March is National Women’s History Month and the theme for 2016 is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”
What perfect timing for me! I have just finished reading two wonderful books about the first two women on the Supreme Court who have worked tirelessly to make this a “more perfect union.”
In “Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World,” Linda Hirshman alternates between these two amazing women’s stories. Sandra Day O’Connor, as the first woman of the Supreme court, said that it was great to be the first, but she didn’t want to be the last. She was a product of the West, growing up on a ranch. She was a Christian and a Goldwater Republican, whereas Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a liberal, Jewish ACLU lawyer. But, with all their differences, their experiences in the world trying to make it as women were very much the same. The pair truly transformed the courts – and America in the process – to make it a more hospitable place for women. Continue reading “HerStory – In Government and Public Service”
Last year, Alzheimer’s was much discussed in popular media, as Julianne Moore won all of the awards for her portrayal of a 50-year-old linguistics professor with the early onset form of the disease, in the movie “Still Alice.” The movie was based on Lisa Genova’s novel of the same title. Genova, a neuroscientist as well as an author, knew what she was about in portraying the effects of a condition that strips away your memory.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can seem overwhelming for the patient and family members. But support and information are available. Below are some helpful resources for those coping with dementia, as well as their caregivers. Continue reading “What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s”
Valentine’s Day is not the sole domain of those enveloped in romantic love, though that does seem to be the emphasis. (Notice the numerous advertisements that run for heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, bouquets of roses and dinner reservations for two in the weeks approaching February 14.) But this red-letter day, designated to celebrate love, is fair game for everyone. After all, love takes many forms and evolves in stages across all kinds of relationships – between friends, parents and children, siblings and so on.
Seeking to expand beyond this romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day (but not wanting to exclude it), I decided to treat the library’s online catalog as an oracle and ask her (or him, or them???) to provide some alternative material to use in recognizing this day of love and also to address the varying places the human heart might find itself on the love continuum. So I typed in “heart, states, matters, heal, love and poetry” in the keyword search bar and waited patiently for a response. The answer divined from our cyber sage was a wonderfully varied list of titles that deal with the spiritual, physical and emotional realms of the heart. Continue reading “Keyword Search: Heart, States, Love, Matters, Poetry, Heal”
I’m not a big consumer of alcohol. It’s not that I don’t like beer and wine and other spirits; they just don’t agree with my fair-skinned, allergy-ridden constitution. So instead, I daydream about delicious drinks paired with tasty party foods or holiday meals, and then occasionally make an exception to my habit of avoiding alcohol. With the winter holidays on the verge, I’m about to make one of those exceptions. Eggnog! I love it – all that luscious heavy cream, frothed with eggs, darkened with rum and/or bourbon (or brandy, depending on the recipe) and tinged with freshly grated nutmeg. Mmmmmm. Really, what’s not to love?!
My mother had a passion for entertaining at Christmas time, and eggnog was on her list of things to make. She would haul her giant crystal punch bowl out from the corner cupboard and fill it with her version of this ambrosial concoction (borrowed from the American Heritage Cookbook – see recipe below), ladling it into matching crystal mugs to serve to the eager crowd. Continue reading “High-spirited Winter Holiday Cheer”
In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 Human Rights Day in order to highlight the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as “the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” Now, I think that is a really great idea. Human rights – everyone should have them and they should be protected.
But what exactly is meant by “human rights”? In trying to answer that question I have learned that there are two types of rights: rights that are essential for a dignified and decent human existence, and rights which are essential for adequate development of human personality. Rights under the first category include the right to fulfillment of basic human needs like food, shelter, clothing, health and sanitation, and earning one’s livelihood. The second category of human rights includes the right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as cultural, religious and educational rights. Whew! I’m glad we’ve gotten that straight! I’m sure the book “The International Human Rights Movement: A History” could help explain the concept a lot more. Continue reading “Human Rights Day 2015”
My brother Michael and I were born about 16 months apart and have always been very close. When we started our adventures away from home, in the early 1990s, we began a series of correspondence by letter that has continued to this day. Back in the early days, we wrote each other once or even twice a week. We continue to correspond by pen and paper, although less frequently than in our youth, as we still live half a continent apart. Considered a “lost art” by many, both of us uphold the art of letter writing as communication, solace and even therapy. The library has many books about letter writing, and what better time to celebrate than December 7 – National Letter Writing Day! Continue reading “The Art of Letter Writing”
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope some day you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.” – John Lennon
It’s hard to imagine, but December 8 marks the 35th anniversary of the passing of John Lennon. As a member of the Beatles, his music sent a startling ripple through the music world. Lennon and his bandmates didn’t create rock and roll, but their role in popularizing it and helping to bring about the musical revolution of the 1960s can’t be denied. The music Lennon wrote during his Beatles years can certainly be credited with getting people dancing. As a solo musician, his music, which had evolved to reflect his interest in social activism, got people thinking. Continue reading “Remembering John Lennon”
World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
This annual event also raises awareness about HIV/AIDS and promotes prevention and the search for a cure. Much misinformation still exists about who has the disease and how it is spread. Continue reading “Three Books (and One Film) to Mark World AIDS Day”
Crisp weather and turning the calendar’s page to November means it’s pie season. This time of year my extended family begins discussions about who will bring what dish to our Thanksgiving meal, but the question of who should bake the pies is never up for debate. My mother will bake one pumpkin and one pecan pie, and the crust will be made with lard – no butter or (shudder) shortening. The pastry will be flaky and perfect, and I, unable to decide between the two flavors, will end up having a slice of each. And then I’ll ask for another piece of pumpkin to take home and have the next morning for breakfast. Continue reading “Pie Season”
You’ve probably realized from your own experience that being kind brings you positive effect. We all know that warm, fuzzy feeling (known as “helper’s high” or “giver’s glow”) evoked from selfless acts of kindness and generosity extended to others. Well, it turns out that the benefits of being kind go way beyond that “feel good” feeling. Scientific research indicates significant physical and mental health benefits come from offering kindness to others. And interestingly, the bundle of benefits comes not only to those offering the kindness, but also to those receiving it and even to third party witnesses of kind acts. Continue reading “Kindness Makes the World Go Around and Improves Your Health”