Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mah Jongg

I am learning to play Mah Jongg.  I've even surprised myself--I've never had any desire or frankly any time  to learn this game, but everyone in my bi-weekly lunch group plays after lunch.  Some people play several times a week; some play almost every day. I've decided maybe I should play, too.

My mother had a Mah Jongg set and sometimes she and my sister and I would play a few hands.  Usually my sister won.  She still plays Mah Jongg and I imagine she still wins.

Because of that experience X number of years ago, I was somewhat familiar with the various tiles, but everything else about the game was lost in dim memory.  So I'm learning all over again.  Last week I sat in on my friends' game.  A few days later a fellow resident loaned me her old set.  I've ordered a card, a book on Mah Jongg for beginners and signed up at a website called Mah Jongg Mentor.  

Will I like the game?  Who knows?  Will I be a good player?  Again, who knows?  But it seems like a good idea.  We'll see.  Maybe when my sister and I are on vacation together next month, she will give me some tips...but that might cut into our vacation Scrabble tournament.

I will post again next month on the progress of my Mah Jongg journey.  


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Books of May

Summer isn't even here but May was summery, too summery, so what better way to beat the heat than to stay in a nice air-conditioned space and read?  I'm still reading parts of long books so I only finished two books in May.  Here they are:

God Save Texas:  A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State
Pulitzer Prize winning author (The Looming Tower) Lawrence Wright takes readers on a journey through Texas, from the biggest cities to desert-like West Texas.  He says Texas is really two states:  AM Texas and FM Texas.  Find out which you live in by reading this enjoyable book.  Maybe you have to be a native Texan like me to really, really enjoy it, but anyway, give it a try.


Brother of the More Famous Jack
A book group selection.  The heroine is taking a course in philosophy when she happens to visit the quirky family of her philosophy prof. She becomes a frequent guest there, falls in love with the oldest son and the story goes on from there, from her years in Italy, her return to England and so on.  I personally didn't care for the book.  I found the family not just quirky but rude.  If my children spoke to me the way these kids speak to their parents, I'd put them out for adoption.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Books of April and The Great American Read

Aha!  I think I've figured out how to access pictures, so here's my book cover for May.  I only finished one book because the others I'm reading are extremely long.

What if Sherlock Holmes were a woman?  And so was Watson?  In this book, they are.  Interesting, but not the greatest read.


I heard about the Great American Read while listening to the radio in my car and watched the opening on PBS.  This is apparently going on all year.  They showed a list of 100 books that have been nominated for the Best Novel (OMG, the list included Fifty Shades of Gray...could the people who nominated it think this was the Best Smutty Novel?) Anyway, you can go to www.pbs.org where you can find the list of 100 best books and vote once a day for any book you think is best.
The list included Jane Eyre, The Outlanders, Another Country, The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, Charlotte's Web, Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, Beloved, The Color Purple, and of course Fifty Shades of Gray. (I voted today for To Kill a Mockingbird).  You can also sign up for the Great American Read book club and also the newsletter.
Happy Reading!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Quote for the Week

Since tomorrow is my birthday, this poem seems an appropriate post:

I am not Old
by Samantha Reynold

I am not old, she said.
I am rare.
I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.
I am the retrospective
Of my life as art.
I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense.
I am the fullness
Of existing.
You think I am waiting to die...
But I am waiting to be found.
I am a treasure
I am a map,
And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey.
Ask me anything.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book Club: The Movie

Couldn't find a picture--sorry.
I went to see the movie "Book Club" with a friend...from my book club, where else?  I was enthused about seeing actresses who are past their prime--Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen.  They play a group of friends who have been members of a book club for years.  Jane Fonda's character has never married and has been a successful businesswoman who owns a fancy hotel.  Diane Keaton's character is still mourning her husband who died a year ago and whose children treat her as if she's ancient and incompetent.  Candice Bergen is a federal judge whose ex-husband is engaged to a cute young soon-to-be trophy wife.  Mary Steenburgen is married but she and her husband haven't had sex in months because he's apparently lost interest.  Then one day, Jane passes out copies of Fifty Shades of Gray and their lives are transformed, their sexuality reawakened and off they go to have fun in bed.  I thought it was funny and so, apparently, did the group sitting behind us, who absolutely howled with laughter at every funny line.  That pretty much ruined the humor for me because I kept glancing back at these loud laughers.  Anyway, when the show was over, I decided it was rather funny, but now I've changed my mind.  I think it was contrived, and embraced Fifties' views of women.  Spoiler alert: Each woman ended with the man of her dreams--Jane Fonda, whose middle school boyfriend and one true love turns up at her hotel; Diane Keaton, who stumbles over her seat mate on a plane to Arizona.  We see him leering as she tumbles over and soon they are falling in love; (He's a pilot so he can fly anywhere she is.)  Candice Bergen meets a nice man through a dating service, wishes her ex a happy marriage and decides the dating-service guy is just right for her; Mary Steenburgen's husband's interest in sex is suddenly revived and they are on their way, presumably, to have a glorious night in bed.  My problem with the movie's premise:  Is every woman's life fulfilled by a man?  Is that the only real life goal for women in today's world?  I don't think so.  Maybe one of many goals but not the only one.
Note:  I read Fifty Shades and it didn't transform my life.  Not that Ud mind if my middle school boyfriend whose name I can't remember or a charming pilot turned up, but I've been a widow for twelve years now and I think I've managed pretty well.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope all the Moms out there had a wonderful day.  I did.  We celebrated with brunch at my daughter's.  (Since I'm the honoree, I got the bring home the leftover half of the strawberry pie.) We had sandwiches and salad and admired my daughter's new living room couch.  

It's nice to be a mother, especially when your children are adults.  I remember being terrified of the responsibility when we brought Lori, our first child, home from the hospital. I remember my first day home with Michael.  My neighbor took Lori to the pool but she insisted on coming home to Mommy.  When she arrived, plumbers were making a hole in my bathroom ceiling to fix some sort of problem in the apartment above us, Michael was screaming and now I had two crying children to quiet.  I remember when Lori, age 4, convinced Michael, age 2, it would be a great idea to draw all over my bedroom walls with lipstick.  I remember story time and charades at night, indoor picnics on the living room floor on rainy days, making green eggs and ham (minus the ham)  in our kitchen and our monthly Surprise Outings.  I'd love to have one of those early childhood days over again.  On the other hand, I would not wish middle school on anyone, nor would I want to go through it again.

I asked my children if I needed to apologize for anything I did during their childhoods and my daughter said, "No, I think we turned out all right."  So do I.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

JR

Joyce Roberta Miller Alper died on May 1 from ovarian cancer.

JR, as she preferred to be called was a friend.  Not a close friend, but I considered her a friend nevertheless.  For the past three years, she and another friend have been my High Holiday companions.  All of us were widowed and had no one to go with--one with children who attended a different synagogue, one with children out of town.  Last fall, when Beth Yeshurun, our congregation, was flooded, JR and I made our way to Landmark Church, the home of Joel Osteen, to celebrate the New Year in a different location but with the same tradidional service we were used to.

JR was a remarkable person.  She was a dedicated teacher who received numerous award, once becoming a finalist for the National Teacher award.  She published, spoke at conferences, and even after she retired from Spring Branch ISD, she continued teaching at the Houston Community College.
She was also involved in politics, friends with people in both parties, active in campaigns, and never uncomfortable about expressing her opinion.  In fact, that was one thing I admired about her.  She was forthright and willing to stand up for what she believed was right.

She was a world traveler.  Her home was filled with items she collected from all over the world.
Last year, after her cancer was in what proved to be a temporary remission, she was awarded a grant to interview Korean War veterans, and she traveled to South Korea to learn more about the country where so many lost their lives.  She even traveled to the DMZ and crossed into North Korea, something that few Americans have done.  I so admire her for that.

She was terrified of needles and of doctors and postponed getting medical attention, probably too long, when her cancer reoccurred this this year.  That fear, unfortunately, was her one major weakness, but I'm sure she died on her own terms, so like JR.

JR was a strong, energetic, vibrant person who will be missed by many, including me.  May she rest
in peace.
 

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