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Book club last night..I waited too late and didn't quite finish the book, but it was an enjoyable time nonetheless!

What was funny was how much the book was discussed, even though most folks didn't seem to like it -- too long, too biased, too flowery -- but folks talked about it BEFORE dinner...and AFTER dinner...and AS WE WERE LEAVING!

Usually, everyone agrees about the book, and then conversation goes to the eye-watering daily politics! But last night -- it was all book all night!
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I often describe the Lord of the Rings as my Bible! I have read it many (MANY) times...even in other languages (French, Portuguese)!

I think it is because Tolkien shared my love of language. And the good vs evil thing in the books.

My music selections are probably a good description of my life.."Everybody's worried about time, but I just keep that shit off my mind"...
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I’m starting a book that I’m excited about because of the subject matter. The book is called the "Final Pagan Generation", and the book’s subject is the last generation of people living in the Roman Empire as the Empire changed into a strictly Christian empire -- a generation who could not imagine a world where the pagan religions were not able to practice publically.

The generation he’s talking about is the older one that was still alive just AFTER Constantine (first Christian emperor) had died.

I’m just on the introduction now, but already I find it interesting how he is comparing the younger generation, who recognized the existential threat to paganism represented by Christianity, and the older generation (the ‘final pagan’ one) who could not even imagine the world order changing so much that paganism could be forbidden.

Here are some excerpts from the intro:
The younger pagan and Christian religious warriors were born into a world in which Christianity was clearly ascendant. They anticipated its destructive and transformative power, and as they matured, they came increasingly to understand that the dawning new religious order threatened the very existence of traditional Roman cults…

Older men did not see the world in this way…They reacted instead as if they could not imagine a world in which traditional religious practices did not have a part…

The “final pagan generation” I will speak about is made up of the last group of elite Romans, both pagan and Christian, who were born into a world in which most people believed the pagan public religious order of the past few millennia would continue indefinitely…

They lived through a time of dramatic change that they could neither anticipate nor fully understand as it was unfolding.

What I find interesting is that I might equate the words “pagan religious order” with "US political order" -- my generation's understanding of the rules and mores of how the US Republic works. I wonder that we might be the ‘last generation’ to think that the political order of "how things have always been" might not be how things might always be in the future.
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"Sing, Unburied, Sing" is the selection for book club this week. I didn't expect to like it because it is set in the Jim Crow South, and I grew up with the remnants of that, and didn't feel like I wanted a reminder.

But I did end up liking the book -- many of the scenes are painted with descriptive waves of supernatural familial sentiment: "....Mama...looks at Leonie with so much understanding and forgiveness and love that I hear the song again; I know that singing. I've heard it from the golden place across the waters. A great mouth opens in me and wails; I am an empty stomach.

The scaly bird lands on the windowsill and caws.

I found myself re-reading sections just to hear the words again.

Later Addenda -- It wasn't until the book club meeting tonight that I realized that this book is actually set in modern day! One of the guys at the meeting mentioned a cell phone used by a character -- and he's right, so the book's setting is in modern times, but I didn't realize it! The reason is just that the setting in the book was so very descriptive of the 'Jim Crow South' that I had read the book that way, but the story of the book happens in recent times! I imagine that was part of the author's intent -- to show that the Jim Crow South hasn't really gone away.

Also, I learned a phrase: "magic realism" as a description for the type of book this is. Basically, the ghost characters, and the talking animals (as understood by some of the characters), etc. amounted to magic realism.
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This past Christmas I bought a book as a gift. I didn't pay attention that it was coming from the UK, so I felt all special when I got a package from Royal Mail by Airmail! The British company included an additional gift, which they called a "Diary"...which doesn't mean the same thing in American English. The additional gift is what I would call a "Datebook" -- a diary in American English means a "personal journal", not a calendar!

In any event, I have no need for a Datebook -- I mean, we have electronic calendars now!

So as a way to remind myself of good things in my life, I decided to use the Datebook to record something I am thankful for each day. For example, today I recorded that I am thankful that I like to play with electronic things -- having just bought a couple of HomeKit connected plugs to turn lamps on and off with Siri. Mostly, this was just for fun, and I guess what I'm really thankful for is that I still like to play :)

But one worry I have had is that sometimes, I think I am just writing something quickly at the end of the day without really stopping and really thinking about what it is that I'm thankful for. I think I'll have to be sure to stop for a few seconds each day and consider why I'm writing what it is that I'm writing.

Maybe at the end of the year...or maybe the end of each month, I'll read the entries to remind myself....sort of a Buddhist meditation :)

And as I think of it, maybe I'm using this 'Datebook' as a 'Diary' lol, recording what I was thankful for!
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It's fricken cold on the porch in the shade! But pleasant day today -- did a couple 'to do' items, then walked around Belle Isle, then finished reading the next book for book club next month.

The book was called 'Peter Darling'. I suggested it to book club because it was the story of Peter Pan, but told as Peter being transgender, and it seems that Peter Pan is always played by a woman! So it was interesting to me....now, I don't have any history with Peter Pan -- don't know the story, except the Disney cartoon version....but this was pretty good...it had a happy ending. It got a little (ok...a lot) Harlequin Romance there for a bit, but I'm still glad I read it.

I saw a Skipper on the Asters that I had never seen --
Butterfly on Asters

I think it's a Long Tailed Skipper...definitely seemed to be a Skipper, although the long tails made it seem bigger, and confused me because I, at first, thought about a Swallowtail.

But I find the green 'fur' gorgeous, and also the iridescent tails!
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Pleasant time hosting book club the other night! And then....the hurricane came through, really a tropical storm by the time it got here. No damage to the house, although a few of the girls out front were a pushed over sideways.

Power was out for about 27 hours or so.

Back home from work, getting ready to have wine with a friend and then hopefully a good night's sleep!
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I wanted a very relaxing week off, but I'm afraid that's hard for me to do -- I think I inherited the trait of always doing something from my dad. So I don't think I had the relaxing week off that I had hoped, and I don't feel very well rested! But I did get to see some folks, got some yard work done, etc.

I've been catching up on American Horror Story, and I really liked this scene from the season 2 ("Asylum") --

Been listening to this song last couple days --

Woodpecker in the hedges this evening --
Woodpecker in the yard

And I'm within 50 pages of finishing that book for book club! I was not sure I was gonna finish it (reading in Portuguese being so slow for me), but now I think I will actually finish!
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Tudo é uma coisa só. -- Everything is only one thing.

I'm frantically reading a book right now for book club because I'm only 1/2 done, and book club is next week! It's a book that was originally written in Portuguese, so of course, what did I decide to do? I chose to read it in Portuguese! But omg...so many vocabulary words I didn't know has meant for a long, long slog!

The Alchemist -- o Alquimista -- is a pretty decent book, and that is something which surprised me. The slogan on the book -- Quando você quer alguma coisa, todo o universo conspira para que você realize seu desejo. -- When you want something, all of the universe conspires so that you realize your desire. -- sounded pretty 'new agey' to me, so I didn't expect much substance. But I have enjoyed it so far.

The book reminds me of my 2015 Sabbatical ("sabbatical*3" as a I tagged it), where things kept falling into my lap without much effort on my part -- I seemed to have just been in the right place at the right time.

Here's what I wrote in this journal about that Sabbatical:

Serendipitous Events:

There were some things that just seemed to fall in my lap without my trying. It seemed I was just in the right place at the right time.
  1. Brazil trip — this was not something I organized. A friend of a friend knew I wanted to go, and she connected me with someone who was organizing a trip.
  2. Nude model — I had wanted to practice nude photography again because I was not entirely satisfied with the results the 1st time I tried it. And I ended up meeting a guy who just volunteered to be the model!
  3. Main Street Station Clock tower — in the area and talking to people, and got invited to climb into the tower.
  4. Hosting a couchsurfer (the Belgian guy). I had signed up for Couchsurfing.com years ago and had not used it. I had forgotten all about it until he contacted me through the site!
The book's slogan matches what I felt during the last Sabbatical...which leads me to question why I didn't continue to tap into that feeling of being on the right path!

Yesterday I went hiking with a friend, and I was describing the book and how it reminded me of the Sabbatical*3. I'm still thinking about that, and here are some pictures from the hike --
Field of yellow flowers

Hiking a trail with a friend yesterday

Hiking a trail with a friend yesterday

Old building on hike today -- bullet holes?

I don't feel sidetracked right now and don't think I did the wrong thing by coming back to the workaday, 9 to 5 job...But I do think that my realization during the Sabbatical of being on the right path was important, and that my job right now is to make sure I don't forget what I felt during Sabbatical*3 and return to that path at some point.

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I haven't posted in a while. Just doing my thing -- haven't gotten the camera out much lately -- cold, dreary, rainy, etc. And when it hasn't been raining, I've been outside doing yard work.

I have been out w/ friends to dinner, movies, drinks, etc. Today, a friend and I had some Bubble Tea -- he and I both like the tapioca pearls! -- and then we walked around the museum (mostly to get inside out of the chill).

Here's a pic of Chloe outside the museum. She looks as 'pasted onto the landscape' as ever!

I'm hosting the meeting of the book club this week -- I still have about 100 pages to read in the book! Jane Austen has some dense, slow for me to read prose! At least the house is basically clean, and I've decided that I will not cook dinner -- I'm ordering pizza! I do plan to make a salad and some cupcakes though, so at least something will be from my own kitchen!

Friends' birthday party tomorrow should be fun.

Nothing else noteworthy right now...just doing my thing!
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Spent new years at a friend's house last night...and today I have been productive.

One of my goals for New Year's Day is to get the tree taken down.

Typical clean-up of -- needles everywhere!

Started a book in its original Portuguese. So far so good -- the writing style is at my level -- although, of course, I have to look up unfamiliar words, like 'saddlebag' and 'staff' -- not words I use every day!

And yesterday, started a batch of vanilla extract. It'll be ready in a couple months. I guess for just pure extract, I should use strictly vodka, but I tend to mix up the alcohol. I also should use cheap alcohol when making extract...but I used what I had on hand!
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Today was lazy. I got to the grocery store at 8AM this morning to pick up stuff to make a salad for the family Christmas meal. The parking lot was already 1/2 full!

And I took a sweet potato pie (an extra from the Tree Trimming) out of the freezer into the fridge to defrost.

Otherwise...it was another movie day -- Thor (2011):

I don't I realized how much work Chris Hemsworth did on his body for this film -- but when he took the shirt off...well, there he was!

And I finished up the book for next month's book club...it's an old one: Flowers for Algernon. I had read it many many years ago...and I found a PDF online so I didn't have to buy a book.

I had forgotten how sad it can be!
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This is next up on my reading list -- written by Sinclair Lewis in 1935. Link is to an ePub version of the book, which can be read with Kindle, iBooks, etc.
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Growing up, I read a lot of Isaac Asimov...his Foundation series (along with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) was definitely a big part of my growing up. His writing style is a bit terse and old fashioned, but since his stuff was published in the 40s and 50s, that's understandable.

And Asimov was prolific - there are a lot of short stories and novels that he wrote. Today, I read a less than 15 page 'novel-ette' called "Nightfall".

I realized when I was reading it, that a lot of Asimov's stories are 'thought experiments'. What if there was a world with 6 suns, where there was never any light? How would the people react if there was a time of total darkness?

Published in 1941:
41 ' "It came to pass that the Darkness
42 of the Cave fell upon Lagash, and there
43 was no light on all the surface of Lagash.
44 Men were even as blinded, nor could one
45 man see his neighbor, though he felt his
46 breath upon his face.
47 ' "And in this blackness there
48 appeared the Stars, in countless numbers,
49 and to the strains of music of such beauty
50 that the very leaves of the trees cried out
51 in wonder.
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Couch surfer #3 stayed with me again last night. Fun guy, dinner, wine, talking. Tired now and early bed!

Now that I deleted that Facebook account, I have lots more time to do things, like READ!

Bone. Bombs and tantrums, when the world grew bitter because the world fell somehow short of half-remembered Eden.

Pretty depressing book! Slow moving, but good book. And I enjoy puzzling out the church Latin -- Fiat Homo. Fiat Lux. Fiat Vountas Tua. Funny how I could still understand some of the Latin -- even after all these years!

Lots of (church) Latin in the book because the story line is a monastery in the southwest US, which is preserving artifacts during the Dark Ages that occurred after the 'Deluge of Fire'.

Depressing because the basic point of the book is that mankind will destroy itself over and over again, whenever it has the technology to do it. Basically, whenever man has nuclear weapons, it will use them to end the world ("Sic Transit Mundus" -- Thus the world passes.)
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Not being on Facebook anymore, I seem to have more time to read! And reading is a much better use of my time. It's a pleasant side effect of quitting Facebook!

I was talking to a young guy the other day, and he said he 'hated' to read. He didn't say this, but I suspect he hated to read because it requires focus, in a way that a movie or a Facebook flamewar does not. It doesn't bode well for younger folks to be able to make long term decisions if they can't focus!

The Giver / Lois Lowry

This is actually a teen reader book -- so I easily polished it off in 3 sittings. I liked how the central character became the Giver, although not in the intended way. I also was surprised at the vague ending...but interpreted it as the characters dying, although the author has said she does not believe they died.

I Am Legend / Richard Matheson

I knew that the old movie, The Omega Man, was based on this book. And then there was the later remake with Will Smith. Although the Omega Man and I Am Legend were not exactly the same, I kept seeing scenes from that old movie in my head as I read it.

The next thing that surprised me was that only 1/2 of this book was I Am Legend -- then there were a series of short stories. I'm not a huge short story fan -- I don't like switching gears that often, and sometimes the characters from the different stories merge in my head.

But these stories were all nicely done, and were in sort of the same genre as the 1st part of the book. One thing that surprised me was that I RECOGNIZED one of the stories from another TV movie! And the movie and the short story were pretty much exactly the same!

The short story was called "Prey", and it was evidently the exact basis for one of the stories in the Trilogy of Terror, renamed 'Amelia' for the main character in the story. I was really surprised to start reading and to realize I had seen this story before!


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."