August, by Dorothy Parker

Our August poem comes to us from Dorothy Parker, courtesy of Poemhunter.com:

When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart;

Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces’ pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by. 

Between the Lines Book Club: Our Book for August

Welcome to the August edition of Between the Lines Book Club! Our next meeting will be held via zoom at 10:30AM on August 22. We will be reading the fascinating memoir, From Protest to Resistance by Lilli Segal.

From Protest to Resistance tells the story of a young woman who grew up in Germany, married a Lithuanian, became a citizen of the Soviet Union, and worked for the Resistance in Paris in World War II. She was captured and survived Auschwitz. Lilli describes her experiences with humor, conviction, and an eye for detail.

We will be joined by Lilli’s niece, Margo Kaufman. It is sure to be a fascinating discussion. Please join us!

A couple quick announcements

I guess for August my special project should be figuring out the new WordPress. Change is bad! Why must they baffle me? Why are there all these new buttons and still no spell check?

I’m happy to say there will be two book clubs this month:

On Saturday, August 8, Librarian Brendle Wells and I will be hosting Between the Covers Romance Book Club with the Sacramento Public Library via zoom. Our book is The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon. This book was incredibly popular and yet I felt nothing – join our zoom chat and explain what I missed! Click on the link above for info.

On Saturday, August 22, at 10:30AM Between the Lines Book Club meets via zoom. Our book is From Protest to Resistance, by Lilli Segal. We are very excited about this! Check out Friday posts for more about this amazing book!

Remember when we thought we had all this extra time because of quarantine? I feel pretty busy, don’t you? I hope everyone made it through July and is having a happy August, getting out in nature as much as you safely can and reading to your heart’s content! Love you guys!

Answer July, by Emily Dickinson

Emily always comes through for us – here’s a poem for this month!

Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—

Nay—said the May—
Show me the Snow—
Show me the Bells—
Show me the Jay!

Quibbled the Jay—
Where be the Maize—
Where be the Haze—
Where be the Bur?
Here—said the Year— 

I hope you are all finding safe ways to get outdoors especially in our cooler mornings and evenings. We are missing our regular trip to San Diego so I guess I’ll have to spend more time exploring our own river here in Sacramento. Stay well, Readers!

Between the Lines Book Club: Persuasion Discussion Questions

Between the Lines Book Club is back, and we are reading Persuasion by Jane Austen! We will be meeting via Zoom on July 25, 2020 at 10:30AM.

Here are some discussion questions. These questions are from jansa.org, and I may add some more prior to our meeting. Consider these as you read!

Persuasion is often described as “autumnal.” Why? How does “autumnal” describe Anne Elliot’s situation? Jane Austen’s?

  1. Consider the opening of the novel. What does it tell the reader about both the characters in the novel and the condition of Britain in 1815, the year Persuasion is set?
  2. What values do Sir Walter Elliot and Elizabeth represent? Captain Wentworth, the Crofts,the Harvilles and Benwick?
  3. How are Sir Walter’s values displayed through his words and actions? Consider his relationship with his tenants, those who work for him, and each of his daughters.
  4. What do Sir Walter’s fiscal problems suggest about the condition of the upper class and aristocracy in Britain? Does Sir Walter recognize his failures?
  5. How are Elizabeth and Mary like their father? How are Mary Musgrove’s values displayed through her words and actions?
  6. What is Austen’s own view of the two, and how is it conveyed?
  7. Jane Austen described her heroine in a letter to her niece Fanny Knight (23-25 March 1817), “You may perhaps like the Heroine, as she is almost too good for me.” Do you agree?
  8. What arguments are there for Anne’s having listened to Lady Russell eight years earlier? How does Anne view this persuasion by the end of the novel?
  9. What does the navy represent in the novel? Compare and contrast the two worlds of the novel: the aristocracy and upper class on one hand and the British navy on the other.
  10. The characters are subject to different types of persuasion. Who is persuaded by rank/class/family connections? Who is persuaded by self-interest? Who is persuaded by self-importance?
  11. Does the novel embody a feminist viewpoint? Consider Anne’s conversation with Harville. Consider Mrs. Croft’s character and actions.

July Tarot: Tarot and Poetry

I don’t know about you guys, but July is kicking my butt and as of writing this it’s only July 10. With that in mind, this month I have links for you! By the way, WordPress just changed…everything, so until I take the time to figure out the new system I’m not doing much with images over here. Curses, new system. Curses.

OK, first off, here’s a wonderful article by Benebell Wen on Poets and the Tarot. I highly recommend Wen’s book Holistic Tarot which is comprehensive and amazing!

Here is a link to Classic Tarot Poems You Can Read Online, from a blog by the editors of Arcana: The Tarot Poem Anthology

Want to go shopping? Check out The Poet Tarot and Guidebook. I have this as an app but I think it works better as an actual, physical deck. It uses poets and writers for creative inspiration!

Message me if you would like a reading!

Between the Lines Book Club is Back!

Hello everyone! We will be meeting via zoom for the foreseeable future. Our upcoming book is Persuasion, by Jane Austen. We will meet to discuss it on July 25, 2020, at 10:30AM. If you haven’t gotten the zoom invite, let me know in the comments.

Persuasion is a complicated book. Here is a list of the characters in Persuasion and their relationships to each other. In reading Austen, pay attention to who is related to whom, and how they address one another! Also, note ages – this book is unusual among Austen’s novels for having a romance between a couple in middle age, and everyone’s ages take on great importance as the book progresses!

Persuasion – Characters

Ages Given Where Known

Anne’s Family

Sir Walter Elliot, Bt: (Age: mid fifties) Anne’s dad, a widow. Likes Mrs. Clay, a widow. 

Elizabeth Elliot: (Age 29): Anne’s older sister.

Anne Elliot:  (Age 27) Our heroine. In love with Wentworth.

Mary Musgrove: Anne’s younger sister. Married to Charles, who proposed to Anne, was shot down, and then proposed to Mary, who accepted. Is a hypochondriac with several children.

Charles Musgrove: Mary’s husband.

Little Charles: Son of Charles and Mary. Breaks his collarbone, causing Anne and Wentworth to finally reunite.

Louisa Musgrove (Age 19): Charles Musgrove’s sister. Likes Wentworth but ends up engaged to Benwick.

Henrietta Musgrove (Age 20): Louisa’s sister. Likes Charles Hayter (her cousin), then likes Wentworth, then likes Charles again.

Lady Russell: A family friend who is Anne’s surrogate mother.

The Renters and Their Friends

Sophia Croft: (Age 38) Captain Wentworth’s sister and Admiral Croft’s wife. Has happy marriage.

Admiral Croft: adores his wife, admires Wentworth, his brother-in-law

Captain Wentworth: (Age: 31): proposed to Anne many years ago and was rejected. Likes Louisa, then likes Anne again. Ends up with Anne. Is Sophia Croft’s brother.

People in Bath and Lyme

Mrs. Clay: (Age: in her 30s): widow who charms Elizabeth and Sir Walter but might end up with William Elliot.

Captain Benwick: was engaged to Captain Harville’s sister, who recently died. He was devastated, but then seemed to like Anne, and promptly ended up with Louisa. Is a friend of Wentworth and Harville.

Captain Harville: Friend of Wentworth and Benwick.

William Elliot: distant relation and heir presumptive of Sir Elliot. Originally it was hoped he would marry Elizabeth, then he married a rich woman who died, now he likes Anne and also wants to distract Mrs. Clay from Sir Walter. Might end up with Mrs. Clay. 

Mrs. Smith: (Age 30): childhood friend of Anne’s. Widow of friend of William Elliot’s, who will not help her. Gets help from Anne and Wentworth.

Review of Jane Austen Tarot, and news!

Hi guys! For this month’s tarot post I’m linking you to Smart Bitches Trashy Books where I reviewed A Jane Austen Tarot Deck by Jacqui Oakley. As you’ll see, I loved the art, but this deck tried to be too many things at one time. I’ve enjoyed it as a single draw oracle deck since and will continue to use it that way.

Also some news: I’m in June’s issue of Clarkesworld Magazine talking about isolation in science fiction and in reality. Enjoy!

Between the Lines on Zoom

Those of you who attend the book club at Arden Dimick Library should have gotten a zoom invite from me by now – and if not, or if you connect here but would like to be added to my mailing list, drop me a comment and I’ll add you. We will have an informal zoom meeting on Sat, June 27, 10:30AM. No assigned book, just check in and tell us what you’ve been reading! I can’t wait to see your faces!

Sacramento Residents, please get tested!

photo of full moon

Hello everyone, these are busy and interesting times. I want to share with you that Sacramento County is asking EVERYONE, even people without symptoms, to get tested for Covid-19. It is usually covered by insurance with no copay and only takes a few minutes. I have been assured by Sacramento County that getting this test does not mean that one is taking a testing opportunity from a sick person.

This is NOT the test that determines whether you have antibodies. It only tests whether the virus is in your system. It’s important for the county to get as many people tested as possible so that they can map the location and progression of the virus. You get results back in 2-5 days. These results are used to determine things like who the State can re-open, and when, and where.

I was nervous because I heard that the test is uncomfortable but actually it was very easy. You put a cotton swab about an inch up your nose on both sides. It’s very easy to get an appointment and while the test wasn’t something I’d do for fun it wasn’t painful either. The test I had is being offered at Cal Expo – other sites still use a longer swab.

For more info and to make an appointment,

https://www.capradio.org/articles/2020/06/02/sacramento-county-everyone-should-get-a-coronavirus-test-symptoms-or-not/

Here’s info about this less invasive test for the faint of heart (seriously it was so easy):

https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article243244396.html

And here’s a link to the form you fill out to make an appointment.

https://www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19/eligibility/

Covid-19 is a worldwide and national issue but it’s also a social and racial justice issue. The disproportionate number of Black and Latino people who have contracted and died of the disease is yet another manifestation of systemic, institutionalized racism. Any of us who have the privilege to get tested owe it to ourselves and to everyone our communities to do so.

On a personal note, this will be a very quiet blog month! Don’t worry, I’m just rebooting for the summer. Love to you all!

Always Know where Your Towel Is

photo of Douglas Adams
Today is Towel Day, an international day of celebration when we remember the late, great Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy among many other works. Adams’ work influenced a generation of writers and humorists and also got me in trouble a lot in junior high when I tried to read his stuff during math class and always got caught because I would laugh out loud.

Towel Day is inspired by one of Adams’ mottos: “Always know where your towel is.” As detailed in Hitchhiker’s Guide:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

Thank you, Douglas Adams for teaching us not to panic, even if the dolphins abandon earth, which could happen at any moment. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Between the Lines Book Club: Books About Immigration in California

between the lines book club logoThis month our book club is reading The Other Americans by Laila Lalami. If possible we’ll meet on May 30th, but since the library is closed at least until May 22 we are having a discussion right here in the comments section. What did you think of this book? Did the pacing work for you? What about the romance? Did you guess who done it? Who ARE the “other Americans”?

If you enjoyed this book try these other books about immigration in California:

Fiction:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otuska

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Nonfiction:

The Distance Between Us, by Reyna Grande

The Devil’s Highway,  by Luis Alberto Urrea

Funny in Farsi, by Firoozeh Dumas

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Eliza Doolittle Day!

Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle, selling flowers

This week is an auspicious one, for Wednesday, May 20th, is Eliza Doolittle Day, as foretold by Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Celebrate with singing, with proper elocution, with chocolates, and by witnessing the execution of your enemies. Well, at least have some chocolates.

 

Between the Lines Book Club: All About Laila Lalami

between the lines book club logoThis month we are having book club right here in the comments section! The library will be closed at least until May 22 and I’ll keep you updated if I get any new information. Our book is The Other Americans by Laila Lalami.

Lalami was born in Rabat, Morocco in 1968 and moved to the United States to attend college in 1992. She is fluent in French, Arabic, and English, and uses English as her writing language. Her novel The Moor’s Account was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and The Other Americans was a finalist for the National Book Awards.

In this essay, Lalami talks about speaking and writing in different languages.

In LitHub, Lalami talks about growing up, writing, and other topics.

And here’s an interview: