Friday, April 2, 2021
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Monday, March 8, 2021
Friday, March 5, 2021
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
DECEMBER- a series of books by various authors feature cats in the title One I bought for a $1 at a 2nd hand shop is CAT DECK THE HALLS, by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, a Joe Grey Mystery
JANUARY - CAT OF THE CENTURY, RITA MAE BROWN (Cats in the title and a calendar/date reference)
FEBRUARY - A fun series from years ago and romantic for VALENTINE'S DAY: GRIFFIN AND SABINE, a recent popular novel - A Fall of Marigolds is also a LOVE story A Serious Read for BLACK HISTORY MONTH: non-fiction - CASTE, b Isabelle Wilkerson
MARCH - WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH so so many to recommend but my latest is a non-fiction biography PELOSI by Molly Ball Excellent Read and timely
APRIL - A book I enjoyed many years ago that is good for EASTER is THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, a different take on Easter - The Easter Rebellion in Ireland has many good books
FOR EARTH DAY - I RECOMMEND: DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET BY Frances Moore Lappe - another oldie but goody
MAY - MOTHER'S DAY - Any book about the mothers of the WOMEN'S REVOLUTION: a new biography of Gloria Steinem
JUNE - ANY BOOK ABOUT THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, BUT IF YOU HAVE NEVER READ IT TRY A TALE OF TWO CITIES "TT was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was a time very much like the present."!
JULY - THE BRITISH ARE COMING in time for 4th of July 4th
AUGUST - NATIONAL MOUNTAIN CLIMBING DAY - I recommend an author John Krakauer who wrote Into The WILD, and Cheryl Strayed who wrote WILD about her hike of the Pacific Coast Trail
SEPTEMBER - Napoleon's entrance into Moscow: If you have never read it WAR AND PEACE!
OCTOBER - HALLOWEEN: If you have never read it try: FRANKENSTEIN by MARY SHELLEY (and you can always read a biography of her famous mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, for Mother's Day! in May)
NOVEMBER: I recommend reading any books of current history about Native Americans and I loved SMOKE SIGNALS, BY SHERMAN ALEXEI and also LOUISE ERDRICH
And we are back to Christmas - every year read A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES by Dylan Thomas! It is lovely
Happy Holidays book lovers! email@example.com
HISTORY LOVERS AND THOSE WHO LOVE NEW JERSEY CAN PROBABLY THINK OF A BOOK TITLE FROM THESE SUBJECT AREAS FOR EACH MONTH - GO FOR IT!
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Monday, February 1, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Saturday, January 9, 2021
Friday, January 1, 2021
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
Friday, September 18, 2020
Saturday, August 22, 2020
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Monday, August 3, 2020
After we all saw the bodies hanging from the overpass in Juarez, we began to become aware of the murderous pathology that had infected the politics and economics of Latin America.
It was a sad eye-opener to watch the three season series, which was about 30 episodes and very detailed. It was all far far too complicated for me to try to summarize, by the way the corruption spread upwards like a kind of social gangrene, was interesting to see in a map kind of way.
Needless to say there were many profound thought inspiring aspects to this film series as well as to the political and social world the series portrayed. It is a work of art, not a documentary, but sometimes they are the very things which touch on the ineffable, the hard to see, hard to comprehend things.
One repetitive aspect that was occurring to me was the answers to the question: What is the best way to live to be happy?
To the drug lords, it seemed to reside in willful domination over others, power through emotional manipulation and intimidation as well as bribery, expensive accessories such as Rolex watches, sports cars, the acquisition of as many 'prize women' as possible, into a kind of harem with beautiful models and celebrities at the top of the list. The material goals were far more than these, and so were the desperately clever strategies to capitalize on an opportunity to achieve the means to get those goals. A big one was the goal to be "The Boss." Kind of like a one god only model.
I couldn't help by contrast that philosphy with more Eastern ones like Buddhism, where the main goal is to recognize your mind, comprehend your thought patterns and de-throne them so that you can achieve peace through inner power rather than outward materialism.
And then, the other contingent weighs in, the reformers who devoted their lives to worthy causes to support and assist their fellow human beings.
The same argument falls into the history of the Quaker religion, when the individual spirit, direct communication to god from within, revelation oriented Quakers came to debate with the orthodox Quakers who wanted a kind of imposed conformity and a profession of spirituality through action rather than say, meditation.
I don't claim to know the answer or to even think there is one, but I have tried most of these approaches at some point in my life and I have become what I am, a simple, solitary, somewhat materialistic human (as in I have a house and a car and pets), and I do manage to fall into periods of meditative state periodically throughout my day. I have felt spiritual yearning from time to time in my life, but conventional denominations and church groups were unappealing to me and I have serious and well-thought out opinions on such things as 'holy books' or 'spiritual leaders,' or even the 'one god' concept. I can appreciate it as a unifying force in society but utterly irrelevant and superstitious seeming to me.
What would I think is a good life at this moment? Well, I try to think of the things I have done that I feel were good - my long career in education, raising my daughter, managing to independently buy a small, humble, but utterly comfortable house, I got educated and I still educate myself, I seek to understand other people and the world around me and I have values I hold to be high oral ones that eventuate in good for the most people, abstract concepts that reveal themselves in law such as justice, equal opportunity, fair play, honor in making agreements, and so on. Also I believe that right behavior begins at home in kindness and compassion towards the animal companions who come into your life, understand an support for family and friends.
Well, I didn't want this to get too long, so that's a good enough start. By the way, we don't have the old standard "Crime Doesn't Pay" for no reason. Depending how things evolve over time, I believe that crime doesn't pay in the real things like peace,, happiness and a sense of self worth. I am sorry for those who are denied by circumstance the opportunity to have a long relationship with the joy of those things.
Sunday, August 2, 2020
In 1852, an ambitious and high motivated young teacher came to Bordertown, New Jersey, from Massachusetts. Her name was Clara Barton. The community gave her a ramshackle little one room building to begin the first public school. On the first day six children showed up and they all pitched in to clean up and ready the school for more. Clara Barton's efforts eventuated in 500 students. She was so successful, that she was put under the supervision of a male administrator which outraged her, as it should, so she left to found first the registry of wounded and dead during the Civil War, and finally the Red Cross.
My point with this blog entry, however, is that there were models available to us to use as temporary solutions during the pandemic.
My idea is that a group of PTA type parents and retired educators could form a cooperative. If there were, say four teachers, on hourly tutoring wages, and a set of perhaps ten parents, A teacher could meet at the backyard of the Brown family on Monday and tutor in (if it were me) English, Art, and History. On Tuesday the small group of 5 to ten students could meet at the Green family backyard for Math and Phys Ed. Whys Ed could be croquet, while ball, bad minton, and if there is a pool, swimming and pool safety.
On Wednesday, a parent volunteer and chauffeur could help the tutor take the children on field trips to, for example, Red Bank Battlefield for a history lesson, Bivalve for a science lesson, Funny Farm for a lesson in science, the planetarium (I think there is one at Glamssboro) for astronomy, There are literally hundreds of small museums and historical societies and nature centers like the Palmyra Nature Center, that could be used as learning destinations.
I think this could actually be done with three tutors! Possibly even with two! I know I, personally, could do History, Art, Literature and Language Arts, and probably lower level Science. A Science tutor could perhaps handle pays ed.
The Home Schooling folks could teach everyone a lesson in how to do education on your own. Don't get me wrong, I think children are better off in school and that home-schooled children miss a o, including exposure to diverse cultures and personalities, however, in times of pandemic, home-schooling could offer us a way out of children not having any education.
And by the way, home tutoring was the only education until the 1800's. One room schools came next.
Some of the advantages of the home-tutor idea aside from safety from the danger of large groups confined in building which we know makes a perfect way to spread corona virus, would be children would have more one to one attention, and tutors with small groups would be better able to get them to wear masks! Taking temperatures could even be a way to teach health and science!
Heaven knows there are plenty of talented teachers who have retired who may be willing, on a temporary basis and hourly tutoring wage, to do such a thing. Detrimentals would be the fear of litigious and fault finding parents. There would have to be some legal involvement to begin with because there is always a parent who would become aggrieved over something or other who would see an opportunity to go to court like going to the bank.
The parent group would have to be carefully selected, as would the tutors. There would have to be some protection for the home-owners as well for the same reason. And there remains the bathroom issue. My suggestion would be a team of parent chaperones who could help with bathroom issues and lunch (although a brown bag from home would be best for this, especially in view of nut allergies and so on).
In the Sunday New York Times today there was an article on POD SCHOOLS which sparked my idea of home-schooling models. If the tutors were paid even a generous hourly wage, it could be supported by a contribution arrangement, so for example, a $50 an hour, could be covered by - well, I can't teach math and trying to figure out that cost per 10 families, for example, is already making my head tired. We would need a treasurer/accountant. If you had a truly cooperative group, probably most supplies could be individually supplied by the parents for each child and some plan for students who have low income families like a scholarship.
Needless to say there would be some risk for the tutors even with such small groups and if a teacher is retired, she or he probably is old enough to have some of the health concerns related with aging, high blood pressure and such. Lots of legal releases would need to be drawn up and signed.
Just an idea that creative and energetic parents and teachers might like to consider! I have always loved the one-room school model in education history, and I have done a bit of tutoring for enrichment, privately, as well as the full range of home-tutoring when I was still employed I did English as a Second Language, home-bound tutoring for students absent for medical reasons, and many community ed night classes as well as Lab School experience. One of my favorite courses at Glamssboro State College for my first Bachelor's degree was in ALTERNATIVES IN EDUCATION! Back in the 1970's this creative approach was very popular and many models for learning came from it.
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Saturday, August 1, 2020
At one time, Bivalve was a busy, wealthy, thriving community of oyster fishermen, and rich people's summer vacation homes. Hundreds of box cars rolled in and out of Bivalve each day carrying oysters to Philadelphia and New York. It was a golden harvest until the mid 1950's when a bacteria was brought in via bilge water in ships and infested the oysters and killed them. Almost overnight the devastation destroyed the oysters, the communities that built up around the harvest of them.
My dear friend and fellow history buff, Barbara Solem volunteered to drive me down to Bivalve to see the new exhibit, a temporary exhibit of relics brought up from shipwrecks along the coast. Some of the most interesting items pointed out to us by the tour guide were round bottom bottles designed to keep the corks wet by not standing upright on flat bottoms, and a ships telephone in almost pristine condition, giant lobster claws as large as baseball its, some beautiful china, cutlery and many other items of interest.
I didn't think I would ever get back to Bivalve because it is an hour and a half from my house and not many would be willing to go there. In the past, when I drove, I could persuade people to go with me but now that I can't drive that far (old car - 14 years old and 200,00 miles on her) it isn't possible for me to go to many of the far away places I once loved.
I was a tour guide at Bivalve for a couple of years till my car began to suffer from its old age and I didn't feel safe driving so far anymore.
BIVALVE is a kind of ghost town with a boardwalk and a series of old shops for sails, ships engines, a post office, a shucking shed and an oyster cafe among others. That's on the land side, on the water slide there are decks and we were able to sit at a table out there and eat the lunch we bought at a Wawa we passed when we hit the bottom of Route 55. It was so cool on the docks, a brisk breeze came in off the water and we sat beside the remains of the old masted schooner CASHIER which has been slowly and sadly sinking into the mud and disintegrating. The wheelhouse of the old Cashier was rescued, but sadly there was never enough money to dryadic the Cashier itself and make the necessary repairs which became or of a millions of dollars project of replacement than repair.
Fortunately, this being as Saturday, we did not run into shore traffic. The tour guide told us the traffic is mainly bad on Friday nights and Sunday nights. We hit one or two slow spots due to a flat tire repair in one lane, and a bottle neck where 55 forks and the left side becomes 322 to Denisville. The way home was entirely traffic free.
Something about the lonely, even ghostly quality of the place spoke into my heart and I became infatuated with that place. I read everything I could get my hands on about it. Many of my old entries are about books I read abut this most southerly part of New Jersey, the old SOUTH JERSEY magian the history one, not the new travel one, and many books like MAN, THE SEA AND INDUSTRY, andTHE MAURICE RIVER. I was captivated by the story of the old man who all his life wove the baskets they used by the thousands in the oyster industry. I saw a photo of him from the WPA days, sitting in front of his little one room house, weaving the baskets. For some years I tried to find one of those baskets to buy but no luck. When I found them on-line, they were too expensive.
As much love and happiness as I experienced there was also a feeling of sadness for the day when I was a volunteer there and got to go every week and spend time there. It made me aware of how trapped I have been during the pandemic, and even before, by my failing eyesight, bad knees, and old car. My roaming and adventurous days have come to an end and I miss them.
When I went there in the old days, I took all kinds of turns and side streets to explore the area, I roamed freely with hours of free time since I was retired and had no reason to hurry home, no dog waiting for dinner, no schedule to keep, such freedom, It was one of those times you think will never end but they do.
Much thanks to the generosity and friendly love that brought my friend Barbara Solem to volunteer to take me there and share the day with me. As we ate lunch on the dock, the cooly elegant Meerwald schooner came slowly gliding along like a swan. I took photos and after I rest up, I will post some here.
If you haven't been there, you should really go - you won't be sorry, and there are no crowds! But you must wear a mask! Entrance fee is $5 for seniors and $7 for general public. If you aren't vegan or vegetarian, you might want to have lunch on the docks with something from the oyster Cafe' which is what the family we saw visiting that day were doing. Other than that family lunching on the docks it was quiet there as I always remember it being, and peaceful. What a lovely day and a great friend to spend it with.
Barbara Solem is the author of three books on the history of the PineBarrens so we share a love of old places and history. Other places I miss dreadfully are Pakim Pond, and the Maurice River Bluffs where I used to hike and take Captain Dave's boat ride. "Those were the days, my friend I thought they'd never end..."