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Documentaries: RBG

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Documentaries:  October 9, 2018

RBG

I watched the other night on Netflix the movie RBG—a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

As a young woman, newly married and busy with babies, I kind of slept through the time when RBG was working to change laws that discriminated against minorities of many kinds, including men whose wives died leaving them with an infant to raise but who didn’t qualify for federal aid in the way a woman would.  She fought for women to be able to control their own bodies.  She fought for women to receive equal pay with men.  She fought for military women to have the same housing allowances that military men received.    She fought…to educate men blind to the inequalities they supported in a democracy.  She fought to put in place legally what the constitution decreed.  She appeared before the Supreme Court many times, defending these principles.

In 1993, President Clinton nominated her for the Supremes.  She had a 90+ approval vote from the Senate, which included, for instance, Orrin Hatch’s vote.

It’s a fascinating story—one women should see, of course.  But also men.  RBG’s history is American history.

Like her or dislike her, she is an amazing woman.  When I compare her character to Donald Trump’s or Brett Kavanaugh’s, I despair.  Trump uses courts to bully people, and Kavanaugh has never actually tried a case in a courtroom.

Now, the court, which has acquired a partisan majority that is backed by only a minority of the American population, is rolling back a lot of what RBG accomplished for minorities—much of which, I would argue, too many people are taking for granted until they discover what they, personally, have just lost.

So, RBG is reduced to being a dissenting voice on the court.  She is no longer a path setter as we roll ourselves backwards to the place where the wealthy control the levels of power in our country.  RBG can do no more than try to hold firm in her convictions about what is ethical, moral, and just in a democratic society.

This movie is important. There is a docudrama about RBG coming out at Christmas time, but this one is solid.  Take some time to watch it, ok?  It’s available on Netflix, Amazon, and UTube.

Written by louisaenright

October 9, 2018 at 10:05 am

Books: Elizabeth Kostova’s THE SHADOW LAND

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Books:  August 14, 2018

Elizabeth Kostova’s THE SHADOW LAND

 

LOVED Kostova’s THE SHADOW LAND, which is set in Bulgaria–a country the American author loves.

The story takes place in a very fraught period in the country, where corruption and racism/antisemitism run rampant.  Violence, of course, comes with intolerance at the behest of power.  But what is encouraging is the human determination to not be smashed in the process.

An old mystery is unraveled as the plot unfolds–and the core of that mystery is eerie reading in our present American moment of Trumpism and Russian interference in our 2016 election, our democracy, and our society.

The novel is beautifully written.  I downloaded the audio version and listened while I sewed.  I’ve put Kostova’s earlier novel, THE HISTORIAN, on hold and look forward to listening to it.

Here is a review–with which I have to say I do not really agree.  We are in an age of speed, and this novel is not about speeding through the plot to get to the reveal.

https://www.npr.org/2017/04/16/522778257/a-strange-odyssey-through-bulgaria-in-shadow-land

 

Written by louisaenright

August 14, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Books: William Kent Krueger’s SULFUR SPRINGS

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Books:  August 4, 2018

William Kent Krueger’s SULFUR SPRINGS

 

SULFUR SPRINGS is Krueger’s 18th book in the award-winning Cork O’Connor series, which are mostly set up near the Boundary Waters and great northwoods area of Minnesota.  I say “mostly” because as some of the novels do, SULFUR SPRINGS moves the major characters to other locations.  SULFUR SPRINGS takes place in the Arizona desert south of Tuscon, where refugees from violence in their own countries try to cross the desert to reach the safety they seek in America.  In the process, these refugees fall prey to all kinds of “coyotes” who seek to use them in some way.  Krueger describes, too, the useless “wall” that seeks to block passage.  And as is true with all Krueger’s novels in this series, there are plenty of plot complications and mysteries to unravel.

I’ve read the series and am now awaiting the 19th book, due out later this month.  I especially like the native American spirituality that runs through all of the series, especially as O’Connor matures.  O’Connor’s grandmother was full blood Ojibwe, or Chipewa, or Anishinaabe.  And, Cork is now married to a full-blood Ojibwe woman, Rainy, who is also a healer.

Here are some quotes I especially enjoyed.  This book is published in 2017, so is written within “Trump World.”

I headed first thing to the hospital…to check on Jocko.  I felt responsible for the beating he’d taken, although I knew it was something he wouldn’t blame me for.  It was just one of the risks of doing the good work of the Desert Angels, which I understood.  The faces of Juan and the women and the children stayed with me.  Maybe they weren’t innocent in the eyes of the law, but there’s something more important than the law, and that is simply compassion.  That might sound strange coming from a man who’s spent a good deal of his life behind a badge, but laws are made by human beings and human beings are not infallible.  We make laws for all kinds of reasons, and not always the right ones.  One of the most powerful motivations for the enactment of lefislation is fear, and when you act out of fear, you risk becoming exactly the kind of monster you’re trying to bar the door against.  I couldn’t help thinking that we were putting those women and children—and the men, too, who came looking for nothing more sinister tha a job and a quiet life—through a monstrous ordeal.  And I understood why Peter and the other Desert Angels were willing to risk everything to help them (226).

And:

A lesson from my earliest memories of my grandmother Dilsey, who was true-blood Iron Lake Ojibwe:  Land is not insentient; it is possessed of spirit.  Gazing down, I couldn’t help feeling that the fence and all it represented was a great violation of the spirit of the land.  The mind-set that gave rise to the fence was a great folly, the idea that a thin wall of steel and the imaginary line it demarcated could stand against the tide that swept across the desert, which was the tide of time and changing circumstance.  Politics were of a moment.  Sentiments shifted. nations rose and fell.  Steel rusted and crumbled.  But the desert and the flow of life across it would continue after that fence was nothing but scattered rubble among the cacti and the fear that built it was long forgotten (236).

And:

I thought about the music I’d heard playing, the dancing in front of the taqueria, the brightness with which the homes, even the shabby trailers on cinder blocks, were decorated.  many of these people worked hard at jobs that no one else wanted and were poorly paid, I was sure.  But it seemed to me that there was something resilient in their spirit, some essential quality that kept the music and the dancing and the color alive.  I thought about the people of my own heritage, the Anishinaabeg, who’d been lied to and cheated and herded onto reservations, who fought against poeverty and all the ills that came with poverty.  But the Ojibwe I knew well, my family and those I counted as friends, had in their spirits the same resilience I saw reflected in
Gallina Town.  And I thought, as I had so many times before, that what’s important to a human being, any human being, isn’t the wealth that comes from money, but the richness that comes from community, a sense of connectedness to family and to friends and, as Rainy and Henry would probably have said, to the spirit of the Great Mystery that runs through all creation (260).

 

 

I am now reading one of Krueger’s stand alone novels, the award-winning ORDINARY GRACE.

Written by louisaenright

August 4, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Books: Recent Books I Liked

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Books:  April 27, 2018

Recent Books I Liked

I’m currently reading William Kent Kreuger’s mystery series (Cork Corcoran) mostly set in the “Boundary Waters” area up on the Canadian border.  Kreuger, from the beginning of this series, has won numerous writing awards for this series.  AND, for at least one stand-alone novel.  I like the strong emphasis on the powerful, spiritual connection that is possible between humans and nature, how wrong the human condition can go for some people, and what is truly important in life.

I have fallen into a pattern of reading. EVERYTHING by an author I like for some years now.  Among these are the series by Elizabeth Ogilvie (Maine coastal people), Laurie R. King (Mary Russel/Sherlock Holmes), and now Kreuger.

I do the same thing, apparently, with the downloads I get from the Maine Library system.  There is something magical about having a book read to you while you work with your hands.  My tastes are eclectic, for sure, and include multiple books by Louise Penny, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Lee Child, Paul Doiron, Karen White, Lisa Gardner, and Sandra Brown.  Those authors with series really need to be read in order.

Recent books I really enjoyed from the Maine download system follow:

A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS by R. J. Ellory.  This author is British, but captures the speech and thought of rural Georgia for decades, starting back after WWI, as the main character grows up to identify and confront a long-time serial killer.  My mother’s family is from rural Georgia, and I did a lot of growing up in her home town, Reynolds, Georgia.  The prose and deep understanding of the human condition in this novel captivated me.  I look forward to reading more of Ellory’s work, which I will have to do as this is the only Ellory novel on the Maine system at the moment.

THE SISTERS by Nancy Jensen.  This novel, I think, is a first novel.  It spans decades.  At times it is slow, but, again, I really liked the development of the characters.  A misunderstanding at the beginning of the novel sends characters along life tracks that develop down through several generations.  I like long novels like this one, so enjoyed it.  Sometimes we don’t really know how our life decisions will work out as they play out over many, many years.

MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFE, Jenny Colgin, is light as a feather and very predictable.  BUT, she includes MANY descriptions of baking goodies along with real cupcake recipes that make your mouth water.  Will get the hard copy of this one and will give to someone in my family who still bakes.

I am currently listening to THE FOLDED EARTH by the wonderful Anuradha Roy.  I love her work.  The NY Times said this novel is “quietly mesmerizing,” which I think is true.  I am enjoying the beautiful prose and the quiet understanding of the complexity of the human condition that is slowly emerging.  We are, truly, a strange and, at times, wonderful, species.

 

 

Written by louisaenright

April 27, 2018 at 10:56 am

Books: Recent Books Read to Me

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Books:  February 28, 2018

Recent Books Read to Me

When I sew, I listen to downloaded books from the Maine State Library online system.

Three recent books I listened to are worth sharing.

First, APE HOUSE by Sara Gruen, author of the popular WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.  I was astonished at the human language acquistion of these apes.

via Book Review – Ape House – By Sara Gruen – The New York Times

 

A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is a first novel that was unexpectedly interesting–probably because it explores when good people fall under the sway of a terrible “strong” man who uses religion to manipulate them.  I’ve long said that belief systems are among the most powerful things on the face of this earth.

Wiley Cash’s “A Land More Kind Than Home” – The Washington Post

 

DEEP DOWN TRUE falls into a lighter vein, but I enjoyed its desire to grapple with some difficult issues.  How does a “nice” person manage when faced with difficult life choices?  Maybe it depends on the depth of the person’s niceness.  Or maybe the person learns to recognize when “nice” isn’t going to work.  And maybe the person learns why her “niceness” formed in the first place.

Deep Down True: A Novel: Juliette Fay: 9780143118510: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

Written by louisaenright

March 1, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Poems: Walking Haiku 19 and 20

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Poems:  February 7, 2018

Walking Haiku 19 and 20

It’s often warm in Maine this winter.  And it’s often really cold.  We have yo-yo weather these days.

As I write, we are expecting a major snow storm, but here on the coast the snow may turn to rain later today.

No No Penny and I had a lovely walk on Monday, the first in some time.

 

19.

February 5, 2018

Hard rain all night long
In February, in Maine
Global warming comes

20.

February 5, 2018

February thaw
Sunshine brims from blue sky and
Sparks fire on the lake

Written by louisaenright

February 7, 2018 at 10:51 am

Posted in Poems

Poems: Haiku 13

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Poems:  December 2, 2017

Haiku 13

 

13.

December 1, 2017

Colors coat the lake
Sky blue, cloud silver, fir green
The sun comes and goes

Written by louisaenright

December 2, 2017 at 10:35 am

Posted in Poems