photo of Mary Lou Taylor

Bringing Home the Moon

We all have much to learn. Always with a twinkle in her eyes, Mary Lou Taylor helps us do this and much more in her latest book of poetry, Bringing Home the Moon.

Long ago, but not far away at Monta Vista High School, I found myself in front of classes of high school students. Next door was another teacher, Mary Lou. I learned more from her, and from my students than they did from me. We have now been friends now for decades. Her new book captures her life and ours.

…”We don’ talk, my father and I content together at this ungodly hour….”, or “… Selling the house. Buying a new one…”.

She reflects on our history—“The Valley of Heart’s Delight” and “Heart’s Delight Turns Silicon”, the place we both still live. And even on “Driving Bohlman Road’, the challenging road to our house.

She explores the globe and beyond—“Drinks after Dinner, Osaka”, and even the universe ”…Christa McAuliffe, scheduled to be the first teacher in space, looks upward to gaze at the face of the sky.”

She probes the inner thoughts we all have.

It is well worth traveling these hundred pages with Mary Lou. She is all of us. She will help you find your voice.

Blogging U: Day 1 – “What is Veiling?”

Cover of book What is Veiling?I just signed up for Blogging U sponsored by WordPress.com. This is a four week course with daily assignments to help people find their voice for writing on their blogs. Since I have a blog and am also setting up a couple of websites for groups who are also looking at ways to post their information, I thought it might be a good idea to see what I could learn.

This is the first assignment. It is to do free writing for twenty minutes without anything particular in mind to get loosened up. So here goes.

I am going to start out with a book I am currently reading. I am about done with it and would like to post a good review on GoodReads. The book is titled What is Veiling? By Sahar Amer. It is a wonderfully eye-opening look at the varied ways in which Muslim women wear, or do not wear, a veil. As a westerner, I like many others, have little knowledge of this long-standing custom that has come under such scrutiny in the last few decades. I know the custom is somehow associated with the Muslim religion, but until I read this book, I had no idea how it has evolved and changed over the centuries. When I stop to think about it, it is not so foreign. Until the last few decades Catholic nuns have followed the custom too. I have even thought about how practical it would be on bad hair days.

The term veiling is a general term that has many nuances and many differing ways of manifesting itself. The book includes a glossary of many terms that are used for different ways of veiling, often varying by country, class, and social status, that may include anything from robes and face veils that completely cover the body, to a scarf draped over the hair. And it is done by women for many different reasons, from piety to taking a stand for liberating women to dress as they would like to.

As a result of reading this book, which is thorough, non-judgmental, and presented by a woman who is both Muslim and a scholar, I have learned much and am fascinated to learn more from Muslim women I encounter. They, like the rest of us, are concerned about the same things we all face. I would definitely recommend this book as a good read indeed.

I had no idea what I would write about when I started this about twenty minutes ago. And I am going to post this unedited, which is not what I usually do. I usually start this way, let an article sit a day or two and go back and try to tighten it up. But this is fun! Hope you look up the book.

My review of A History of the World in Twelve Maps

A History of the World in Twelve MapsA History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

October 23, 2014 – Why am I still reading this book after more than two and a half months, and I am only two-thirds through it? I have asked myself this question. This is not an easy read. The author shows himself to be very erudite, maybe to a fault, and uses words I have to look up. (And I taught high school English for sixteen years). He is so scholarly about the minutiae of history that I am sure only graduate students could be interested. But yet it is fascinating. It puts me into other times and other great minds that were motivated by the same things I see on the evening news—politics, science, religion, money, power, technology. It shows the human struggle over the millennia to communicate new knowledge in new ways. Although I only read a few pages a night, how can I put down a book that illuminates the minds of others who have shaped our present knowledge? How modern they seem in a world that is still exploring ways to map our universe.

Update 2/14/2015 – Finally finished last night. I could only manage a few pages a night, but I could not stop reading this lengthy tome. Little by little it shed light on the process of creating maps; but more importantly, it revealed the challenges of mapping a globe on a plane and the human motivation to create maps. From Ptolemy to Google it expanded my universe. I will never look at a map in the same way again.

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The World According to Bob

The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise CatThe World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat by James Bowen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This feel-good book makes for great bedtime reading as it chronicles the episodic journey of Bob, an alley cat, who discovered and became a best bud of the author, a recovering addict. These unlikely British mates knew the streets and rose from selling magazines at the Angel tube station or busking in Covent Garden to being book writing celebs. Nice to have the occasional read that doesn’t make you think too much and has a happy ending.

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Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection

Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and ConnectionKindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection by Sheri Speede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. The author’s life and the lives of the chimpanzees are bittersweet. She withholds none of this from us and shows us how to follow our hearts. I savored this book one chapter a night and always looked forward to what would come next. As a bonus I learned a little about Cameroon, a part of the world about which I knew very little. I hope there will be a sequel–a Speede return.

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