“The Bluest Eye” – A Book Review

Toni Morrison wrote her first book, “The Bluest Eye” in 1970. It was controversial and poorly accepted at first but later became a National Bestseller. Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, and professor emeritus at Princeton University. In 1988, she won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her book “Beloved.”

“The Bluest Eye” is an honest, but painful account of various African American families. The protagonist is an unattractive, abused little black girl who longed to have blue eyes like the dolls available for play and like the beautiful girls at school. If only she had blue eyes her world would be different. No doubt she believed her parents would love her and her friends would treat her kindly. Her attempt to have her dream come true is really only a tiny part of the book, but points out the pain of being an innocent child in an incomprehensible world.

I recommend this well known book by an accomplished author, Toni Morrison who died this year at age eighty-eight.


“A room without books is like a body without a soul” Cicero

Violins of Hope

Violins of Hope

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a concert by the Louisville Orchestra led by conductor Terry Abrams. That is always a delightful experience but last night’s performance was extra special in that it caused one to reflect on a dreadful past and to hope for a future that is free for all people. The program was entitled Violins of Hope.

Violins have long been a favorite instrument of the Jewish people and they were present during the holocaust. Many of these violins belonging to Jewish prisoners have been saved even when their owners were not. Over the past fifty years, these instruments have been reclaimed from that horror and repaired by Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom, who spoke last evening.

Several of these consecrated violins that brought the hope of music to prisoners of war were on display and some were even played by members of the Louisville Orchestra.

The program honored the Jewish people and their struggle for survival. The orchestra performed the music of Klezmer Rondos, the ballet Judith, three pieces from Schindler’s List and a narration from the Diary of Anne Frank. It was an extremely moving performance.

We were fortunate indeed to have these violins and their message of hope in Louisville for a short while. Below are photos of a few taken from a Louisville Orchestra program.

“Wherever there were violins, there was hope.” Amnon Weinstein


The Year of Perfect Vision

the year of perfect vision

fall colors have begun to seep in…
staining the landscape
and in places, leaving the trees to bleed…

summer has lost its tenacious grip…
ebbing now against the winds
of change…
receding into the depths of its own
dusty shadows…

the earth is releasing a bounty…
sighing with the fall of every acorn, every walnut, every persimmon…
every parcel of nourishment
that nature has sent to sustain itself

the colors of autumn are growing
in brilliant hues and intensity…
that the eyes of humankind
might be opened…
peeled back in order to truly see
the value in the world around us…

nature tugs at our sleeves…
urging us to see…
to develop perfect vision…
to be guardians of the earth
on which we live…

and at its urging
we are swept away…
swept away
by a sea of  color and transformation

in the last passing days of October…
just a few months shy
of the year of perfect vision

Sylvia L. Mattingly
October 21, 2019
In the company of cats.


Photo by Pixabay

Alice Walker Book Review

“You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down”

This book by Alice Walker is made up of fifteen short stories. The stories vary in content from pornography to the civil rights movement in the sixties. Her stories are about the poor as well as the successful, such as artists and academics. The main focus of each, however, is the struggle of black women. Those struggles are surprising, in that they often come from within or from other African Americans.

Some of the stories I did not enjoy, but others I found very interesting. Probably my favorite was the last and the longest story entitled “Source.”

Walker is fierce in her willingness to tackle any subject. I recommend this book to anyone who is not easily offended. In my opinion, its purpose is certainly not to offend, but to inform.


Another Poem by Sylvia

October day

a placid stream
meanders through an October day…
quietly reflecting the autumn trees
that line its banks…

a sprinkling of fallen leaves
floats upon its surface…
casually drifting when
nudged by a gentle breeze…
collectively gathering along its fringes
like thoughts
along the fringes of our minds

a wooden bridge spans the gap
between two shores…
reflecting the connection
between humanity and nature

those who are drawn here
listen with open hearts
and open souls…
listen to the voice of nature
that speaks without words…
that whispers in the wind
sighs in the pine boughs…
and reflects itself
in a placid stream that meanders through an October day

Sylvia L. Mattingly
October 17, 2019


Photo by Sylvia Mattingly

A Bird Emergency

We are bombarded with data and sometimes I believe we become indifferent toward predictions and warnings. When it comes to the loss of birds in our environment we do so at our peril. “Birds are important indicator species because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people, too,” according to Brooke Bateman, a senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society.

We learned earlier this year that North America has already lost one-third of its bird population. For bird-lovers this is tragic and the future looks grimmer. New data points toward an even more frightening future. Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records from the US, Canada, and Mexico. The results of that study revealed that by 2021 two-thirds of America’s birds will be threatened with extinction if temperatures rise by 5.4 degrees.

Birds on this planet are like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. They can only warn us. It is up to us limit greenhouse gases and to see to it that our government protects the environment before it is too late.

Photos by Pixabay

Animals for Food

Before returning to the dark side, I was a vegetarian for ten years. From June 1993 to June 2003 I ate no kind of meat. It was harder in those days, especially when eating out, but I managed to explain to many servers that indeed fish and chicken were meat. It seemed they understood better if I explained that I ate nothing with a face. During those years I ate a lot of beans, rice, and pasta. I don’t know if I was healthier, but my conscience was certainly clearer.

Recently I ran across a list I made during that time. It is a list of ten reasons that I did not eat animals and I share it with you now.

  1. Animals have parents
  2. Animals love us
  3. Meat smells bad before it is cooked
  4. People who are allergic to animal hair have symptoms when eating sausage, think about it
  5. Animals experience violence, pain, and fear when they are slaughtered
  6. Animals have identity and personality; ever name your potatoes? talk to your peas?
  7. Meat is the only main dish with a gastrointestinal tract
  8. It’s like roadkill, just prepared differently
  9. I don’t care for blood and tissue in my mouth
  10. It isn’t necessary

I realize this list is partly disgusting, but so is eating meat when you give it serious thought. I also realize I am a hypocrite, because I do eat some meat now on occasion. I really do consider going “whole hog” vegetarian again and may in time.


“I think people should eat vegetarian food for 20 days and then see the glow on their faces.” Sangram Singh


Photos by Pixabay


Indigenous Peoples Day

Also called First People’s Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Indian Day (Brazil), or Native American Day
Observed by Various states and municipalities in the Americas on Columbus Day.
Type Ethnic
Significance A day in honor of Native Indigenous Americans on Columbus Day.
Date Varies
Frequency Annual
First time October 12, 1992
Related to National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada
Photos by Pixabay



Most Valuable Little Thing

What small, simple thing would you not want to live without? Notice the adjectives “small” and “simple,” so that doesn’t include family, friends, home, car, etc. Have you ever thought about something seemingly insignificant the makes you happier, makes your life easier? I have. I have thought of velcro for example and Windex. I would not want to live without Windex, rather like the father in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

But when it comes to the single most useful little item in my life it has to be POST IT NOTES! post-it-3559736_1280I use them almost every day in one way or another. They come in many shapes and sizes and in a variety of colors to suit every need. I love to color code and label things and POST ITs make that easy to do.

What small, simple thing makes your life easier or more fun?


Photos by Pixabay


When asked the purpose of my blog I must admit that some of the posts are silly, some I hope are entertaining but most of all I want to teach. The main goal of “Crooked Creek” the blog, is to inform, to help the reader to learn something that might be new information or old information presented from a different point of view. Thank you for learning with me as we grow together on life’s journey.



I believe that Gandhi’s advice should be taken to heart. In fact, in my opinion, if we stop learning we have stopped living. I do not refer to formal education but to learning from opportunities that present themselves every day. We can learn from those we meet, from books and other reading platforms and travel. We must be open to learning new things, but also to changing our minds about long-held beliefs. As we live, we should evolve in our opinions, in our way of seeing life and seeing others.

None of us want to remain infants in our behaviors but neither should we be satisfied to think in the ways of our childhood.

Continue to grow, to learn, to evolve and to share your new knowledge with others.

Photos by Pixabay

Breast Cancer Month

October is “Breast Cancer Month”

Be Informed before you buy that pink ribbon or can of soup

This writer expresses my long held beliefs regarding breast cancer awareness:


With so many organizations vying for your attention in October, it can be hard to know which ones are worthy of your support. Charity Navigator has developed a list to help you find a trustworthy charity that matches your philanthropic or personal interests:



Photo by Pixabay