-old blind girl sick with fever, cough, and misery of pneumonia, lies curled up in the back seat of her stepmom’s car in a mall parking lot. Her stepmom Danielle has dashed into the mall to pick up new prescriptions to fight the pneumonia. The car keys dangle in the ignition, the door is unlocked. It has only been a few minutes at most.

The car door opens and soon the car is moving quickly out of the parking lot. Cheyenne Wilder, huddled in the back seat, realizes it is not Danielle at the wheel.

Kidnapped! That was not Griffin’s plan. His mission was to steal packages from vehicles in a busy parking lot. Spotting the key in the ignition changed his plan.

Cheyenne’s harrowing adventure had begun. Cheyenne is sick, she is blind, and now she is terrified.

Written for young adults and older, this book is carefully crafted and beautifully written. There are no loose ends. It is suspenseful, scary, and packs an emotional wallop. Blind and visually impaired people of all ages will identify with the protagonist while sighted people will gain insight into the challenges of blindness and ancillary acquired skills.

 

 

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

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