Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two Books, an Interesting Read

Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier (1938)
Rebecca's Tale, by Sally Beauman (2001)

I first read Rebecca many years ago. Who could forget that first line--last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again... In order to read Rebecca's Tale, which starts with the same sentence, I went back and re-read the older novel first so that it was fresh in my mind.

The first book is told in the voice of Max de Winter's second, never-named wife and focuses on his first wife, the dead Rebecca. The poor little nameless and quite colorless narrator, unprepared for her life at the great estate of Manderley, struggles to deal with the gothic forces around her, and always with the memories and stories and theories and mysteries surrounding Rebecca, her life, and her death.

The second book is told in the voices of four people--Colonel Julyan, a man near the end of his life who is coming to terms with the choices he has made; Terence Gray, a young man trying to find out about his mysterious connection to Manderley's past; Rebecca herself, through a series of journals that she has left behind; and Colonel Julyan's daughter, Ellie.

With their changing points of view we learn about different facets of each character and events that are remembered and interpreted in different ways. The living struggle to understand the lives of the dead.

Again and again, I was reminded of all the knowledge and memories that are suddenly gone when we lose someone in our own families. Things that are "known" might be founded on misunderstandings or misinterpretations. After my own mother died I began to dig through the family history, always wishing that I could turn to her and simply ask the questions that I was left with. I even found out that her whole family's surname had been legally changed back in 1915, so that my early research had been chasing up the wrong family tree, so to speak.

So many questions, so many lost memories, so much misunderstanding. It's a wonder that we have any idea at all of the histories of ourselves and of our communities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More "Old Shale" Baby Blankets

Here are more baby blankets for charity, numbers 14, 15, and 16. Will they ever end?

I'm trying to use up the yarn stash, which is why that red is in the middle of that blanket. It shouldn't be there, but maybe the baby will like it. Wait, new babies don't talk, so maybe she won't be able to complain about it for years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The First Annual George and Alan Calendar

I may be just hanging around here quietly moaning and healing my new knee, but I've been looking out for y'all. (Remember, that's how we talk here in Little Texas). I've taken care of your entire Christmas shopping list for you and you can easily get a wonderfully unique gift that will work for everyone, right there from your comfy computer chair.

Linda, over at the 7MSN Ranch, has just completed the First Annual George and Alan Calendar. If you haven't met George and Alan yet, you are in for a big treat. They are the sweetest little rescue donkeys you've ever seen and the best introduction to them is Linda's series of photos called The Burro Ballet.

So, George and Alan will be starring in a new 2009 calendar, which you will soon be able to purchase at Cafe Press. Here is what Linda has to say: I'm going to donate any and all proceeds from the calendar to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, the largest donkey rescue in the United States with facilities located across the country.

What could be better? Pictures of George and Alan, backgrounds supplied by scenic New Mexico, and everything done by Linda, who you practically know? Plus, the proceeds will be going to a wonderful cause. Christmas shopping just doesn't get any better than this.

Linda is just now going over the first printing to be sure that everything is absolutely perfect. I will let you know the minute that the calendars are available for purchase.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Elder Storytelling Place

I hope that you are familiar with The Elder Storytelling Place, a blog maintained by Ronni Bennett. It is a wonderful compilation of writing by older bloggers and I read the stories every day. That is, I have read them daily until lately when, for some reason, people have neglected to submit fresh material. I believe that this is because we have all been so caught up in the campaign and the election.

Please set aside some time to wander through this great collection, then go to this page which will explain to you all that you need to know in order to submit your own story--fiction or nonfiction. It's as simple as sending an email and you will be pleased to see your story in "print."

Let's all be sure that this great resource continues. You are the one that Ronni has been waiting for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

That Knee

Hurty. That's a nice word that was in one of the children's books I used to read aloud to the kids in my library before I retired. It was used in reference to "hurty feelings" in Helen Lester's delightful book of the same title. These days I use that word for my knee. Hurty.

And no wonder! I asked the nice physical therapist why my leg bones should ache so much--after all, it was the knee that was replaced. So now I have a gruesome brochure that illustrates all the violent things that were done to me in that operating room. Slit open, bones sliced and shaved, poky things drilled and pounded into the bones above and below the knee joint. Stuff was cemented together and the whole thing was stapled back together. Ah, now I get it. Hurty.

It's better every day and I know from having the other knee done that it will eventually be pain free. In the meantime, I try to whine and moan and whimper when no one is around (oops, cover your ears). Yesterday the staples were removed. Whinge. Another lovely word. Tomorrow, I am done with physical therapy. Another thing I won't have to whine about.

But, wouldn't you know? The computer is acting like one of those horrid frozen ones in the TV commercials for some kind of finally faster software, and it hurts me to sit here waiting for the screen to change. My other blog, Recipes for Ben, is updated automatically every day because I took the time to set it up that way.

We'll get the computer squared away, and I'll get back to regular blogging. We all have a whole new world ahead of us as the result of our wonderful Presidential election. I have a notebook filling up with ideas for new blog posts on The Zees Go West.

I just wanted to thank you all for your comments and encouraging get well wishes. And please forgive me if, as I suspect, this post is a little herky-jerky. It's those pain pills, you know. Auntie Bucksnort says, in that brisk way of hers, that they make me rave like some tiresome madwoman, so I'll just stop here.

But I really, really do thank you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


When I started reading Dreams From My Father; A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama, the author was wrapping up his long campaign for President of the U.S. Just a week later as I was reading the last part of the book, he had become our President-Elect.

The book is divided into three parts: Origins (early days and family); Chicago (what it means to be an organizer on the South Side of Chicago); and Kenya (traveling around the country, meeting his relatives and finding out about African life and culture). I would go from reading about "Barry," as his Kenyan relatives call him, drinking tea outside his grandmother's hut, to watching the excitement on Election Night as the newly elected President-to-be greeted adoring crowds in Chicago and around the world. I couldn't help wondering what that far-flung family was feeling about their boy.

It's a fascinating book, written while he was still a law student, that will give you an idea of the background and character development of the man we will be getting to know even better. You will be there when he meets Reverend Jeremiah Wright and hears his first Wright sermon, entitled "The Audacity of Hope." That is also the title of the next Obama book that I'll be reading.

*seen on a New Mexican bumper sticker shortly before the election. It would translate into something like "let's go for Obama."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hope Wins; How We Heard the News in the Reddest Part of a Blue State

It was fascinating being stuck in a hospital bed for the election and the ensuing returns. I had gotten myself into some pretty brisk conversations around town over the past few weeks when I'd hear something like "Oh, I'd vote for that Obama, but I heard on the radio that he's a Muslim." No matter how I tried to lay out what I saw as the truth, I had the feeling that most of the people I saw on a daily basis would never vote for a black man, no matter what other reasons they gave for their choice.

Now that I was hospitalized for my knee replacement I knew that I was in a weak position and that I shouldn't irritate my caregivers with my liberal opinions, but I got right into it in the recovery room when, through my slowly clearing anesthetic haze, I heard one nurse say to another, "...I heard that he's a Muslim and that he won't salute the American flag." I surprised us all by snapping "he isn't and he does, too!" They must have figured I'd recovered enough and zipped me right on out of there and down the hall to my bed in the post surgery wing.

Once installed in my own hospital room (private, airless, noisy, stinky, never a chance for ten minutes of uninterrupted sleep in three nights) I cautiously approached the subject of the election whenever my nurses would bring it up. I've learned the caution because this is such a "red" place and my mother taught me to be nice to everyone. Let me say right here that my nurses were wonderful and caring and I loved them all, politics aside. But many of them were very fearful of the possibility of an Obama Presidency, believing that he represented some foreign influence, and that he would nationalize medicine and pay them minimum wage. Or that, God forbid, he'd take their guns away or recognize gay rights. Not many of them liked Sarah Palin, but they liked the idea of domestic drilling in the nearby Texas and New Mexico oil fields. They honestly liked that "drill, baby, drill" business and thought it a catchy thing to chant.

However, invisible signals were passed, and those few of us who were Obama supporters were soon known to each other--A young woman (I'll call her Josette), here with her military husband, who was from France and who was aware of how America has lost its reputation among the countries of the world over the past eight years; the African American student nurse assigned to me who was feeling politically isolated here in "West Texas" (I'll call her Emily); and me, a white knee patient in late middle age (I prefer to call it that) who has somehow been lucky enough to be surrounded by liberal and thoughtful people all my life.

When the election results were called and America found that, miracle of miracles, we had a new President-Elect called Obama, I pressed the nurse's call button, hoping to see a blue nurse so that I could share the incredible news. Alas, they sent me an angry looking Texas girl. I was sobbing so hard by that time, watching Jesse Jackson's tear-streaked face in the celebrating Grant Park crowd, that she got frightened and ran off to find Emily. Emily came running, fearful that I had somehow hurt myself or was in some other sort of medical trouble when she heard that her patient was having a fit of wild hysteria.

I managed to get Emily to close the door, pointed at the TV and sobbed "he won!" When she understood what I was talking about I handed her the box of kleenex and we wept for joy together. Josette eventually found her way to us and we all rejoiced, doing triumphant fist jabs, weeping, and feeling great hope on our tiny blue island in the middle of an angry red sea.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Peace (and hope) be with you

I'm off to the hospital today to get that other pesky knee replaced. I've sent in my absentee ballot and will watch the election returns from my hospital room. I hope I'm not too groggy to make sense of what I'm seeing, and I hope that I can remember the names of the battleground states to watch for.

I am full of hope--for my knee, for this election, and for this country.

There's one last thing--this campaign has been so full of memorable words, phrases, and issues (short- and long-lived, meaningful and meaningless)--that I would like to list some of them. In a couple of cases, I've given you the source of the quote, but I'm sure you can work out the rest for yourselves.

We don't want to forget this stuff. Feel free to add to the list via your comments.


bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran


I have the scars to prove it

7 houses? 8 houses?

my friends

Give me a B and an A and an R-A-C-K, O-B-A-M-A (~Obama Girl)

the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull

Willow, Trig, Track, and Bristol

on day one

I need to know if she really thinks that dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago. I want to know that, I really do. Because she's gonna have the nuclear codes (~Matt Damon)


gotcha' journalism

Walmart moms

Caribou Barbie

We are not afraid to get maverick-y in there and ruffle feathers and not got to allow that. And also, too, the great Ronald Reagan (~Tina Fey)

battleground states

lipstick on a pig

flag pin

terrorist fist jab

"In what respect, Charlie?"

Bill Ayers

my friends

eroding the fabric of society

when the phone rings at three in the morning

the Vice President is in charge of the Senate

voter registration drive

thanks, but no thanks, on that Bridge to Nowhere

the change we need

politics of hope

he's measuring the drapes

these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America

gosh darn it

you betcha


what is it exactly that the VP does every day?

may I call you Joe?

raise your taxes

say it ain't so, Joe

Joe the Plumber

Tito the Builder

Joe the Biden

that one

lower your taxes

I can see Russia

when you think about it, Alaska is also near the North Pole, so she must also be friends with Santa (~Jon Stewart)

$150,000 wardrobe

Neiman Marxist

the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick, Prada shoes, a Gucci handbag, and a few $3,000 suits

pro-America areas of this great nation

I'm very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing

can I get back to ya on that?

Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America

misses palin! i want to fly into ur Airspase! misses palin! i want to reer my little Head! (~Vlad and Friend)

cocktail party Republicans

birth certificate?

the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should

guilt by association

broken politics in Washington

I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also

failed policies

why can't I just eat my waffle?

my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage

buying the election


palling around with terrorists

tax plan


voter fraud

choose our better history

my friends

country first

scare tactics

making a big election about small things

Reverend Wright

there are no red states; there are no blue states; there is the United States of America

voted with President Bush 90% (or 95%) of the time

our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of

95% of Americans will get a tax cut under my plan

spreading the wealth around

class warfare

media bias

liberal media

a nation of whiners

he's not ready

he's not ready yet

he's a Muslim

he's a socialist

he's a Marxist

my friends



breaking the country's dependence on foreign oil

voted to teach sex education to kindergarteners

no one is pro-abortion

the fundamentals of our economy are strong

going rogue

grandfather was an African farmer

I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story

in no other country on Earth is my story even possible

we need to internalize this idea of excellence

focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition

one of those defining moments

the change we need is coming

change happens from the bottom up

we are the ones we've been waiting for

we are the change that we seek

now is not the time for small plans

the promise of America

now is the time

yes we can

yes we can

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Comparing the Candidates

You've probably made up your mind about the candidates long ago. However, you might be interested in a side by side comparison of the men, their backgrounds, families, and where they stand on the issues. This website even compares the cars they drive, the books they read (or have written, in Obama's case), and the pets they have (or plan to have).

The site also includes the transcripts of the three Presidential debates and of past inaugural addresses. See Obama-McCain Comparisons.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Women Against Sarah Palin

Here's a website you'll want to check out. It's called Women Against Sarah Palin, and this is what the author says:

We are not in the habit of criticizing women in the public sphere, as we usually feel we should support our female compatriots with as much encouragement as we can. However, Sarah Palin's record is anti-woman. Feminism is not simply about achieving the power and status typically held by men. It's about protecting and supporting the rights of women of all classes, races, cultures, and beliefs. Palin's record and beliefs do not align with this. She was chosen by John McCain specifically because he believes that American women will vote for any female candidate regardless of their qualifications. He is wrong.


On Wednesday, September 3, we sent out an email to 40 friends and colleagues asking them to respond to Sarah Palin’s candidacy as Vice President of the United States. They forwarded the letter to their friends across America. To date, we have received nearly 200,000 responses from women of all ages and backgrounds.


Senator McCain was so wrong in this choice, which gave a short-lived boost to his campaign but, ultimately, will spell out its doom. Be sure to check out the blog and read some of the letters, then pass on the link to any still undecided voters that you may know.