RAGE

Another Book Review

There are many books out about the current President of the United States. One, written by President Trump’s niece, was reviewed a couple of days ago and it seems this is a good time to follow up with another bestseller.

“Rage” is written by the well-known and respected writer, Bob Woodard, who has forty-nine years of experience. Woodward, of Watergate fame along with Carl Bernstein, is a respected journalist who has written or co-authored twenty books. His style is clear and the content is well documented with source notes for each chapter.

I knew this book would have actual quotes of the President, taken from recordings of interviews but I did not expect all the additional behind-the-scenes reporting. If you are interested in learning more about the chaotic history of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and his nearly four years of governing I recommend you read this book.

This Pulitzer Prize winning author gets five stars for holding my attention and providing inside information about the current president.

Too Much and Never Enough

Book Review Monday

“Too Much and Never Enough – How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” by Mary Trump, PhD

Mary Trump is the niece of the President of the United States. In this book she writes about her family in detail and claims to know what makes Donald J. Trump the kind of leader that he is. She doesn’t hold back while sharing her recollections and opinions of this well known and powerful family. Her account of the toxic dynamics involved is hard to discount based on her training and work as a clinical psychologist.

If you are interested in the subject I recommend this book. I found it well written and easy to read.

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At Dusk by Sylvia

at dusk

at dusk, i leave,
just as the lightning bugs arrive,
the warm glow of yellow lights
softly pulsing…
tapping out a unique version
of Morse code…
the white, billowy clouds
of a summer day,
lose dimension
and become shadowy silhouettes
pasted flatly against a twilight sky…
a yard ablaze
with colorful flowerbeds,
earlier awed over
and envied for their beauty,
recedes into the blossoming darkness
it was a day of laughter

and happy, smiling faces…

of chatter and camaraderie
and the ignorant bliss of childhood
then comes the leaving…
the driving away…
the honking of horns…
the waving of hands
and yelling of goodbyes
from a chorus of voices…
a steady stream of raw emotions
flows back and forth
between those who leave
and those who stay…
until the voices trail away
and the faces in the car windows
have long disappeared,
and this, another day,
has already found its place
in our memories
Sylvia L. Mattingly
July 30, 2020

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Photo by Mike

Reforesting Faith

Book Review Monday

“Reforesting Faith” by Matthew Sleeth, MD

This book was a gift from my sister-in-law. When I first saw it I wondered if it was about religion or about saving the trees. It turns out that it is about both. I have read the Bible my whole life, but I never read it thinking specifically about trees. As it turns out trees are mentioned in the Bible more than any other living creation except for humans.

The author is a medial doctor who used to be a carpenter. He has become a minister and now lives in Lexington, KY. His book makes the case that trees are essential to everyone’s understanding of God. Sleeth points out trees from Genesis to Revelation in a very conversational way. After finishing this book I will never look at trees or read the Bible in the same way.

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“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” John Muir

 

AUTUMN CLEMATIS

The Plant From Hell

We moved into our new condo in the spring of 2013 leaving behind a big yard and koi ponds and all kinds of trees and flowers. The condo has a small courtyard with a patio and room for a few plants. When it came to plants my husband never understood “few.” He worked all summer filling the soil with every plant he could think of and some he knew nothing about. By the time I added a few herbs the space was completely filled with hydrangea, crepe myrtles, rosebushes, honeysuckle, nandina, ferns and more.

In the summer of 2014 Raymond got to enjoy his courtyard planting, admiring his small plants showing signs of growth. In the winter Raymond died leaving me to care for his garden. I tried, I really did. I enjoyed the roses. I fought the Japanese Beetles. I mulched and watered, fed and trimmed and now all these years later I have a jungle.

I had quickly learned the nandina was invasive, but I was in for a big surprise this summer when I saw the Autumn Clematis from one end of the courtyard to the other. It was beginning to cover up most everything. My daughter, Dianne, is a Master Gardener and with a little research she informed me that this was not going to stop spreading . . . ever. As you can see from the title photo here it is nothing like an ordinary clematis but is quite pretty with delicate little blooms.

Dianne came to my rescue yesterday and dug up the plant from hell as well as the unruly honeysuckle and invasive nandina. I now have clear space in my courtyard and it looks so much better. I also have, five tall bags of trimmings and roots to dispose of and feel a little guilty for removing things that were planted with so much love.

America’s First

Alyssa Smith was born with biliary atresia, a condition of the liver which would be incompatible with life by the time she was around three-years-old. She needed a liver transplant but chances of an infant donor becoming available were bleak.

In those days only a cadaveric donor liver transplant was possible in the United States. Partial livers had been transplanted in a few places and a handful of living donor liver transplants had been done in Germany, not all successfully. Fortunately for the Smith family the surgeon who had been performing these living donor transplants had moved to the U.S. He was currently on staff at the University of Chicago Hospital.

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Alyssa and her parents Teresa & John

At the age of twenty-one months Alyssa was the recipient of part of her mother’s liver in the first ever living donor liver transplant in the U.S. I was privileged to be on hand for this historic occasion. On the day after Thanksgiving, 1989, Teresa gave 40% of her liver to her infant daughter and although there were a couple of complications it was a successful transplant covered by the media all over the world.

Over the next several years I was able to follow Alyssa’s progress and then to meet her again in 2006 when she was graduating high school. Alyssa is now over thirty years old and has given birth to her own son. This family was special in so many ways and I am grateful to have known them and shared in their amazing journey.

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Alyssa Smith at Age 21

“Once you’ve given your heart it is easy to give a little bit of liver.” Teresa Smith

 

More of Alyssa’s story and extensive details of the procedure are available in this Chicago Tribune article:  https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1999-11-30-9911300225-story.html

 

 

 

 

These Times

What Are You Feeling?

These are unprecedented times of pandemic, wild fires, hurricanes, racial tension and political uncertainty. We experience so many emotions at the same time and we wonder how to deal with any one of them. Perhaps one way to sort out our feelings is to realize that we are enduring profound grief. We are Grieving the loss of normalcy that is missing in our lives.

Most of us are familiar with the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Do any of these sound like what you are feeling? I believe we are encountering profound grief at this time. We do not have to experience a loss through death in order to undergo these emotions. https://crookedcreek.live/2018/12/10/grief/

Any loss can cause some or all of these emotions in any order. It is not unreasonable to feel anger when unable to go out to eat in a restaurant or to enjoy a big family get-together. If is very natural to be depressed when unable to hug your loved ones for months on end. These are normal feelings and we are normal having them, but it does not mean it is easy.

Hopefully just recognizing the grief for what it is will be of some help. Acknowledging rather than denying may help us to feel more normal. Accepting the abnormal might mean realizing that it is temporary and that there will be normalcy once again at sometime in the future.

In the meantime, explore your feelings by making a list of that has changed. This may put things into a different perspective. We may realize that there have been gains as well as losses.

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Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.” Marcel Proust

The Daughter’s Tale

Book Review Monday

“The Daughter’s Tale” by Armando Lucas Correa

An eighty year-old woman in New York City in 2015 receives a box of letters from long ago and seven decades of secrets spill forth. The shock of learning about her past was devastating both physically and emotionally.

At this point the story switches to her childhood in Germany in 1939 and the way her Jewish parents had saved her and her sister from the Nazis. The amazing journey takes the mother and her two daughters to the South of France where they become separated. One daughter ends up in Cuba and the other in the United States.

This story is based on true events and is an unforgettable account of love, sacrifice and survival. I recommend it.

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“The Internet has been this miraculous conduit to the undeniable truth to the Holocaust.” Steven Spielberg

 

Hope for Today

I unexpectedly heard this old song today and it struck me as being a good inspiration for the world we are currently living in. In spite of pandemics, raging fires, racial injustice, and political wars we must have hope. We must wait until the darkness is over.

WHISPERING HOPE by Septimus Winner

Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard.
Hope with a gentle persuasion,
Whispers her comforting word.

Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done.
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.

Whispering hope,
O how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in it’s sorrow rejoice.

Hope has an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul.
Wither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of it’s goal.

Come then o come glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary soul.
Come Thou O blessed hope of glory,
Never O never depart.

Whispering hope,
O how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in it’s sorrow rejoice.

If in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar.
Will not the deepening darkness,
Brighten the shimmering star?

Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.

Whispering hope,
O how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice. 

Hear Anne Murray sing “Whispering Hope” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teaHyY2Uvms or if you prefer country, here’s Jim Reeves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqwomT5YSiw

Save the Land and its People!

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Indigenous communities in the United States the hardest. Just weeks ago, the Navajo Nation had the highest per capita rate of cases in the entire country. Yet in the midst of this unprecedented global crisis, the current administration is seizing the opportunity to open more fracking and drilling in the Greater Chaco region in New Mexico. The Chaco area contains the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico. The park preserves one of the most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas in the United States per Wikipedia.

This plan could add up to around 3,000 new oil and gas wells to the area, threatening the safety of the local air and water — and pumping out exactly the kind of catastrophic pollution that makes people even more susceptible to dying from coronavirus. During this pandemic, corporate polluters have been handed free rein to move forward with dangerous fossil fuel extraction on public lands — including those around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Please let your Congressional representatives know that this would harm communities and destroy lands forever. Tell them you want them to stop this destruction!

SOURCE: Natural Resources Defense Council Environmental Advocacy Group

Chaco Ruins
Photos by Pixabay

Register to Vote

Are you registered to vote?

If not, please consider registering now so that you are prepared to place your vote in November. There have been few times in the history of the United States when a vote was more important. Do your duty as an American, PLEASE.

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Pixabay Graphic

Shamefully in the last election (2018) nationwide turnout was only fifty percent (50%).

Bird

A few days ago I heard an alarmingly loud noise and had no idea what had happened. As I walked to the front of my condo I saw that a bird had flown into my storm door. It was lying lifelessly on my porch. Remembering what my husband had done in similar circumstances years earlier, I carefully picked it up, cupped it in my hand, and gently rubbed its tiny back. Slowly one eye opened and then the other opened halfway and gradually it started to move. After several minutes I put it carefully on the ground and watched as it moved its legs and then its wings. I was not relieved for there was something badly wrong with this little one.

As the hours passed I watched it have numerous seizure-like attacks. Its head would go down into the grass or mulch where it sat and then its wings would stretch out and it would flutter around and around. It was hard to watch and I felt sure it would die from its head injury. I even considered putting it out of its misery, but couldn’t make myself do it. I was afraid something would harm it overnight, so I tried putting it in a box on a soft cloth so that I could put it into my garage but it became more frightened and agitated so I took it back out and put it under a shrub for the night. I’m am sure the birdie got no more sleep than I did.

The next morning he was a few feet from where I left him and seemed much stronger and was not having the seizures. I left it there and went for a walk. When I came back she was in the street! I guess it’s too late to make a long story short, but I’ll try. After a very long day of watching the bird and having help from the neighbors who fed and watered it with me, after many calls I reached a “bird rehabilitator”.

By now the birdie was so much better and except for one half-closed eye and the fact that it wasn’t flying it seemed in pretty good condition. Back into the box it went for the drive to the woman’s house who had agreed to help it rehabilitate. The woman, Mary, gently lifted it from the box, and confirmed that it was a female house finch. She took it into her home and I am so grateful that this little one has an adequate caregiver after two days with me as I played it by ear while following my heart.

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“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” Victor Hugo

Suicide Prevention

This is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. During this pandemic it is more important than ever that we be there for each other. You don’t have to be a mental health professional to make a difference. Being aware of the signs, knowing where to turn for help are things we can all do for ourselves and each other.

On average there are 132 suicides per day in the United States. Over fifty percent of these are carried out by firearms.

See this post for signs and symptoms of suicide as well as resources that are available: https://crookedcreek.live/2017/03/01/death-suicide/

The Kentucky Oaks

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Today is the Day of the Fillies!

The Kentucky Oaks horse race is for female horses called “fillies” and runs each year the day before the Kentucky Derby.   https://crookedcreek.live/2020/05/02/this-should-have-been-derby-day/

A few things, besides gender, are different about the Oaks race. The fillies carry 121# of weight as compared to 126# for the Derby and the race is a little shorter. The winning filly is draped in a blanket of lillies, rather than roses, as pink-clad ladies in their fancy hats cheer!

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“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries.” Will Rogers

 

 

Photos by Pixabay

The Arctic Refuge

The Arctic Refuge in Alaska is home to polar bears and migrating caribou. It also promises wealth from oil. After over sixty years of protection, the current administration has just finalized plans to open the area to drilling and fracking. “I do believe there could be a lease sale by the end of the year,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said.

Republicans since Ronald Reagan have worked to claim the fossil fuels in Alaska’s coastal  plains. The current Democratic presidential nominee does not favor drilling, but if it passes now, undoing it will be difficult if not impossible once the lease rights have been auctioned to energy companies.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge spans 19 million acres in northeastern Alaska. Alaskan lawmakers support drilling. Because of its likely effect on climate and wildlife environmental activists including Native Americans are strongly opposed. In this time of pandemic and civil unrest, it is easy to miss such actions that will affect our children and their children. We need to be vocal about our concerns by contacting our lawmakers whether we are for or against this and other actions.

 

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Photos by Pixabay

Guest Haiku

Several months ago  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/11/14/haiku/  we discussed Haiku and I asked readers to submit their original poems. A new reader, Jan Beekman, has done just that and here is her Haiku and her lovely photograph to go with it. The yellow blooms inspired her poetry.

Lilies drop petals

Long before other flowers

Best not to cut them

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Photo by Jan Beekman