July 11th, 2007

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Good Morning!

Again, I am inside the womb of the house and a womb of fog.  I haven't seen the moon or sun for days.

I finished the book The Book Thief by Markus Zusak last night, and I knew I was affected, but I don't think I realized how much until Jane and I spoke this morning.  When I went to write my own words, I could not find them.  He speaks of how Hitler used words to manipulate, and, yet, he himself is writing beautifully and communicating to us through words.  When I went to write this morning, I could not help but think of how even Bush who mangles and tortures words has managed to use them for death and destruction.

Jane said today that "It's difficult to fight a lack of integrity without losing one's own," and so we back off, not wanting to get drawn into a nasty battle.

With The Book Thief, I was at first put off by the use of a narrator, narrating, and by the end I saw the power it gave this book.  I was also expecting when the young girl was sent to a foster home, that she would be sexually abused.  How sad is that, but isn't that the theme of so many books written in America today?  Instead this is a story of unbelievable care and love.   The book came out in Australia as an adult book.  It was released here in the Young Adult category.  What does that say about us?   We are drawn on in this book on the emotion of one possible kiss.  A girl reaches the age of 13 in Nazi Germany and is still sexually innocent, though she has dealt with death and deep love over and over again.  Our books say something about us.  What we are reading and watching on TV and what does that lead us to expect as to people?   We live in fear. 

When I was walking in my neighborhood the other day, a young boy actually felt safe enough to speak to me.  He was four or five, and pointed out three or four new bushes in their yard.  Then, his mother came rushing out.  I was thrilled that he felt safe enough to talk to me.  She had concern.  Something is greatly lost in this world of fear in which we are encased.  Something huge.

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Jane's Poem for Today!

Today plus today plus today has become my life.  
My eyes have looked out through many faces.
Doubt has rusted through my skin.
Today the wick grows short and takes slowly to the match.
Its flame inscribes an epigram on air.

                            - Jane Flint

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My Morning Poem -

The Book Thief


The book The Book Thief

stole my words.


Markus Zusak writes of Nazi Germany.

Words squeeze life with death.


I am beaten, battered, and nearly starved

as doors open and close

on love and hate.


Hitler climbed to power on his words,

then, burned books.

Bush twists words, mobilizes them to kill.


My father volunteered in WWII,

became a pilot, and dropped bombs from a B-17.

Shot down, and captured by the Germans,

he rode a train to a northern camp.


There, he fed on books.


Innocent are the letters in words,

straight lines and curves,

given common meaning in the sacred

caves of our heads. 




Drop down the line of the L,

and turn right or left depending

on whether you are living as an L,

or seeing it from outside.


Both can give the ride that leaps

to O, a letter oval and whole,


that bounces down with the V

to touch the ground and then rising


swings round to E.  


Use Love to sound.   Peal!



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Retrieve -

You can warm up your memory by moving your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds.   This horizonal movement is thought to increase interaction between the two hemispheres of the brain which leads to retrieving certain kinds of memories.  It is worth a try, though it might appear a bit odd, like a lion running back and forth on the plain.
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The Book Thief!

Markus Zusak has this to say about his book, The Book Thief.

The Book Thief was supposed to be a small book - only a hundred pages or so. When I was growing up, I heard stories at home about Munich and Vienna in war-time, when my parents were children. Two stories my mother told me affected me a lot. The first was about Munich being bombed, and how the sky was on fire, how everything was red. The second was about something else she saw...

One day, there was a terrible noise coming from the main street of town, and when she ran to see it, she saw that Jewish people were being marched to Dachau, the concentration camp. At the back of the line, there was an old man, totally emaciated, who couldn't keep up. When a teenage boy saw this, he ran inside and brought the man a piece of bread. The man fell to his knees and kissed the boy's ankles and thanked him...Soon, a soldier noticed and walked over. He tore the bread from the man's hands and whipped him for taking it. Then he chased the boy and whipped him for giving him the bread in the first place. In one moment, there was great kindness and great cruelty, and I saw it as the perfect story of how humans are.

When I remembered those stories, I wanted to build them into a small book, like I said. The result was The Book Thief, and it came to mean much more to me than I could have imagined. No matter what anyone ever says about that book, whether good or bad, I know it was the best I could do, and I don't think a writer can ask for more of himself than that.

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Lady Bird Johnson!

Lady Bird Johnson died today at the age of 94.   She truly was a lady.  I will always remember how she helped clean up the roads.  Before her campaign of awareness, people tossed their garbage out the car windows.  Well, not me, but clearly, many saw no problem with it.  She gently turned things around.   May some of her gentleness stay with her passing.
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Anne Fadiman -

I heard the end of an interview today with Anne Fadiman interviewed by Michael Krasny.  It reminded me to peruse her book of essays, At Large and At Small.   One essay is on ice cream.  In 1921, the commissioner of Ellis Island decreed that all newly arrived immigrants be served ice cream as part of their first American meal.  Now, there's a rule to enjoy, savor, and taste.