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Archive for February, 2016

North of here, South Carolina, tons of snow is being forecast. In Columbia there may, underline, highlight, put in bold, may be a few snow flurries. Aud wants more. Angus doesn’t really care, but he says he requires cold for the benefit of his wool. He’s even standing outside right now, in the rain, with his noodle arms out to to the side, eyes closed, basking in the ‘brisk air’. If that’s what he wants to do, far be it for me to stop him. I’m not gonna do that.

As said, Aud is lamenting the lack of snow and cold.

“You do remember what happened the last time. The power went out.”

“And I was warm. I didn’t go to work. I had a very pleasant two days of rest and recreation and nothing, blissful nothing. Just you, Angus, and me.” She gives a happy sigh.

“The trees outside were icing up and dropping their limbs. One could have landed on the roof.”

“And none did. Why are you being all gloomy? Don’t you like snow?”

I do like snow. I don’t like mushy snow and I don’t like freezing rain and sleet. “It didn’t snow,” I reminded her.

“No it didn’t. But I want it to snow. It’s not like it’s going to snow buckets, I mean feet. I’m happy with an inch or two.”

I can handle an inch. Where I was born it snows in feet and when you’re little, like me, that’s way over my head, but still it’s doable or I’ll do what plenty of my kind do and find some fellow pals and fall asleep in a bundle of kitty fur.

Aud and her sister want to have a house with a wood stove so that when it gets cold and the power goes out they have heat and they cook food. I’m liking that idea too. They’ll probably move to some place colder where the chance of snow is greater. I bet they’ll regret that decision the first day they have to drive around in it. As for me, I’ll stay home and sit by the stove and keep warm and dry.

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Fact: You’ll never leave the Rez. Fact.

Seventh-grader Lewis is fortunate to be in the upper section of his class, but that means being the only Indian among his peers and white and Indians don’t mix. There are two whole different worlds in upper New York. There’s the Rez, the reservation where Lewis lives in a run-down house, and the white world where many don’t like Indians. One who hates them is Evan, a bully in school no one touches.

Enter George, the son of an Air Force pilot who’s love of the Beatles and everything Paul McCartney unites the two, Lewis and George, into a friendship.

Lewis is a Tuscaroa Indian and the author is a member of the Onondaga Nation who lived on the Tuscarora reservation giving the book a more authentic feel. I’ve read Sherman Alexi’s books and this is a nice addition to the few few young adult/chlidren’s Native American books by Native peoples. The book shows a slice of America many don’t see since the media and the schools focus more on the plight of other minorities. Unless you live near a reservation or have passed through one, you won’t know it exists.

The bullying described in the book I recognized in my own school. I’ve seen it myself, teachers looking away, ignoring it, even denying it. Even when you try to keep the room bully free, you miss it. But what was worse was when you did deal with it, the bully gets off free, privileged for whatever reason.

I’m a fan of the Beatles and Paul McCartney & Wings so I related to that aspect of the story as well as to the George, an Air Force brat (Army for me.)

The novel is well written. I really felt the embarrassment Lewis had when he didn’t want to invite George to his house because its half falling apart. They can’t even use the kitchen anymore.

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Christmas Newsletters

Yes, I know, it’s February and I’m writing about Christmas Newsletters. It’s just that I got one recently and it made me think of my sister’s newsletter, the one she sent out last Christmas. We have relatives in Germany and in the Czech Republic. Both my sister and I are proficient in German, but not at all so in the Czech language. Fortunately the younger cousins know English and some of the older cousins know German so we do okay. When I write my newsletter to them I first write my aunt, in German, then tailor it to the others.

I always write it in a word processor because that’s easiest. After I do my first draft with its audacious grammar errors, a few misspellings, and the odd English word tossed in, I use a dictionary, on-line and print, to polish it, as well as a  German spell checker. Grammar wise is a bigger problem. I never did well in grammar. Either I let my mom read it and correct it or I let it go.

My sister, it seemed, wrote in English. I was rather surprised when I heard that, but so be it. This particular Christmas she decided to use an on-line translator, the most popular one I assume. She wrote her newsletter in English, copied it in the translator, and viola. Finished. And off she sent them.

At Christmas time when my aunt called she asked what my sister had done. After hearing the explanation she said the newsletter had been very interesting and apparently very entertaining. My sister got the same response from the people in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately no one ever said what was so interesting and entertaining, but my sister said she was never going to use the translator again.

I wish I had this story to tell to the kids at school. I can’t say how many times I’d see someone typing away on the computer and having their words translated from English into Spanish, doing it the easy way and thus not trying to learn the language. I could have told them the result may not be what they expected.

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The Coffee Machine

Recently I went to the car dealership to get my car serviced. It’s one of those have-to-things that I don’t mind doing unlike the ordeal of getting my hair cut. That I do mind doing, but since I don’t like long hair, I drag myself over to the beautician and get it done.

At the dealership they used to have a small cafe with goodies to buy. That disappeared, not that I minded. I only bought something there once. They did keep the popcorn machine with the free popcorn and the complimentary coffee. On this day, since they’d made fresh popcorn, I got myself a bag. After eating it I found myself thirsty so I walked over to the coffee only to find myself faced with this huge contraption, a box half the size of a soda vending machine.

Was coffee no longer free? No, it was still free. I studied the options – espresso, latte, cappuccino, hot water, and two more buttons that made little sense. I’m used to the two button coffee dispensers – regular and decaf. The one time I walked in a Starbucks, I spent maybe three minutes in it because there were many choices and I didn’t the menu items. All I’d wanted was an ice coffee.

But I would not be deterred. I wanted a coffee, I was going to get a coffee. Since one of the options was milk related I stuck the cup under the nozzle, clicked over the items, selected one and waited. I got a half inch of creamer. Okay, so that wasn’t working right, but I thought if I added something from the latte that might work, as long as nothing overflowed. I pushed more buttons, found a caramel option and pushed that. Coffee colored liquid flowed out. I felt pleased. I felt like I accomplished something in mastering the coffee machine. I even went for a second cup.

As I sat close by, a gentlemen came by and he too stared at the machine. “Now how do I get a cup of coffee?”

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Sarah dreads the five interlopers into her world. If her father didn’t need the grant money, she wouldn’t have to deal with the teens whom she feels don’t belong. It’d be just her and her dad and Theo, alone in the Kalahari, a semi-desert in Botswana, Afrcia. Theo is a bushman and probably one of her best friends even though he’s so much older than she.

When their guests arrive it’s been only four months since Sarah’s mother’s death and things can’t get worse. But they do. Her father and Theo drive off in search of local poachers. After they’re gone, the camp is destroyed.  It’s her and the interlopers trying to find her father and Theo and trying to escape the silver stalking them.

I’m not one for reading all the book descriptions on the flap so I began the novel thinking it a story of six teens alone in the Kalahari desert, excuse me, a semi-desert, a place I have on my travel wishlist. Even though it wasn’t the story I expected, lost teens, I found the story more captivating and riveting. It’s on par with a James Rollins and Clive Cussler with its unexpected twist.

The descriptions of the Kalahari was so that I could visualize it. I might want to take this book with me if I ever get to go see the real thing. There’s a lot of attention to detail which I enjoyed.

Another plus for me is that Jessica Khoury is a South Carolina author. I can’t wait to read her other books.

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