Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
A book to pass the time....
Donated care of the organization
They put a white label over the books they donate and I have seen them all over Iraq. These books reach soldiers. Over the last two weeks we have been waiting hours and hours. So, extra books are always helpful.
Synopsis from the publisherIn this compelling, heartfelt novel from the bestselling author of Tuscan Holiday and The Friends We Keep, a family reunited for the holidays explores the price of secrets, the power of regret, and the choices that can change everything…
The Rowans’ rambling Maine farmhouse is just big enough to contain the family members gathered there in the week before Christmas. Becca Rowan has driven north from Boston with one thought in mind—reclaiming the daughter she gave up when she was a frightened teenager. Raised by Becca’s older brother and his wife, Rain Rowan, now sixteen, has no idea she was adopted. And though Becca agreed not to reveal the truth until Rain turned twenty-one, lately that promise, along with all her career success, counts for little in the face of her loneliness and longing.
But while Becca anticipates shock at her announcement, she’s unprepared for the depth of her family’s reactions. Her brother is angry and fearful of losing the daughter he adores; her sister Olivia, oblivious to her crumbling marriage, reveals long-buried resentments, while Becca’s parents are torn between concern and guilt. And as the Rowans’ neighbor, Alex, draws her deeper into an unexpected friendship, Becca begins to challenge her own preconceptions about family, about love, and about the courage needed to live with—and sometimes change—the decisions we make…
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Italian for Beginners
By Kristin Harmel
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Sapphire's Story: How 'Push' Became 'Precious'
Evidently this movie turned a lot of heads and the book was a huge hit.
The story behind it is very sad, but to be honest I probably will not see the movie.
Monday, March 22, 2010
just finished reading
Between Here and April
By Deborah Copaken Kogan
about Between Here and April
When a deep-seated memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child—shocking revelations about April's mother, Adele.
Elizabeth, now herself a mother, seeks out anyone who might help piece together the final months, days, and hours of this troubled woman's life, but the answers yield only more questions. And those questions lead back to Elizabeth's own life: her own compromised marriage, her increasing self-doubt and dissatisfaction, and finally, a fearsome reckoning with what it means to be a wife and mother.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Strength in What Remains
Part One, Flights
Bujumbura-NewYork, May 1994
On the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura, there is a small international airport. It has a modern terminal with intricate roofs and domed metal structures that resemble astronomical observatories. It is the kind of terminal that seems designed to say that here you leave the past behind, the future has arrived, behold the wonders of aviation. But in Burundi in 1994, for the lucky few with tickets, an airplane was just the fastest, safest way out. It was flight.
In the spring of that year, violence and chaos governed Burundi. To the west, the hills above Bujumbura were burning. Smoke seemed to be pouring off the hills, as the winds of mid-May carried the plumes of smoke downward in undulating sheets, in the general direction of the airport. A large passenger jet was parked on the tarmac, and a disordered crowd was heading toward it in sweaty haste. Deo felt as if he were being carried by the crowd, immersed in an unfamiliar river. The faces around him were mostly white, and though many were black or brown, there was no one whom he recognized, and so far as he could tell there were no country people. As a little boy, he had crouched behind rocks or under trees the first times he'd seen airplanes passing overhead. He had never been so close to a plane before. Except for buildings in the capital, this was the largest man-made thing he'd ever seen. He mounted the staircase quickly. Only when he had entered the plane did he let himself look back, staring from inside the doorway as if from a hiding place again. In Deo's mind, there was danger everywhere. If his heightened sense of drama was an inborn trait, it had certainly been nourished. For months every situation had in fact been dangerous. Climbing the stairs a moment before, he had imagined a voice in his head telling him not to leave. But now he stared at the hills and he imagined that everything in Burundi was burning. Burundi had become hell. He finally turned away, and stepped inside. In front of him were cushioned chairs with clean white cloths draped over their backs, chairs in perfect rows with little windows on the ends. This was the most nicely appointed room he'd ever seen. It looked like paradise compared to everything outside. If it was real, it couldn't last.
The plane was packed, but he felt entirely alone. He had a seat by a window. Something told him not to look out, and something told him to look. He did both. His hands were shaking. He felt he was about to vomit. Everyone had heard stories of planes being shot down, not only the Rwandan president's plane back in April but others as well. He was waiting for this to happen after the plane took off. For several long minutes, whenever he glanced out the window all he saw was smoke. When the air cleared and he could see the landscape below, he realized that they must already have crossed the Akanyaru River, which meant they had left Burundi and were now above Rwanda. He had crossed a lot of the land down there on foot. It wasn't all that small. To see it transformed into a tiny piece of time and space-this could only happen in a dream.
He gazed down, face pressed against the windowpane. Plumes of smoke were also rising from the ground of what he took to be Rwanda-if anything, more smoke than around Bujumbura. A lot of it was coming from the banks of muddy-looking rivers. He thought, "People are being slaughtered down there." But those sights didn't last long. When he realized he wasn't seeing smoke anymore, he took his face away from the window and felt himself begin to relax, a long-forgotten feeling.
He liked the cushioned chair. He liked the sensation of flight. How wonderful to travel in an easy chair instead of on foot. He began to realize how constricted his intestines and stomach had felt, as if wound into knots for months on end, as the tightness seeped away. Maybe the worst was over now, or maybe he was just in shock. "I don't really know where I'm going," he thought. But if there was to be no end to this trip, that would be all right. A memory from world history class surfaced. Maybe he was like that man who got lost and discovered America. He craned his neck and looked upward through the window. There was nothing but darkening blue. He looked down and realized just how high above the ground he was seated. "Imagine if this plane crashes," he thought. "That would be awful." Then he said to himself, "I don't care. It would be a good death."
For the moment, he was content with that thought, and with everything around him. The only slightly troubling thing was the absence of French in the cabin. He knew for a fact-he'd been taught it was so since elementary school-that French was the universal language, and universal because it was the best of all languages. He knew Russians owned this plane. Only Aeroflot, he'd been told, was still offering commercial flights from Bujumbura. So it wasn't strange that all the signs in the cabin were in a foreign script. But he couldn't find a single word written in French, even on the various cards in the seat pocket.
The plane landed in Entebbe, in Uganda. As he waited in the terminal for his next flight, Deo watched what looked like a big family make a fuss over a young man about his age, a fellow passenger as it turned out. When the flight started to board, the whole bunch around this boy began weeping and wailing. The young man was wiping tears from his eyes as he walked toward the plane. Probably he was just going away on a trip. Probably he would be coming back soon. In his mind, Deo spoke to the young man: "You are in tears. For what? Here you have this huge crowd of family." He felt surprised, as if by a distant memory, that there were, after all, many small reasons for people to cry. His own mind kept moving from one extreme to another. Everything was a crisis, and nothing that wasn't a crisis mattered. He thought that if he were as lucky as that boy and still had that much family left, he wouldn't be crying. For that matter, be wouldn't be boarding airplanes, leaving his country behind.
Deo had grown up barefoot in Burundi, but for a peasant boy he had done well. He was twenty-four. Until recently he had been a medical student, for three years at or near the top of his class. In his old faux-leather suitcase, which he had reluctantly turned over to the baggage handler in the airport in Bujumbura, he had packed some of the evidence of his success: the French dictionary that elementary school teachers gave only to prized students, and the general clinical text and one of the stethoscopes that he had saved up to buy. But he had spent the past six months on the run, first from the eruption of violence in Burundi, then from the slaughter in Rwanda.
In geography class in school, Deo had learned that the most important parts of the world were France and Burundi's colonial master, Belgium. When someone he knew, usually a priest, was going abroad, that person was said to be going to "Iburaya." And while this usually meant Belgium or France, it could also mean any place that was far away and hard to imagine. Deo was heading for Iburaya. In this case, that meant New York City.
He had one wealthy friend who had seen more of the world than East Central Africa, a fellow medical student named Jean. And it was Jean who had decided that New York was where he should go. Deo was traveling on a commercial visa. Jean's French father had written a letter identifying Deo as an employee on a mission to America. He was supposed to be going to New York to sell coffee. Deo had read up on coffee beans in case he was questioned, but he wasn't selling anything. Jean's father had also paid for the plane tickets. A fat booklet of tickets.
From Entebbe, Deo flew to Cairo, then to Moscow. He slept a lot. He would wake with a start and look around the cabin. When he realized that no one resembled anyone he knew, he would relax again. During his medical training and in his country's history, pigmentation had certainly mattered, but he wasn't troubled by the near total whiteness of the faces around him on the plane that he boarded in Moscow. White skin hadn't been a marker of danger these past months. He had heard of French soldiers behaving badly in Rwanda, and had even caught glimpses of them training militiamen in the camps, but waking up and seeing a white person in the next seat wasn't alarming. No one called him a cockroach. No one held a machete. You learned what to look out for, and after a while you learned to ignore the irrelevant. He did wonder again from time to time why he wasn't hearing people speak French.
When his flight from Moscow landed, he was half asleep. He followed the other passengers out of the plane. He thought this must be New York. The first thing to do was find his bag. But the airport terminal distracted him. It was like nothing he'd ever seen before, an indoor place of shops where everyone looked happy. And everyone was large. Compared to him anyway. He'd never been heavy, but his pants, which had fit all right six months before, were bunched up at the waist. When he looked down at himself, the end of his belt seemed as long to him as a monkey's tail. His belly was concave under his shirt. Here in Iburaya everyone's clothes looked better than his.
He started walking. Looking around for a sign with a luggage symbol on it, he came to a corridor with a glassed-in wall. He glanced out, then stopped and stared. There were green fields out there in the distance, and on those fields cows were grazing. From this far away, they might have been his family's herd. His last images of cows were of murdered and suffering animals-decapitated cows and cows with their front legs chopped off, still alive and bellowing by the sides of the road to Bujumbura and even in Bujumbura. These cows looked so happy, just like the people around him. How was this possible?
A voice was speaking to him. He turned and saw a man in uniform, a policeman. The man looked even bigger than everyone else. He seemed friendly, though. Deo spoke to him in French, but the man shook his head and smiled. Then another gigantic-looking policeman joined them. He asked a question in what Deo guessed was English. Then a woman who had been sitting nearby got up and walked over-French, at long last French, coming out of her mouth along with cigarette smoke. Perhaps she could help, the woman said in French.
Deo thought: "God, I'm still in your hands." She did the interpreting. The airport policemen wanted to see Deo's passport and visa and ticket. Deo wanted to know where he should go to pick up his bag.
The policemen looked surprised. One of them asked another question. The woman said to Deo, "The man asks, 'Do you know where you are?' "
"Yes," said Deo. "New York City." She broke into a smile, and translated this for the uniformed men. They looked at each other and laughed, and the woman explained to Deo that he was in a country called Ireland, in a place called Shannon Airport.
He chatted with the woman afterward. She told him she was Russian. What mattered to Deo was that she spoke French. After such long solitude, it felt wonderful to talk, so wonderful that for a while he forgot all he knew about the importance of silence, the silence he'd been taught as a child, the silence he had needed over the past six months. She asked him where he came from, and before he knew it he had said too much. She started asking questions. He was from Burundi? And had escaped from Rwanda? She had been to Rwanda. She was a journalist. She planned to write about the terrible events there. It was a genocide, wasn't it? Was he a Tutsi?
She arranged to sit next to him on the flight to New York. He felt glad for the company, and besieged by her questions. She wanted to know all about his experiences. To answer felt dangerous. She wasn't just a stranger, she was a journalist. What would she write? What if she found out his name and used it? Would bad people read it and come to find him in New York? He tried to tell her as little as possible. "It was terrible. It was disgusting," he'd say, and turning toward the airplane's window, he'd see images he didn't want in his mind-a gray dawn and a hut with a burned thatch roof smoldering in the rain, a pack of dogs snarling over something he wasn't going to look at, swarms of flies like a warning in the air above a banana grove ahead. He'd turn back to her to chase away the visions. She seemed like a friend, his only friend on this journey. She was older than he was, she'd even been to New York. He wanted to pay her back for helping him in Ireland, and pay her in advance for helping him enter New York. So he tried to answer her questions without revealing anything important.
They talked most of the way to New York. But when they got up from their seats, she turned to him an said, "Au revoir." When he reached Immigration and took a place at the end of one of the lines, he again spotted her. She was standing in another line, pretending not to see him. He looked away, down at his sneakers, blurred by tears. The spasm passed. He was used to being alone, wasn't he? He didn't care what happened to him anymore, did he? And what was there to fear? What could the man in the booth up ahead do to him? Whatever it might be, he'd already seen worse.
The agent stared at Deo's documents, then started asking questions in what had to be English. There was nothing to do except smile. Then the first agent got up from his seat and called another agent over. Eventually, the second agent went off and came back with a third man-a short, burly, black-skinned man with a bunch of keys as big as a fist on his belt. He introduced himself to Deo in French. His name was Muhammad. He said he came from Senegal.
Excerpted from Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder Copyright © 2009 by Tracy Kidder. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
It is time to get serious.
I have literally days left here.
I can count them on my hands and feet.
I am not going to panic.
I am just going to continue to breathe and allow whatever happens to happen.
I bought my tickets for my time off and I cannot wait. It will take some push and effort to get there, but it will not be long.
Not everything was accomplished while over here, but I have no regrets which is good.
I had planned on walking away with a much better understanding of Spanish, but instead I got a welcoming dose of Arabic of which I love. I took a lot of time to read and some time to write.
I was asked last night what was my favorite thing that I read over here and I am not sure..
These are the top 10 reads
1. What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir by Alice Eve Cohen
2. The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter by Holli Robinson
3.This Lovely Life by Vicki Forman
4. A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice
5. The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell
6. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg
7. The Slippery Year by Melanie Gideon
8. Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes by Emily Franklin 9. I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles by Lily Burana
10. Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
I am looking forward to hugging the little one's very soon.
I am preparing myself that little Michael might not want anything to do with me.
He is at the age where the mysteries of Batman and toys far outweigh the ideas of cuddling with an aunt that vanished to far off places for a year. I wonder what they told him when my cards and packages arrived for him.
There are plenty of birthdays the next 45 days. So, it will be an opportunity to celebrate.
I am not sure what my role will be when I get back, but not stressing about.
I have been looking at maps of Germany and France.
I know the Euro is tough on the American dollar from when I was in Greece. But I can make the most of it. I am excited to just choose what I want and where a wool sweater and jeans.
I have set aside 250 to order things for the trip.
I am getting a large back to just pack everything and then the rest is just small things.
I am pretty self sufficient so I will not need too much.
My eyes on this deployment process is a bit different than most people.
First of all I am a female in a male dominated Battalion. We had 20 females deploy out of the 430 and three of them were sent home early and one had an accident while on leave not allowing her return. We did not all develop deep seeded bonds, but we are connected. Secondly, I have been on the receiving end of the soldiers coming home.I know during the next few months and even years some are really going to struggle. Some have gained things and some have lost things. Some people discovered themselves and some completely removed themselves from what they once were.Some gained courage others lost hope.
I hear the snide remarks about the required training and briefings. In reality the odds are totally against us. We will have suicides, suicide attempts, fights, arguments, and violence mixed right along with the pride of serving one's country, marriages, births and celebrations. Even if these briefings just help one person they are worth it, because we know people will need it.
I have no fear for myself, because I feel a sense of stability and security. I have a savior that loves me and that can be my rock, my refuge, my husband, my father, and my comforter. I have a support system that is eager for me to participate and jump in with them to do life.
Others do not...
Thursday, March 04, 2010
The Kids Are All Right
The Kida are All Right
“Perfect is boring.” Well, 1983 certainly wasn't boring for the Welch family. Somehow, between their handsome father’s mysterious death, their glamorous soap opera star mother’s cancer diagnosis, and a phalanx of lawyers intent on bankruptcy proceedings, the four Welch siblings managed to handle each new heartbreaking misfortune together. But all that changed with the death of their mother. While nineteen year-old Amanda was legally on her own, the three younger siblings—Liz, 16; Dan, 14 and Diana, 8—were each dispersed to a different set of family friends.
Each chapter is written by each of the siblings.
Amen, Amen, Amen
Very good read.
I see parts of me in this book.
Abby Sher shares her deepest passion and secrets.
Abby Sher Website
from the publsiher:
Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remem-bers from synagogue, but by the time she is in high school, Abby is spending hours locked in her closet, urgently reciting a series of incantations and pleas. If she doesn't, she is sure someone else will die, too. The patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession.
In college Abby is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and while she accepts this as an explanation for the counting and kissing and collecting, she resists labeling her fiercest obsession, certain that her prayers and her relationship with G-d are not an illness but the cure. She also discovers a new passion: performing comedy. She is never happier than when she dons a wig and makes people laugh. Offstage, however, she remains unable to confront the fears that drive her. She descends into darker compulsions, starving and cutting herself, measuring every calorie and incision. It is only when her earliest, deepest fear is realized that Abby is forced to examine and redefine the terms of her faith and her future.
Amen, Amen, Amen is an elegy honoring a mother, father, and beloved aunt who filled a child with music and their own blend of neuroticism. It is an adventure, full of fast cars, unsolved crimes, and close calls. It is part detective story, part love story, about Abby's hunt for answers and someone to guide her to them. It is a young woman's radiant and heartbreaking account of struggling to recognize the bounds and boundlessness of obsession and devotion.