Thursday, October 1, 2020

Banned Books Week 2020 #BannedBooksWeek

Here we are again.  It feels like it was only yesterday.

It's Banned Books Week 2020, which started September 27 and ends on October 3.  So I am getting in towards the end, which is usually what seems to happen.

Each year, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom posts a list of the 10 most "challenged" books.  Books can be challenged for many different reasons.   The ALA, by the way, is the American Library Association.

Here's a blogger who goes in each year with a comprehensive post and a reading.

And here (drum roll) is the list of the 100 most challenged books from 2010-2019. 

(Just so you don't think this is a list of books that don't deserve to be read, please note that the Holy Bible weighs in at #52 most challenged in the past decade.)

You might be surprised at the lists of books that have been banned, at least once, somewhere, by a government, a school, or some other "authority".  They include such classics as:

The Handmaid's Tale
Two Mark Twain classics:  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Black Beauty
To Kill a Mockingbird
Flowers for Algernon
Where's Waldo?
In the Night Kitchen (I read that one to my son when he was young.  He's a productive adult, hopefully not scarred for life).

Also, there's a series my son got into big time growing up:  Harry Potter. (Sadly, the challenges to that series probably don't surprise you.)

Here are some of the scary facts.

Do you really want someone to be determining what you should be reading?

I don't.

How many banned books have you read? 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Early Color #WordlessWednesday

It's the last day of September.

It hasn't been usual for us in the Southern Tier of New York, to have such an early turning of the trees as we are experiencing now.  Not for years.

These pictures were taken September 26 on the Vestal Rail Trail in Vestal, New York.

Black walnut.

Virginia creeper on evergreen.

And, as a bonus, blue sky against red sumac.

Today, fall is asserting itself on this, the last day of September.  It's raining.  It may get cold tonight. But tomorrow, we welcome October.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Compassion for Ourselves

 I've renamed this post and I've rewritten part of it several times. 

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, ended yesterday evening.  This day has a deep meaning for those of the Jewish faith, as the Almighty makes final determination of our fate for the coming year.  Prior to the beginning of Yom Kippur, the religious Jew has tried to make amends for all his or her wrongdoings of the past year, and asked forgiveness/tries to make things right with those he or she has hurt. Yom Kippur itself is marked by a 25 hour fast and various religious observances.

Here is a brief history of Yom Kippur.

So, why am I blogging this after the holiday has ended?

It's about compassion and caring for each others, and those who give all because they care.

I have been thinking recently of Dr. Adeline Fagan  

Dr. Fagan, who grew up in LaFayette, New York (perhaps an hour from where I live), was a OB/GYN resident in a hospital in Houston, Texas. Dr. Fagan died earlier this month after a two month fight with COVID-19.  She been rotating through a number of positions within the hospital as part of her residency.  As part of this, she worked in the ER and was exposed to COVID-19 patients.

She was 28.

Her parents moved down to Houston to be closer to her, but they were only able to see her (briefly) three times before she died.

I want to take you to LaFayette, New York for a minute.  LaFayette is apple growing country but hundreds of cars must pass this exit off I-81 near Syracuse, New York to experience that beautiful country.

It is beautiful country.

Apple Valley, they call themselves. This is not an apple processing plant but a large orchid is near this business.

It's hard to imagine a young woman growing up in this peaceful place practicing medicine in the bustling city of Houston.  Her dream was to practice OB/GYN medicine, and she was taken from us way, way too soon, miles and miles from home.

Meanwhile, our country continues to tear itself apart.  Anyone who is in the public eye in any way related to COVID seems to be a target for one side of another, in attacks that make anyone wonder where the truth is.

But one thing is for certain.  Those who died should not be forgotten. 

If only we could find our way back to the path of caring for one another.  But perhaps it is too late.  Certain of us don't seem to care.  They do whatever they want, and don't think (or care) about the consequences.

For others, what seems simple to you or me can create the need for consultation with religious authorities for others.  For still others, certain of the recommended practices to curb COVID-19 are unthinkable.  I'm not thinking masks here, which is a whole other (seriously charged) topic in the United States, but, rather, cultures that live in overcrowded situations in multi generational households and refuse not to gather in large family groups for certain observances.

Not all is lost, though.  Here's one viewpoint - enjoy.

If you want still another viewpoint, this post by someone who lived through a civil war several years ago  may scare you, or plunge you into self-denial.  

We may need compassion for the entire human race, and how impossible is that?

Perhaps we start with compassion for ourselves, and go from there.

Can we overcome what seems hopeless?

Is there still hope for us worldwide to escape this second wave, which is already on its way?

We can only continue to move forward, one day at a time.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Neighbors and Sons - #MusicMovesMe

 It's Monday.  It's time to get colorful with Music Moves Me!

Who are the members of Music Moves Me ?  We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday. If you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join in on the fun.  Just remember our simple rule:  you must include at least one You Tube or Vimeo video or your post may be subject to removal or labeling "NO MUSIC". You are welcome to write about music. too but there must be at least one music video. 

Every month we have an honorary co-hostess.  For the month of September it's Cathy from Curious As a Cathy.

Today, she has picked the theme of "for National Neighbors or Sons Day, song titles/lyrics about neighbors or sons".

Well, then.   How about three of each?

I don't know if I would like the Rolling Stones as neighbors, but here is a song from 1981:  Neighbours.

This song by Creedence Clearwater Revival may be a stretch, but it talks about neighbors, and is about door to door salespeople.  Yeah, back when people weren't afraid of going door to door. 

Jimmy Buffet and his Bank of Bad Habits is such a fun song, especially its description of the Seven Deadly Sins and your neighbors - not exactly the Seven Deadly Sins of the Bible.   For example: "do not eat thy neighbor's wife's popcorn...."  There's an 8th deadly sin, too:  PIZZA.

Now for sons.

The first song I think of when I think of sons is another CCR song - Fortunate Son.  Have a feeling I won't be the only one who posts this classic.

 Kansas was the last live concert of a "name group" I saw (in August of 2019) so this one is a natural.  Carry on Wayward Son - Kansas

Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield.

I am ending with this song.  I hesitated because this song is played, sometimes, at the funeral of a child.  But it is such a beautiful song and it isn't just for sons or sad occasions.  


Billy Joel and "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)".

And you know what I say at the end:  it's a wrap.

See you again next week, same time, same place!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sitting Here

Every day, turmoil and more turmoil.  When you think it can't get worse, it does.  Marches, injustices, violence, a Ball of Confusion.

One could wish we could leave our homes and just find a place to sit, watching the tide roll away.

Friday, while writing my post, I was reminded of the song "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay", sung by Otis Redding.  I started incorporating some (sort of) lyrics into my post, and at least one of my readers caught on.

Today, remembering the magical hour or so I sat by Skaneateles Lake in New York State on Wednesday, drowsy in the afternoon sun and forgetting my cares, I wonder what would happen if I made that dock my home.

What would probably happen is that winter would come, and I would have to head on home.


So here I am, at home, in my yard, one one of the last warm days of the years.  We've had a light frost already, and trees are starting to turn in our area.

It's only a matter of time before winter comes, but until then, I will enjoy the remaining days of sunshine.

Here is the song.  Enjoy.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Let New York Librarians Choose Your Next Read

 Have you ever dreamed of a concierge service where a librarian working for a big city's library would send you personalized recommendations for your next read?

I never knew such a thing existed, but there is such a thing.  It is available both by email and (during certain designated days and hours) on  FacebookTwitter.  Best of all, it is run by the library that nourished me in my growing up years - the New York Public Library. They call themselves the Readers Services Team.

I've blogged before about how, growing up, I wanted to work in a library.   More specifically, I wanted to work in a New York Public Library bookmobile.  After the city housing project I lived in lost its branch library (yes, we had a branch library in our housing project!) somewhere around 1959 or so, we gained a bookmobile which stopped by every Thursday during the school year.

I loved coming home from elementary school and climbing up the short flight of stairs and into a world of magic.  I don't know how many books that bookmobile held, but I always managed to find something there to read.

Now, during the pandemic, as a New York State resident, I am once able (on a limited basis) to use the NYPL's resources .  But anyone (yes, anyone) can use the online Readers Recommendations.

I tried it yesterday and it works.  

If you want to do this, there are several ways.

1.  By email on a web form - using this link.

It will ask you what you are in the mood to read and it will ask you for a book or author you've enjoyed reading.  It will also ask you  if you are asking for an adult, child, or teen.

2.  By Facebook: following the NYPL; there is a live feed Wednesdays at 12:30 pm.

3.  On Twitter.  You don't have to follow NYPLRecommends .  The times are Mondays from 3pm to 4pm Eastern Time and Fridays from 10am to 11am (Eastern time). Tweet them (reply to the link they would have set up for that day's session.)

So, my experience.

Yesterday I went on Twitter around 10:30 am.  I had never hit the "magic hours" before but I saw their tweet indicating they were open for recommendation requests, so I tweeted them that I enjoyed dystopian literature and loved a book "Station 11" by Emily St. John Mandel and a YA series called The Razorland series.  Within minutes, I had five recommendations and they were good ones:

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman - I can see why this was the first recommendation. There has been a plague and everyone gets it as they approach their late teens.  Everyone dies from it,  most painfully.  So civilization (such as it is) is being carried on by teens before they get sick and die.  

Our heroine is an African-American teen whose older brother, the head of their band, is dying from the plague. So off she goes into this strange future world (and is it ever strange), trying to find a cure.

For me, this 600 plus page book was a DNF but not because it was terrible. In fact, I found it to be quite imaginative.  In another day and time (I read it, perhaps four years ago?) I may have had the patience to wade through its invented dialects and its just general try to figure it all out.

If I had only discovered it now, in the time of COVID-19 - who knows?

It was a very good first recommendation.

The other recommendations?  They gave me a total of five.  I had read part of one (just never got back to it, but it was very well written), had heard of the third but not investigated it yet, and both of the remaining two sounded interesting.  I chose one to check out of the NYPL as an ebook. 

So, in other words - they nailed it.  I'm reading it now. Maybe I'll even review it for you.  Let's just say it involves another plague...

Maybe they will nail it for you, too.

Have you ever used this service?

Friday, September 25, 2020

Sitting Near the Dock of the Lake #SkywatchFriday

It was past time to go on a road trip.

We've only gone outside our home area in New York State twice since the pandemic started, and have gotten more and more restless for some new scenery.  

On Wednesday, I wasn't working, and we decided to go somewhere we haven't gone to since August of 2018 - Skaneateles, New York.  This is a smallish village of about 2,400 people along one of the smaller Finger Lakes, filled with small, interesting shops and lots of tourists.  The village has its share of affluent people and some lovely houses.

The name comes from a Native American word for "Long Lake". It's a beautiful long lake and there is a city park along the lake, where you can sit, socially distanced, and watch the day go by.

We sat near the docks of the lake, watching the time roll away.

We watched a tour boat as it docked, a group (socially distanced) disembarked and a new group of tourists boarded. (You can see some of the first of our fall foliage, too.)

Everything still remains the same - sort of, except that the library only allows one person at a time on their porch, and masks are required.

The Patisserie, such a wonderful bakery, offers pickup only. That's what we had already figured out - the place is so small but you used to be able to go inside and watch the women who run it make the most delicious goodies, as long as you didn't linger long.  Now, everyone masked, you order at this window and pick up around the corner and you pass the money to them through a mess screen.  Ah, fresh stretch bread, served with a side of pandemic.

Last but not least, a shot of Skaneateles clouds in a store window in the town of Marcellus. Yes, it was Chocolate Pizza time.  Finally, homeward bound, dreaming of how we were able to drowse in a warm sun.

Joining Yogi each Friday for #SkywatchFriday.