Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Reading List

AFruitful Vine by Carrie Bender
A Winding Path by Carrie Bender
One with Christ by Hudson Taylor. 
In Siberia by Colin Thubron
The Greater Journey by David McCullough
A Joyous Heart by Carrie Bender
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz
Lucy by Ellen Feldman. 
All through the Night by Grace Livingston Hill
Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. 
The Greater Journey by David McCullough. 
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  Audio CD.  Didn’t finish.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Allan Bradley.
Haiti after the Earthquake by Paul Farmer.
Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchey.  Audio CD.
Lost in Shangri-La. by Mitchell Zuckoff
Beechwood Acres by Carrie Bender
One Amazing Thing
That Used to Be Us by Thomas Friedman.
One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downs.   
The Gift of Good Land by Wendell Berry. 
Henrietta's War by Joyce DennysHenrietta Sees It Through by Joyce Dennys. 
A Test of Wills by Charles Todd. 
Good Evening, Mrs. Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes. 
Second Nature by Michael Pollan.  
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. 
The End of Normal by Stephanie Madoff Mack.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsen.  Boomerang by Michael Lewis. 

Second Nature by Michael Pollan

  Scattered through the verbage, the wordy points much belabored, the repetition, there are parts of this book that are humorous, thoughtful, and worth reading.  What should have been a 150 page book with clarity was actually a 320 page exercise in seeing how many times he can make the same point.

Waste of paper and ink.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Goals for 2012

The week between Christmas and New Years Day is a good time to set goals for the new year.  I've found that I accomplish more if I plan specific, reasonable goals for the year and hold myself to them.

Goals for 2012:

I.  Physical
          A. Maintain weight
                   a. Healthy eating
                   b. Gentle exercise
          B. Physical Exam
          C. Mammogram ; Gyn exam
          D. Dental Exams
II.  Spiritual
          A.  Church and ABF
          B.  Bible chapter each day
          C.  Spiritual book each month
III.  Professional
A.   Renew License—done
B.   Continuing Education hours
IV.  Financial
A.    Continue funding JMM 403b
B.    Savings
1.    Complete saving for Yard Scooter (Golf Cart)--done already thanks to a totally unexpected windfall.
2.    Begin saving for Sprinkler system
          D. Maintain debt free living
          E.  Increase charitable giving--We have decided to double our giving this year even though my retirement last year cut our income almost in half.
V.  Personal
          A.  Monthly haircut
          B.  Spring and fall clothes
          C.  Read good books
          D.  Go birding in Brownsville
          E.  Quilting
          F.  Expand Rose Garden
          G. Travel—NYC and/or Washington, D.C.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

Long nights, quilts, hot tea and banana nut bread, soup, flannel pajamas and fuzzy house shoes, murder mysteries, remembering that I should have potted some paper whites or a bright red amaryllis weeks ago.

Now as the old adage goes, When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boomerang by Michael Lewis

Boomerang by Michael Lewis.  There are many varieties of travelogues—some focus on the architecture of an area, others on the local cuisine, still others the flora or fauna of a natural area.  Michael Lewis in this book takes a tour of some of the countries where there has been a recent financial implosion—Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and yes, California.  It isn’t an in depth examination of the economies of these places;  it’s more a look at the culture of the people and the circumstances of a freewheeling banking system that  couldn’t bring itself to say “No” to even the most hair-brained financial scheme.  A good, light read on a really complicated subject.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Payroll Tax Holiday...or not

I do not particularly like paying taxes any more than anyone else but I have come to the conclusion that I hope Congress doesn’t get its act together enough to extend the current Payroll Tax holiday.  Why??  Because that is the money that funds Social Security.  Everyone runs around crying that the sky is falling because “Social Security won’t be there for me when I reach the age to need it.”  Well, duh, if you stop funding it, yes, when you need it, it probably won’t be there.  This is so typical of the American penchant for wanting the goodies without paying for them.  I happen to think that Social Security is a good thing as part of a retirement program and I want it to be there for me and for my descendants.  Therefore, it needs to be funded.  What a novel concept: If you want something, like say you want to start two wars on the other side of the world, you need to take out your wallet and pay for it. Same goes for Social Security.

It's over.

American troops are leaving Iraq.  What a terrible waste of lives and limbs and money.  I wonder what the Ministry of Perpetual War has in store for us next.  And unfortunately we will probably go marching patriotically right into it...again.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The End of Normal by Stephanie Madoff Mack

I've had a fascination with the Madoff saga from the first news reports. The people fascinated me. So wealthy by all appearances and leading charmed lives until one day it is all gone. And worse than that, you find that your loved family member is a cold-blooded criminal, a real sociopath. How on earth do you carry on with daily life? Stephanie Madoff Mack answers that sometimes you can't. She chronicles her life from the time she met and fell in love with Mark Madoff, eldest son of Bernie and Ruth Madoff, through their courtship, marriage, and birth of their daughter and son. She describes the stunned response as Bernie confesses to his two sons, Mark and Andy, that he has stolen the life savings of thousands of people, many of them relatives and close friends. For two years, Mark and Stephanie tried to pick up the pieces and build a new life and each time they thought that hey were going to get past the shame and rebuild they lives, something would happen to throw them back into the pit of shame and depression. In the end, Mark couldn't bear the pain and committed suicide. One question that was finally answered in my own mind was that Bernie's wife, sons, brother, and family really had no idea that he was anything but the loving husband, father, and grandfather and gifted businessman that they thought he was. It really was an epic tragedy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsen

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsen.  It is likely that I would not have read this book if it had not been a selection for my book club.  I won’t write much of a review because I seem to be the last person on earth to have read it.  The book has two themes—a business/finance machinations story and a murder mystery story.  The murder mystery part was really good but IMHO the business/finance story dragged on.  The strong points of the book to me were the well-drawn characters, each unique and clearly portrayed. I give it about 3.5 stars.  I'm not planning to read the sequels.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Today is my birthday and I am 64 years old.  I'm not young and it doesn't bother me at all.  One of the wonderful things about getting old is that you can relax and just be.  I love the poem below and it sums up my aging philosophy.


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When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples' gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickles for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

BTW, I am spending my pension not on brandy and summer gloves but on roses and birding and quilting and books.  And I wore purple last Friday.