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review 2017-12-31 15:40
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #2 - Guy Fawkes Day
Blind Ambition: The White House Years - John W. Dean

A book about political treason.


I've had the paperback edition of John Dean's book for a bazillion years, started it several times, never got very far.  Then it showed up as Kindle bargain -- either free or 99 cents or something, so I grabbed it with the intention of reading bits and pieces when I had the chance.  I take the Kindle with me when I run errands because I never know when I'll get stuck in a line.


I had such a line at the post office a week or so before Christmas.  I always use the self-service kiosk when I can, and that particular day there were three people ahead of me, none of whom had ever used the kiosk.  By the time they had finished and it was my turn, I was completely engrossed in Blind Ambition.


The events were fairly familiar.  The rise and fall of Richard Nixon occurred during my adult lifetime, so there were no real surprises here.  But I have to say I found Dean's writing much more engaging than Woodward and Bernstein in All the President's Men, which I'm reading more or less concurrently.  As one of the actual participants in the Watergate cover-up, Dean doesn't spare himself, and certainly isn't particular kind to most of the others in the Nixon White House.


For inside background information on Watergate, Dean's account is probably one of the best and earliest.  Very much recommended.

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text 2017-12-31 15:18
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #8 - Las Posadas
Silver Saddles - Covelle Newcomb

A book set in Mexico.


I'm guessing I bought Silver Saddles when I was in fifth grade, maybe fourth, so in the late 1950s.  It's a horse story, you know, so that was right there enough to attract me.  But this book had something extra that made it stick in my mind from then right through another almost 60 years:  It's set in Mexico and there's a whole lot of Spanish in it.


I lost my original copy years and years ago but it was one of those things that I just had to replace.  A few years ago I found a copy on Amazon and added it to the collection, but I didn't read it right away.  Las Posadas seemed a good reason to spend an afternoon getting reacquainted with an old friend.


Flint Ryder's dad has been given a palomino quarter horse stallion, Cimarron, and the horse needs to be brought from Torreon, Mexico to the Ryder ranch 300 miles away.  Fifteen-year-old Flint beats out his brother Bill for the job of picking up the horse, then riding him overland back to the ranch.  It's a week-long adventure filled with danger and excitement, including murderous bandits and a rattlesnake and a rodeo.


Whether such a story was plausible when it was written in 1943, I don't know.  It seems pretty far-fetched today that a teenager not yet old enough to drive would be sent out with a machete and a rifle to deliver a highly valuable horse, but it was a fun read when I wasn't old enough to think about plausibility.  Now it's kind of eye-rolling.


So was the racism.  It's a patronizing, colonial, kind racism, but racism all the same.  There's little doubt that blond, blue-eyed Flint will outsmart and outfight and outride any Mexican because, well, because.  I didn't see it that way as a kid, but well, we live and learn.  I doubt Silver Saddles would make it onto any current recommended reading list without plenty of disclaimers!





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text 2017-12-31 14:23
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #9 - Winter Solstice
Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype - Clarissa Pinkola Estés

I am completely lost.  This may have something to do with waking up at 2:15 a.m. after barely three hours' sleep.  I tried for almost four additional hours to go back to sleep, but it didn't work, so here I am trying to sort through my notes to bring my Festive Season activities up to date.


For Square #9, a task for the Winter Solstice is to ask a question, then open a book to page 40, line 9. 


My question was broad and vague, but it is also the reason I have lost so much sleep lately:  How am I going to get through the next year, financially as well as mentally?


I pondered and pondered which book to pick and finally, after taking the dogs outside, settled on Women Who Run with the Wolves.  I bought the book when it was first published in 1992 -- it even says "First Edition" whoo hoo! -- and have read most of it in segments, but have never sat down and read the whole thing through first page to last.


Page 40, line 9, is the middle of a thought:


". . .severs the woman from her intuitive nature.  When its cutting work is done . . . "


The passage refers to patriarchal control of women, in particular the "predatory potentate" archetype who does the cutting that severs the woman from her intuitive nature.  Gee, is that relevant to this particular Solstice, or what?


I've felt for most of the past 20 years or so that I've been cut off from my "intuitive nature," and the past dozen years or so that I've been in little more than survival mode.  Last year, 2016, was the first time I felt more at ease emotionally than I have in a long time, and I know very well that the reason for that was my writing.  After writing and publishing The Looking-Glass Portrait, I tried to get into another writing project right away, but too many external factors kept intruding.  Those external factors dominated my 2017 attempts to write, as well as virtually everything else.


Whatever I do to address these issues in 2018, I'm going to try my best not to be cut off from the person I really am.  I can't be someone else, and especially not for someone else.  I have to be me, for me.






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text 2017-12-16 20:55
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #9 - Yuletide

The latter part -- at least one-third -- of The Dragonbone Chair takes place in a bitter winter setting, on a snow-swept mountain of ice, complete with



(spoiler show)

So I'm counting it.

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text 2017-11-26 19:31
Reading progress update: I've read 68 out of 686 pages.
The War of the Flowers - Tad Williams

Way down in the lower right hand corner there is a poppy.


Square #3 - Veterans' Day now has a book.


I have not had time to sit down and reeeeeeeeeeeeead.  The long week-end is almost over.  I am going to take this book outside and relax with it for as long as I can.


Current temperature is 85.

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