Monday, May 21, 2018

My Past Year's Reading

Someone recently asked me about what I was reading now that I had more time as a retired person, and I could only think of the one book that I read in paper format during the daytime – Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. But I read every night for anywhere from an hour to four hours from my Kindle, because I can’t hold a paper book for long without my hands going completely numb and becoming too painful to bear.  So I was curious and looked at my Amazon Kindle content list to see what I really had read in the last 12 months. I may have missed one or two. In addition to reading new books, I also have reread books for several reasons – such as wanting to reread a book read years ago before seeing a movie or TV version, or seeing an article about a previously read book that reminds me of something I liked about it, or just wanting to savor really good writing (like that of Patrick Rothfuss and Laurie King) again. The list has lots of mysteries and science fiction and some fantasy. At this particular moment in time I am rereading Greg Bear’s Moving Mars a science fiction book that has a lot to do with cutting-edge theoretical physics.

New reads (not in order of reading)

The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Traitor Born (Secondborn Series Book 2) Amy A. Bartol
Secondborn (Secondborn Series Book 1) Amy A. Bartol
Extinct (Extracted Trilogy Book 3) RR Haywood
Executed (Extracted Trilogy Book 2)  RR Haywood
Look for Me (D. D. Warren) Lisa Gardner
Take Out, Margaret Maron
Fugitive Colors (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 8) Margaret Maron
Past Imperfect (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 7) Margaret Maron
Corpus Christmas (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 6) Margaret Maron
Baby Doll Games (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 5) Margaret Maron
The Right Jack (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 4) Margaret Maron
Roar of the Storm (The Fracture Worlds Book 2) Adam Burch
Song of Edmon (The Fracture Worlds Book 1) Adam Burch
Only the Rain, Randall Silvis
The Birthday of the World: And Other Stories, Ursula Le Guin
Before We Were Yours: A Novel, Lisa Wingate
Duel to the Death (Ali Reynolds Book 13) J.A. Jance
Still Dead: A J.P. Beaumont Novella, J. A. Jance
Proof of Life: A J. P. Beaumont Novel (J. P. Beaumont Mysteries) J. A. Jance
Man Overboard: An Ali Reynolds Novel (Ali Reynolds Series Book 12) J.A. Jance
Glass Houses: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel) Louise Penny
Y is for Yesterday (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) Sue Grafton
Excise (Dr. Schwartzman Series Book 2) Danielle Girard
Fast Falls the Night: A Bell Elkins Novel (Bell Elkins Novels) Julia Keller
Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets of Donald J. Trump Shannon Wheeler
The Color of Fear (A Sharon McCone Mystery) Marcia Muller
All the Little Children, Jo Furniss
Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice, Shannon Elizabeth Bell
Death in Blue Folders (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 3)  Margaret Maron
Death of a Butterfly (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 2)  Margaret Maron
One Coffee With (A Sigrid Harald Mystery Book 1) Margaret Maron          
The Sparrow: A Novel (The Sparrow series) Mary Doria Russell
The Star (The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke Book 3)  Arthur C. Clarke
The Perfect Girl: A Novel  Gilly Macmillan
Lockdown: A Novel of Suspense  Laurie R. King
What She Knew: A Novel  Gilly Macmillan
The Wiregrass: A Novel,  Pam Webber
Lost in Arcadia: A Novel,  Sean Gandert
The Fall: A Dark Victorian Crime Novel (Anna Kronberg Mysteries) Annelie Wendeberg
The Lion's Courtship: A Dark Victorian Crime Novel (Anna Kronberg Mysteries Book 1) Annelie Wendeberg
Silent Witnesses: A Dark Victorian Crime Novel (Anna Kronberg Mysteries) Annelie Wendeberg
The Devil's Grin: A Dark Victorian Crime Novel (Anna Kronberg Mysteries) Annelie Wendeberg
Into the Forest Jean Hegland
The Good Samaritan John Marrs
Collapse Annelie Wendeberg
Ice (The 1/2986 Series Book 3) Annelie Wendeberg
Fog (1/2986) Annelie Wendeberg
Cut (1/2986)  Annelie Wendeberg
Terminal Event, Robert Vaughan
A Tangled Mercy: A Novel Joy Jordan-Lake
Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky Book 3)  Veronica Rossi
Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky Book 2) Veronica Rossi
Cold Days (The Dresden Files, Book 14)  Jim Butcher
Ghost Story (The Dresden Files, Book 13) Jim Butcher
All the Lies We Tell (Quarry Book 1)  Megan Hart
The Last Chance Olive Ranch (China Bayles Mystery)  Susan Wittig Albert
The Last Chance Matinee: A Book Club Recommendation! (The Hudson Sisters Series 1) Mariah Stewart
The Mutual Admiration Society: A Novel, Lesley Kagen
Ocean of Storms, Christopher Mari

The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss
Three-Day Town (A Deborah Knott Mystery Book 17) Margaret Maron
A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet Book 1) Madeleine L'Engle
B is for Burglar: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery Sue Grafton
A is for Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery Sue Grafton (after Grafton died it seemed necessary to go through the series again)
Glory Season, David Brin
Keeping Watch, Laurie R. King
Moving Mars, Greg Bear
Lord Peter Views the Body: A Collection of Mysteries (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Book 4) Dorothy L. Sayers
Folly, Laurie R. King
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
The Sound of Broken Absolutes (Heaven's Vault Book 2), Peter Orullian
Trial of Intentions (Vault of Heaven Book 2), Peter Orullian
The Unremembered (Vault of Heaven Book 1) Peter Orullian

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Secret Language of Families

I was in college when Patty Hearst was kidnapped - she and I were about the same age. I vividly remember an opinion piece in a newspaper commenting on the fact that when she had a chance to communicate with her family Hearst had no secret family phrases to use to indicate she was okay or not okay. The writer seemed to think that this indicated an impoverished family life among the Hearsts. At the time I thought that the writer was being absurd - my family didn't have any private language, any unique and secret phrases with which to communicate to each other, and my family life was just fine.  

I realized many years later that I was wrong. My assessment that my family was "just fine" may have glossed over many issues, and my family did have its own secret language. First, my mother taught us to use many expressions and phrases from her rural Virginia childhood that were not known to the families around us. If we asked a question about something that she thought was none of our business, she told us it was a "larose". We would respond "What's a larose?" and my mother would reply "Laroses catch meddlers make fiddlers bite."   Also my brothers and I created extensive store of idiosyncratic phrases and terms we used among ourselves. 

One of the first things that I noticed about both of my husbands' families was the language quirks and unique phrases that they used. Often trivial things like everyone in Russell's family referring to the local grocery chain as the "Giant Beagle" rather than "Giant Eagle" that helped build a secret family language code that bolstered family cohesion, or John's family using phrases like "round by Rheinhart's" (Rheinhart's was a store in a remote area of Greene County, TN where John grew up) to indicate going out of one's way.  

In the nearly 25 years that John and I have been together as a couple, we have developed our own family language. Each of us has brought things from our own childhood - John understands the "larose" call and response pattern, and when I have to take a round about route I call it going "round by Rheinhart's".  We've also built a huge store of unique words and phrases out of our own experience as a couple. 

Some of these come from absurd things said or done by our students. John had student many years ago who persistently misspelled abdominal crunches as "churches", so we both now refer to that exercise activity as doing churches. My first year at Southeast, I had a student from Seco - a very small town I drove past every day on the way to work - who turned a class essay into a misogynist rant against the young ladies of his town who wore dresses that were so scanty as "might as well have not bothered to wear".  From that day forward, John and I refer to any dress that leaves a lot of bare skin as a "Seco dress". 

Early in our relationship John and I were talking about accents, and how neither of us grew up speaking a "standard" English dialect.  We were joked about whether anyone in real life grew up speaking like network newscasters speak, and I said: "yeah, some guys I know who grew up in Columbus, Ohio talk like that!"  From that moment on we started calling that bland newscaster accent "Columbian" in contrast to "English" which John swears is only spoken by folks in northeast Tennessee (where he's from) or neighboring southwest Virginia (where my dad is from). 

I don't know if this habit of coining unique words and phrases used only within the family is universal, but it is certainly quite common. 

June 19, 2018

I'm so excited.  I finally found several references to my mother's favorite phrase to deflect our inquiries as children: "larovers to catch medlers" and "layovers for meddlers"  are varients of what my mother would say.
 I'd never found anything before because I always included her full phrase which included "make fiddlers bite." But for once I thought, let's just look for the initial phrase and viola - many articles appeared!