Between the Lines Book Club: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

between the lines book club logoHello Book Clubbers! As you all know, the Sacramento Public Library is closed at least through May 1. I’ll keep you updated as I learn new information.

However, I hope some of you read Neil Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane anyway, because it’s a fascinating book that it easy to read but deals with some serious themes. The book won several awards, including the British National Book of the Year Award.

Here’s a book trailer:

Meanwhile, if you want to try other Gaiman works but are having a hard time reading (my concentration is shot, personally), Amazon Prime is streaming the series Good Omens, based on the book co-written by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and STARZ has American Gods, based on the excellent novel of the same name by Gaiman. Trailers:



Got Requests?

hands making a heart with sun shining through the middleI am stymied, people. I have no upcoming presentations to announce in the space, obviously. So much entertaining content is online right now from people other than I that I’m at a loss as to what I could add other than my very best wishes for all of you to stay safe and healthy!

So tell me – what kind of content would you like to see in April and May? Poems? Links to funny videos? I’m going to keep posting Between the Lines Book Club entries as I work with the library to see if we can meet online – meanwhile, leave comments!

Love to all of you,


Between the Lines Book Club: Domestic Service in the USA

between the lines book club logoBook Clubbers, we are not meeting in March, but that doesn’t mean we can’t chat online. This month we read Maid, by Stephanie Land.

For some information about the history of domestic work in the U.S., check out these articles, each of which contains to links to further reading.

Mother Jones: “Invisible Women: The Real History of Domestic Workers in America”

The Atlantic: “The Decline of Domestic Help”

Between the Lines Book Club: Maid, Discussion Questions

between the lines book club logoThis month our book club is reading Maid, by Stephanie Land. We will meet to discuss it in person at Arden Dimick Library on March 28, 2020, at 10:30AM. This memoir deals with Land’s struggle as a single mother to survive poverty and give her child a better life.

We may have additional questions at our March 28 meeting, but this set of questions from should give you some things to think about while reading the book.

1. What do you think of Stephanie Land?

2. What was Land’s family background? How, in particular, would you describe her parents and the affect they may have had (or not have had) on the direction of her life?

3. What does this memoir reveal to you about life on the edge—or smack in the middle—of poverty? Consider the humiliations, the fears and anxieties, even hoplessness, and the exhaustion, both physical and mental, of Land’s situation. How common do you think her experiences are? To what extent do you believe her poverty was due to her own poor choices?

4. Talk about the rules of the bureaucracy that poor people face when attempting to find assistance. Should those rules be made intentionally difficult in order to discourage their abuse? Or do the rules appear designed purposely to keep poor people mired in poverty?

5. What do you think of Jamie and his threats to apply for custody of Mia?

6. Talk about the ways in which Maid highlights the discrepancies between rich and poor?

7. What is your take-away from reading Land’s memoir? Is it an eye-opener, or does it confirm your ideas of life under the poverty?

Here is another set of questions from

1. What were your opinions about poverty and the poor before you read MAID? What were the sources of the information that influenced these opinions?

2. What is class prejudice? What ideas make up the “wall of stigmas” that Land is faced with? What explains the psychology of antagonism toward the poor?

3. Why had each of Land’s parents “moved on”? What explains the emotional abandonment of their daughter and granddaughter? How did this lack of support affect Land?

4. In what ways does cleaning people’s houses seem like “a last resort” to Land? What are the effects of feeling “invisible” at a job?

5. What are the particular challenges for Mia? What’s most important for children affected by poverty?

6. What state and federal programs are helpful to Hand and Mia? What are the challenges of accepting such assistance?

7. What explains Travis’ “lack of desire to wander, or wonder, or learn”? What else might prevent people from wanting to understand themselves and the world more?

8. When plagued by deep grief or other emotional pain, Land gave it her attention because “the pain didn’t like to be ignored. It needed to be loved.” What does this mean? What are other healthy responses to grief or loss?

9. Moving into the small studio apartment, Land struggles to get rid of things “equally useless and priceless.” What is the power or importance of material things? In what ways is a family’s history carried in things or not?

10. After beting overwhelmed while cleaning The Clown House, Land calls Pam, who, after listening, reminds her to “trust your strength.” What are Land’s particular strengths? How does she stay hopeful and motivated?

11. Consider the various different houses Land cleans: The Porn House, Henry’s House, The Chef’s House, The Sad House, etc. What does each reveal about those who live there? In what ways is each house challenging for Land?

12. After the frightening car accident involving Mia, Land argues to her father that she needed “to be able to tell people.” Why is this? What does Land need from others?

13. What about Missoula, Montana calls to Land? In what ways is it different from the Pacific Northwest where Land has grown up? What determines how different geographical places feel?

14. Analogous to how she cleans, Land approaches the trying challenges of poverty with “shortsightedness.” What is this? What is a healthy balance between daily focus and future planning or even dreaming?

15. In what particular ways is her client Henry valuable for Land?

16. What different kinds of writing does Land do? How is writing important to her? Of what additional value is posting her writing to a blog?

17. Over time, what does Land learn about life from cleaning and having intimate knowledge of people’s houses?

18. Land is constantly working to make “a home” for Mia and herself. What defines a place as a home?

19. Considering the epigraph from Maya Angelou, what is involved in “making a life”? What role should “making a living” play in that?

March Events

The Sun, Rider Waite Smith Tarot Card
Here’s what I’m up to in March. Note a minimum of blogging except for my book club posts on Fridays – I’m too busy doing Tarot to write about it! For a private consultation email Hope to see you in March!

March 14: Romance Book Club

Time: 1PM

Place: Arden Dimick Library

Book: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, by Olivia Waite


March 17: Tarot Readings and Workshop

Time: 10:30AM

Place: Southgate Library


March 19: Tarot Readings and Workshop

Time: 4PM -5PM

Place: Martin Luther King, Jr. Library


March 24: Tarot For Teens and Adults

Time: 4PM – 6PM

Place: Rio Linda Library


March 26: Tarot Workshop and Readings for Adults

Time: 6:30 – 8PM

Place: Arden Dimick Library


March 28: Between the Lines Book Club

Time: 10:30-12

Place: Arden Dimick Library

Book: Maid, by Stephanie Land



Where I Am and What I’ll be doing

Cover of Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics

Hey y’all! I wasn’t kidding when I said things were busy – I’ve been all over the place doing tarot workshops for teens. This coming Saturday at 10:30AM I’m doing an all-ages tarot workshop – adults welcome! Come get an introduction to the cards at Isleston Library in the beautiful Sacramento Delta.

Coming up on March 14, I’m leading Sacramento Public Library’s Romance Book Club at Arden Dimick Library at 1pm. Our book is The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite. Snacks provided!

On the fourth Saturday of every month we have Between the Lines Book Club, also at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM. Our March date is March 28. We are reading Maid by Stephanie Land.



Between the Lines Book Club: The Dozier School for Boys

between the lines book club logoThis month our book club pick is Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. We will discuss the book in person at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM on Saturday, Feb 22, 2020.

Nickel Boys is a composite of true stories about a very real place: Florida’s Dozier School for Boys. Here are some links to info about Dozier.

This report on NPR’s All Things Considered includes an interview with a boy who was hitchhiking and was sent to Dozier when the the driver who had picked him up turned out to be driving a stolen car.

CBS has a collection of historic photographs.

Smithsonian Magazine has an article with history and more links.

The following video contains a story about and tour of the facility and grounds:


Meanwhile, ust a short drive from Sacramento is Preston Castle, also known as Preston School of Industry, which has it’s own past history of abuse and trauma, as detailed in

A Poem For Your Complicated Valentine’s Day

shallow focus photo of pink ceramic roses

I do not love you except because I love you

by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

Between the Lines Book Club: Nickel Boys Discussion Questions

between the lines book club logoThis month our book club pick is Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. We will discuss the book in person at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM on Saturday, Feb 22, 2020.

Here are some questions to consider while you read the book:

  1. How does Elwood keep his sense of humanity? How does Turner? Talk about the role the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr play in the book.
  2. How do the boys and other people around them help them be resilient where others are not?
  3. One school of literary thought believes that the injustices and tragedies done to others must be brought to light and that this promotes social justice. Other feel that it promotes a kind of “misery porn” in which certain types of characters are permanently locked in miserable stories. What did you think about the painful content of this book?
  4. Why does Turner take Elwood with him?
  5. Why does the author keep the identity of the person living out an adult life in New York City a secret for so much of the book?
  6. MLK Jr. said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Does the author think that this is true? Do you? Talk about the impact of the last paragraph, as well as the closing of the school.

The following questions are from the publisher:

1. In the prologue, the narrator observes that after the truth about Nickel Academy comes out, “even the most innocent scene – a mess hall or the football field – came out sinister, no photographic trickery necessary.” Can you think of a time in your life when discovering the history of a place (a particular building, a statue, a historical landmark, etc.) dramatically changed your perception of it?
2. Elwood says that both he and Yolanda King “woke to the world,” or discovered racism, at six years old. How old were you when you became aware of racism and inequality? How do you think this experience is different for different people?
3. While in the infirmary, Elwood reads a pamphlet about Nickel that details the contributions the school has made to the community, including bricks from the brick-making machine “propping up buildings all over Jackson County.” What do you think of the ways that the wider community seemed to benefit from labor performed by Nickel students? Do you see any historical or modern-day parallels to this symbiotic relationship?
4. One student, Jaimie, is half-Mexican and constantly shuffled between the “white” and “colored” sections of Nickel Academy. Why do you think the author included a character with Jaimie’s ethnic identity in this story?
5. One of Elwood’s takeaways from Dr. King’s speeches is the importance of maintaining one’s dignity in the face of oppression. Is Elwood’s decision to escape (and risk the consequences of capture) rooted in the realization that he can no longer maintain his dignity in a place like Nickel?
6. At one point, the narrator writes that “laughter knocked out a few bricks from the wall of segregation, so tall and so wide.” Does humor truly lighten the burden for the boys? Or is it merely one of the very few things that can’t be taken away from them?
7. Who do you think was the true “villain” of the story? The teachers? The school itself? Something or someone else?

Epic Movie Trailer

white mug

This month is bonkers y’all o expect light content on Mondays. Some of you may already have seen this epic movie trailer composed of moments from movies from the last decade. I love these because they do such a beautiful job of revealing the magic of movies – even bad ones. Rock on!