I’ve Never Been

I’ve never been to Niagara Falls and I have heard it is beautiful and is quite the experience.

I picked up a copy of The Day the Falls Stood Still. 

Recently I was browsing a book store with a friend and they had the book displayed.  I told them I had a copy and I haven’t read it yet.  I then proceeded to get out my copy. These past few days I’ve read it.  I was even reading it while at work, something I rarely do.

Cathy Marie Buchanan weaves a tale using true life stories from Niagara Falls in the early 20th century and the days of World War I.  Bess Cole is the narrator and her story begins as a teenager and ends in her twenties, her formative years.  It is a page turner from the first page. The story is a reminder that even in the face of tragedy and the daily grind, life goes on and resilience is key.

A must read.

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The dogs are…….

Dear Molly Ivins,

I wish you were still alive.  I would love to hear your commentary about the country today.  Yet maybe you are in heaven banging out on your computer in frustration and only the saints are reading what you have to say.

It’s one thing to have lived through a period and another to read your take on this same time in US history.  Thank you for the laughs and the honest truth about many of the topics that this country battles about everyday.  Thank you for raking everyone over the coals equally.

I can’t wait to read more of your writings.

Sincerely,

Angela

 

A Letter to Anu Partanen

Dear Anu,

I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up your book The Nordic Theory of Everything.  Yet once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.  Then I got to the end and my reaction was: why did you stay?  Love?  Wouldn’t you both be better off if you followed the Nordic System of Love?

Some days I would give up everything to have unquestioned access to healthcare and free college and a system that values education and learning.

Yesterday a friend told me that a 10 year-old family member wants to kill themselves after being bullied for an entire school year by a teacher.  The teacher is not being disciplined.  Would this happen in Norway or are teachers as strongly vetted as they here in the US?  You mention about teachers not being able to teach but not about how they treat their students.

Recently I had to pay $125 in order to get a prescription for a $5 bottle of amoxicillin.  And I had to tell the doctor what I had.  I find this is the experience of most people here in the US.  They have to go in prepared and already done their research when talking to a doctor.  Does this happen in Norway?

In college the choice was pay for college or have health insurance.  I was furious when I received the insurance company packets and they said because I’m a woman, my premiums were four times that as a man the same age as myself.  (Never mind that male teenagers and young adults pay higher car insurance but I don’t think the insurance would have been as high as those premiums I was quoted.  My car insurance was a drop in the bucket compared to the health insurance.)  All of those packets went into the recycling.

I was also working full-time while going to college and my employer paid me out of three separate accounts so that it would look like I was part-time and they didn’t have ot give me benefits. And these were local politicians.

Speaking of politicians, they use the word “reform” for healthcare here in the US.  Does this strike you as strange or weird?  They should turn away the lobbyists and bling and set limits on drug costs and a whole other host of items.  Yes, I know equipment costs money but sometimes….Yet all they do is talk, talk, talk and no action.  Well, usually it consists of bucking and fighting whatever is being presented and then knocking it out when new people are elected.  Price setting in the current way of being and thinking would never work here out of pure greed.

Have a job after many months after having a baby?  What concept is that?  I know people who have gone back to work 4 days after giving birth.  Again, large corporations cry and complain, yet as you point out, it’s a boon for new entrants into the workforce.  Just a huge “WOW” is all I can say.  Even if most women don’t express it directly, I’m sure they would give anything to have this after having  a baby.  And money to boot?  I’d work three jobs to get that money back when I need it.

Your work dredged up a lot of not-so-pleasant memories and reactions, my own personal reactions, mainly being upset about how this system is available and it works yet out of greed people and corporations claw at it and fight it every chance they get.

People here in the U.S. are split in different directions regarding healthcare.  However, I’m seeing more and more people on social media venting their frustrations and people are wiling to have “socialized” medicine because our system of care sucks and as one woman pointed out, due to the lack of specialists, she already has to wait six months for an appointment anyway.  I’m glad to see that you brought up medical bankruptcy.  One woman I know, and her husband died, is now $1 million in debt for his cancer treatments and she has small children.   I can’t imagine.  This is another “taboo” topic.  Why?  Why can’t we have conversations about this and make changes?  Nobody wants to talk about it.  Is it the stigma that going through bankruptcy means that you have failed?

One item you referred to but didn’t mention is that going on individual State benefits opens the door to the individual State to freeze your assets and/or take the money from your estate before your heirs receive it.  Does this happen in Norway?  I’ve heard stories of families in probate court have a State official show up at the probate hearing and submit the documentation for the State to take the amount in benefits that the person used for food stamps et al. while they were alive.  The State gets the money first and then the family can split the rest.  Some people don’t know this and I know some people just don’t care.

I don’t know how it is in New York.

I’m glad you wrote this book and I hope everything is working out for you here.

Sincerely,

Angela

 

 

 

 

Murder Never Gets Old

There was nothing like sitting in the middle of a heavy rain storm while reading Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

The weather here today was awful and was a perfect reading day for this book.  Christie’s writing hooks you from the word “It”.

This is the first time I’ve actually read one of her books from cover-to-cover.  I’m familiar with the BBC versions of her work and right now I’m sorry I haven’t read her more before.

A great book for a rainy or snowy day.

The Tenderness of Wolves

I’m going to answer one of the questions from the reader’s guide.  (Something different).

Parker describes the “sickness if long thinking” as a state where a wild animal cannot be tamed by a human or humans because it always remembers where it is from and desires to go back.  Even though Parker relates it to a wolf cub he told Mrs. Ross he took care of, most of the humans in the book have some sort of sickness of long thinking.

One of them is  Jammet, the murder victim.  Even though there is never any narration or point-of-view from Jammet, what is subsequently revealed about him is that he suffers from this and this may have been the cause of his murder.  Jammet is who he is, he adapts for the person, the people, the circumstance that he is in.  Francis reveals that he and Jammet were lovers while it is also revealed Jammet had a family and children.  Jammet is the prime example of a human that acts like a wild animal; Jammet cannot be tamed and cannot and does not change his character for anyone.  By staying on his own and living in Dove River, a type of outpost, Jammet fulfills his desires to be out in nature and be free of any obligation.

Caleb’s Crossing

Even though this book is a work of fiction, Caleb’s Crossing could easily be used as a jumping off point to teach early American history, women’s studies, Native American history, colonial history, and much more.

It was fascinating to read this as I have visited both Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and the Mashantuckut Pequot Museum in Ledyard, Connecticut.  This is one of the many parts of American history I shake my head in sorry at and feel like Western civilization trampled and nearly killed off peoples who could have helped this country on a different course.  What Geraldine Brooks writes about is a “missing” piece of American history.  I will especially never look at Harvard University the same way again.

The Sorrow of War: Bao Ninh

I found this book in a thrift store and don’t usually buy books yet I am glad I did.

I caught most of Ken Burn’s recent documentary on the Vietnam War.  The documentary was eye-opening.  I had a professor in college who was a Vietnam Veteran and most of what we read in the class was literature from Americans who served in Vietnam.  As the years have gone by, I have realized that there was a lot in those books that I missed.  I saw this book and I grabbed it.

Kien is lucky.  The book just begs to be read and read and read.  The heartbreak is there and raw from the first page.  The images Ninh shares, the raw emotions, the humanity comes through every word.

The Jungle of Screaming Souls.

No matter where you stand on war, the Vietnam War, politics, this book is a must read.  Bro Ninh captures and the translator beautifully brings into English Kien’s world.