Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Harvest For Hope

Harvest For Hope

Sunday right before adult Sunday school my chum Kathy gave me a
book: Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating by Jane Goodall
which she had received from her daughter. It was perfect timing. The
weekend edition of the Bangor Daily News was informing Penobscot
County residents that a history making blizzard was on the way, due to
arrive Tuesday. My husband had me call for a heating oil delivery
Monday. I was ready. A warm home, food, a contented lap cat, an
informative and inspiring book to focus on. Mother Nature could bring
it. I was so ready.
When I woke up this morning my husband was out plowing. He
called on the phone to say that our son and I would have to shovel the
porch every hour if we didn't want the volume of snow to pin the door
shut, cutting off access to the outside. The snow on the ground was
up to my knees. No end in sight. I was only too happy to settle into
my favorite reading chair with coffee and the book. Joey cat was only
to convert me into his mattress.
Harvest for Hope was published in 2005. Sadly the message it
conveys is exponentially more urgent a decade later. To a large
extent, right sized farming has given way to big ag with a focus on
short term profits over enivonmental and human health and
sustainability. We, the other species we share the Earth with, and
our planet itself are in dire danger...
...unless we rise up to change things.
Harvest of hope is a wonderful combination of professional
expertise and personal passion. Goodall has researched for decades.
She knows what she's talking about. But she hasn't forgotten how to
relate to people who don't have the benefit of her background. In the
first chapters of the book she looks at how our current methods of
procuring and consuming food have evolved. In the following ones with
pretty scary titles like Animal Factories: Farms of Misery and
Ravaging the Oceans and Seas she shows what we're up against. Big Ag
is pretty formidable, particularly when they have government on a
leash. "All this and more makes grim reading, and while I was working
on this book I had nightmares as I learned more and more about the
unethical conduct of some of the largest multinational corporations."
Fortunately Goodall doesn't think we've gone too far. Yet. In
chapters like Taking Back Our Food she spells out many steps we can
take to fight the monied forces against us. As a school committee
vice chair I found At Home and At School: Feeding Our Children truly
inspirational. The last sentences constitute a clarion call to
action. "...So let us join hands. Let us speak out for the voiceless
and the poor. Let us assert our rights, as citizens of free
democracies, to take back into our hands the production of our food.
Let us, together, sow seeds for a better harvest--a harvest for hope."
We owe ourselves, our children, our fellow sentient beings, and
the fragile, precious planet we dwell on nothing less.
Harvest for Hope is an excellent book club selection as my book
club will learn in September. I plan to host at Orono Community
Garden and feature organic veggies for snacks for what should be a
memorable evening.
On a personal note, I have awhile to go before I learn about grad
school. Joey cat had to have surgery last week but he is mending
beautifully and seems to be feeling so much better. I think he is
really enjoying this day of companionship. The history making storm
is definitely living up (or is it down) to its potential.
Great big shouts go out to Joey's vet, Dr. Julie Keene, whom I
privately call the cat whisperer; my Methodist angels--Kathy, Janet,
Alma, and Charlene--who never fail to encourage and inspire me; and
the gazillions of people experiencing the blizzard with me.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Material World

Material World

Adult nonfiction
The date was November 22. Two days after I took the audience at
UMaine's Got Talent by storm with my poem Silver Foxes I got to ace
Millers Analogy Test. Then I walked downtown to volunteer at the
library. Only my friend Janette Landis was about to stop by the Front
Porch Books Christmas party and wondered if I'd join her.
Front Porch Books is in a cozy sun lit room over a garage.
Going there is more like visiting a friend than going to a store. And
once a year when they add fancy cookies and hot spiced cider. Yowza!
I wasn't planning to buy anything. I had very little cash on me. The
place is browser friendly. But there it was set on a little easel
with a ray of sun lighting up its cover, the book of my dreams,
Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel. I actually
had my credit card on me because I needed it as standardized test ID.
I gave in to temptation and violated my cardinal credit card rule:
use only for medical, dental, and vetinary emergencies.
Of course such a book had to be saved for just the right time.
Tonight, December 30, the house is cozy and warm. I've served supper
with no more chores to hand. Lights are sparkling on my lovely
Christmas tree. My Eugene gave me some of his prime chocolates filled
with caramel and nuts. We're talking divine providence here.
Material World lives most excellently up to its promise. It is
the fruit of an ambitious endeavor--an attempt through photographs and
revealing statistics to capture some of the people we share this earth
with and get us thinking about the gap of possessions and
opportunities between the rich and poor societies we live in.
"It is tempting to say that these photographs speak for
themselves. Yes, they do, but only if the reader looks care and
keenly at the wealth of detail presented on every page, noting the
different landscapes, the dwellings, the family sizes, the dress, and,
above all, the dramatic array of each family's material goods, large
or small, laid out in front of the house. Finally, there are the
faces of our fellow human beings, expressing pride, sadness,
weariness, curiosity, and all the other emotions that the camera can
capture..."
If you're anything like me, you'll find Material World
captivating. You get to meet "average" families in 30 countries as
they work, go to school, worship, play, and celebrate special events.
It's like a trip around the world unmarred by obnoxious tourists and
overpriced souvenir shops.
However, if you're anything like me you will also find it
disturbing. The family picture in Bosnia, for example, includes two
armed U.N. soldiers who are not kin. You see very young children
playing sniper because that's what they've grown up seeing. Families
in countries like Etheopia are desperately poor. In a very telling
two page spread titled toilets of the world some countries don't even
show out houses.
Menzel wrote the book out of a conviction that in an
increasingly interconnected world it's important for people to learn
about the lives of folks in other countries. He closes it with a
quote by Albert Einstein. "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can
only be achieved by understanding."
Truly those are words to live by.
On a personal note, I take a day between writing a review and posting
it. Somehow that makes spelling and grammar errors easier to see.
Well I have had the most delightful day possible. I spent it with my
daughter, Amber, and her fiancée, Brian. Amber and I crafted. She is
very talented. And we all ate together. That was the Christmas
present I asked for and the best they could give me. :)
A great big shout out goes out to you, my readers. Have a safe and
happy new year.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Everything I Need To Know About Love

Everything I Need To Know About Love

Picture book
Well the day after Christmas I received in the mail the third in
Diane Muldrow's nostalgic Everything I Need To Know series:
Everything I Need To Know About Love I Learned From a Little Golden
book.
You probably have fond memories of Little Golden Books from your
younger days. Some of us made them part of our kids' childhoods.
Affordable and accessible, for many kids they were the only books of
their very own their families could afford.
Everything I Need To Know About Love.... is another great stroll
down memory lane. Sweet thoughts are paired with illustrations from
our favorite little Golden books: The Color Kittens, Tawny Scrawny
Lion, The Jolly Barnyard, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Nurse Nancy... A
1951 Eloise Wilkens drawing of a boy bringing a heart shaped box to a
house where a little girl watches through the window tells us "Love
makes you bold!" Garth Wiliams 1956 picture of two wide eyed rabbits
instructs us to, "Be ready to take a chance..." My personal favorite,
a family of four cleaning up from a meal reminds us that, "But mostly,
love blooms in life's day-to-day moments."
If you know a Little Golden Books affecianado this would be a
perfect Valentines Day gift.
On a personal note, I want to wish my readers a (safe and) Happy New
Years and a year full of blessings. I shall stay up til midnight
reading near my beautiful Christmas tree and eating candy with Joey
cat on my lap. I'm enjoying the last few days of tranquility til life
gets more hectic.
A great big shout out goes out to my readers who stuck with me this
year and the authors who provided wonderful books that I could
review. Let's see what 2015 brings.
Julia Emily Hathaway



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Monday, December 29, 2014

Timekeeper

Timekeeper

YA fiction
Quite awhile ago I became enchanted with a wonderful time travel
novel called Timeless. In the spirit of the Christmas season I reread
it, enjoying it every bit as much. Then I realized that I actually
had the sequel: Alexandra Monir's Timekeeper. YOWZA!
In Timeless, protagonist Michele, following her mother's
unexpected death, moves from California to New York City to live with
her estranged grandparents. She receives a mysterious gold key that
allows her to time travel and meet some rather fascinating woman
ancestors. She also meets and begins a serious relationship with her
soulmate, Philip. There's only one hitch. His time line is a century
before hers.
Timekeeper takes off where Timeless leaves off. There is a new
boy in Michele's twenty-first century school who she believes to be
the reincarnation of her Philip. Only he is clueless concerning their
back story. Throw in two more complications. Michele's own birth may
be the result of time travel. Also a vindictive woman from the long
ago past has entered her time with the intent of destroying her.
There is enough back story to enjoy the second but I would
strongly encourage anyone new to this series to get both books and
indulge--chocolate highly recommended.
On a personal note, I hope my readers who observe Christmas had a
wonderful day. I know I certainly did. Katie slept over Christmas
Eve so she was there to open gifts with Adam, Eugene, and me. In the
afternoon we went to a wonderful extended family gathering where we
talked and ate and indulged in two lively Hathaway Christmas
traditions: the Yankee swap and the indoor snowball fight using fuzzy
cloth snowballs. Cole really got into that. As a result some of the
snowballs acquired dog slobber. No one minded. Lots of pictures will
amuse us all well into the New Year.
A great big shout out to my sister-in-law, Cheryl Hathaway, the
organizer and hostess with the mostest of the holiday family get
together.
Julia Emily Hathaway




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Monday, December 22, 2014

Monique And The Mango Rains

Monique And The Mango Rains

Adult non fiction
Kris Holloway's Monique And The Mango Rains is an older book
published in 2007. My older daughter, Amber, gave it to me after she
used it as a college textbook.
I adore the book. As a Peace Corps volunteer Holloway spent two
years in a small village in Mali, assisting Monique, a midwife. With
very little education and under conditions we wouldn't let our animals
get treated under Monique delivered babies after giving their mothers
prenatal care, treated malaria, gave shots, taught basic health...was
the end all and be all when it came to health care for the many people
who could not afford a hospital in another town. Holloway and Monique
became close friends. The tone of the book reflects their mutual
caring and respect.
Holloway is candid. In Mali, as in many parts of the world, too
many women die in childbirth because of uncontrolled bleeding or
infections. Lack of clean water kills malnourished children by
diarrhea. Can you imagine a maternity clinic that can't be used
during the rainy season because of holes in the roof?
But there is a lot perpetually busy busy busy Americans,
bombarded with electronic trivia and starved for true connectedness
can learn from more traditional cultures. Contemplating her return to
the United States, Holloway muses, "...I loved living in an inviting
community, where you were always asked to share food and drink, where
you spent time greeting and joking rather than avoiding others because
of a busy schedule. Generations intermingled, there was always an
excuse for celebrating, and death was sad, but not feared."
On a personal note, I have good grad school news. I was invited to do
a select application which means no application fee and guaranteed
scholarship consideration. I have done that by email, sent for
undergrad transcript, contacted my references. I have nearly $500 in
the credit union towards expenses. If all goes well I'll be back in
school in September.
A great big shout out goes out to other moms who are deciding what to
do with their lives after raising their children. Don't stop
believing in yourselves.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Language Inside

The Language Inside

YA fiction
Well my cleaning project of going through my books and putting
the ones I'm keeping in order in bookcases is going really well. I
now have one shelf all in order and (thankfully) about a gazillion
books to go. It has been a great sanity saver for a week with no kids
to home, Adam being away doing Wreaths Across America. It gives me a
perfect excuse to read near the lovely Christmas tree, one of my
favorite seasonal activities. And I'm finding some gems such as Holly
Thompson's The Language Inside. I am amazed that I didn't read it
last year when it came out since it's in free verse (poetry being my
first language) and is about cultural difference and adaptation which
I'm totally into.
Japan is home for Emma. It's where she has grown up, where she
has set down roots. So when her mother is diagnosed with breast
cancer and her family flies to Massachusetts to live with her
grandmother so her mother can be treated in Boston Emma is in for
quite the culture shock. She's starting the school year thousands of
miles from her close friends. The crowded former mill town with its
clumps and rows of houses is nothing like the peaceful countryside
she's used to. She desperately misses the ocean. Even her
grandmother's American food tastes hopelessly bland in contrast to the
cuisine she's accustomed to.
Emma also feels guilty to be in America when she's sure she's
needed much more in Japan. She was there in school when the country
was rocked by an earthquake. Some of her relatives had their homes
all but wiped out by the ensuing tsunami. One of her aunts is still
missing. She finds it enormously frustrating to be literally on the
other side of the world when she longs to be with her loved ones,
helping them put their lives back together.
All is not bad in America, however. She begins to volunteer at
a long term care place, helping a poet who has been crippled by a
stroke. She meets a very special friend whose mother lost much of her
family in Cambodia. She discovers a way to use her love of dance to
raise money to help her loved ones in Japan.
Then when she has to decide whether to return with her father in
January or stay with her mother and brother til the end of the school
year she feels split in two.
This is a very fine novel told in what I believe to be the
finest format for story telling.
On a personal note, the tree is up with lights and a few ornaments on
it. It looks really lovely. There is only bare space on the side I
see from my reading chair. I forgot where I put my favorite mostly
cross stitched ornaments. I've been doing an archaeology dig in the
bathroom attached to the master bedroom which doubles as storage space
and finding some. Then tonight I remembered the ornaments I stitched
last winter: a snowy owl, a rocking horse, a Teddy bear, a snowman,
and the word mom surrounded by flowers. All I have to do is put them
in their frames and finish the ornaments I'm working on now. I'll be
all set even if I don't find the rest til next year.
A great big shout out goes out to you, my readers. I hope this
holiday season is bringing you a maximum of joy and a minimum of
stress. :)
Julia Emily Hathaway


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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Summer at Forsaken Lake

Summer at Forsaken Lake

Juvenile fiction
I'm a big fan of Michael D. Beil's Red Blazer Girls series. I
was thrilled to see a book of his with a decidedly different flavor.
Summer at Forsaken Lake is a poignant coming of age story with a male
protagonist discovering his family's past while staying for the first
time with his great uncle at the home where his father once spent
summer vacations.
Nicholas and his obnoxious younger twin sisters are sent from
their New York City home to a rural lake in Ohio to spend summer
vacation with their great uncle. Their mom is a workaholic and their
dad is in Africa serving on Doctors Without Borders. Even though his
friends predict that he'll have the most boring summer of his life,
Nicholas is looking forward to the trip. His father has told him the
old house and the lake are "full of secrets."
At least one secret is quick to reveal itself. A secret
compartment in Nicholas' tower room contains a spiral notebook and a
tin containing an old reel of movie film--evidence of a teen project
of his father, Will.
There's also a cryptic letter to Nicholas' then teenage father
from a girl to whom he gave her first kiss. What was the incident he
took the blame for, requiring him to leave early?
Why did he not finish the movie? Could this girl possibly be the
mother oh Charlie, the girl whose curveball Nicholas finds it
impossible to hit?
Summer at Forsaken Lake combines a page turner of a mystery with
a delightful look at young folks out sailing, bike riding, toasting
marshmellows over a campfire--enjoying the same stuff we did in the
good old days.
On a personal note, Eugene brought home a lovely Christmas tree from
his wood lot. It took a couple of days for it to lose its clumps of
ice and dry off. Now it is lovely with just the colored lights.
Tomorrow I will start adding ornaments. I do so love having a
Christmas tree in our home and putting treasured ornaments on it for
the most magical, mystical time of the year.
A great big shout out goes out to my Eugene for bringing home the tree.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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