Weekend Coffee Share

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

It’s been a mixed week. On the plus side, Friday I celebrated my birthday with a dinner with my parents and two cousins, I haven’t seen in ages. We ate outside at a local spot which has a lovely patio area. The downside, which is minor, is that it was quite chilly. We wore our fall coats the whole time. I must admit fall has come and it’s time to switch out my seasonal wardrobe.

While Friday was great, Saturday started with a fender bender. Ugh. I was parking in front of a food pantry where my partner and I were going to work. I accidentally started to park in a loading zone and the man who owned the store by the zone, startled me as he dramatically waved and pointed to the sign. Of course, I started to move out, but I wasn’t careful enough so I soon heard a dreadful CRRRUNCH. I’d hit the taillights of the car in front of me. Long story short, I’ve exchanged information with the other driver and will go through the process of making things right. There’s something so awful in that sound of a car accident, even a minor one. Then there’s the dreadful thought of how much will it cost and how much hassle this will be to fix. My car had a pretty long scratch, but when I got home, I wiped off the door and saw that the scratch isn’t so bad. Have you had any experiences like this?

This week at work we got more people to do the Census than any other, but 200%. Where have these people been? They were pleasant and we didn’t have any insults shouted at us. We have had some of our future assignments changed as both in Albany Park and the Morse CTA station, there were shootings. We work during the day and these incidents happened after 6pm, but it’s good we’ve been reassigned. I do wonder when Chicago’s violence will decline. Nothing seems to be working.

On Thursday, my partner and I had an interesting talk with the two police officers covering the Rogers Park CTA stations. They explained how there’s a lot to their job that TV commentators and social media users just don’t understand. For example, tasers only work as designed if they can touch the skin. If someone is wearing thick or baggy clothing, they’re ineffective. Someone can pull out the prongs pretty easily and once those wires are disconnected, the device is useless. I’d love to see a news program that offers information on how tasers work and what they can and can’t do. I’d like to see the actual statistics on how often someone draws a weapon on the police and the officers make the arrest without drawing a weapon.

I’m reading That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. It’s the third book of his space trilogy. It’s quite different from the first two books, but relates to what’s going on in society right now in terms of violence and division. The main character Mark is a university professor and I’m enjoying the view into academia.

I finished the Hillsdale College Children’s Classic Literature course so I got Peter Rabbit and reread that and got Beatrix Potter’s Two Bad Mice. Both were witty and soothing timeless stories.

My job will end on September. I have lined up short term work as a judge for early voting which will start here on October 19th and culminate November 3rd. After that I have to get something else. First and foremost I have to figure out what I want to do.

Hate that Cat

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Sharon Creech’s Hate that Cat is a super quick read, perfect if you have a book report due tomorrow and hadn’t started a book. Though Creech’s Walk Two Moons is among my favorite novels for children, Hate that Cat didn’t grab me.

Evidently, Hate that Cat is the second book in a series. The hero writes letters to his favorite teacher and shares all his thoughts about poetry, cats, dogs, and writing with the teacher. The book introduces young readers to poets like William Carlos Williams and Edgar Allen Poe. The most interesting facet of the book was that the narrator’s mother is deaf and he can sign ASL.

For a mature reader, there isn’t much in the theme that isn’t well worn ground. The book doesn’t delight readers of all ages, which is a hallmark of the best of children’s literature. The narrator seemed like a cookie cutter Creech hero, but one who shares little of his personality or background.

Getting the Best Care

getting best careMargaret Fitzpatrick’s book Getting the Best Care: Rescue your loved one from the healthcare conveyor belt is a must read for every adult. Fitzpatrick is a nurse who’s written a great guide for everyone who need to get clarity on options for patients who’re at the end of life. The book contains lots of facts and options with examples of actual stories of people at the end of their lives.

As we age, particularly after age 65 every time we go to the hospital we’re likely to come out diminished. Hospital visits are particularly confusing and troubling as the average person doesn’t know what questions to ask or how to realistically evaluate the outcomes of various treatments. Fitzpatrick shows us how to talk about healthcare with older relatives and with healthcare workers. There are two different worlds, the hospital world and the world we live in, and there needs to be an adjustment in our view of what to ask and how to communicate so that older relatives and eventually ourselves have conversations that honor our wishes and don’t result in a lot of tests and treatments that do more harm than good.

Much of the book covers Fitzpatrick’s mother’s desire to never go into the hsopital. The mother of 9, who died after her  99th birthday, Fitzpatrick’s mother Alma. Alma never wanted to be hospitalized as she got older. As Fitzpatrick shows, that’s not a bad outlook as most of the elderly diminish in mental acuity and physical health with each hospitalization. While Alma did go to the hospital for a broken hip, because her daughter and other children understood Alma’s beliefs on autonomy and quality of life they were able to minimize the time spent in the hospital and able to see that she died as she wished, at home, in peace surrounded by loved ones after a rich life. In addition, Fitzpatrick uses stories of her patients, her brother and ex husband to provide context to how hospitalization effects older patients and how family or advocates can get better communicate to get the right kind of care and to manage expectations.

In a hospital patients are likely to be cared for by dozens of professionals and are often given several tests even when they have a diagnosis for a condition that has no cure anyway. Fitzpatrick’s book gave me the right way to ask the right questions. She also showed me that I should ask what the likely outcome can be, if there’s no cure or the treatment will cause more harm than good.

Chapters cover individual healthcare goals, codes in hospitals, setting realistic healthcare goals, testing, asking the right questions, advocating for loved ones with dementia, palliative care and hospice, nursing homes, and more. The book does not advocate against all hospitalization or to just cut grandma off from medical help, it just shows readers what they can do to better insure that loved one’s care is what they really want.

 

Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish

hereville fish

Another Mirka story by Barry Deutsche, Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish takes us back into the world of an Orthodox Jewish teen named Mirka. Smart and feisty, Mirka clashes with her stepmom. When she’s made to babysit her young half-sister, Mirka defies the rule that she shouldn’t go into the forest. She longs to experience the adventures her stepmother had as a girl. This adventure-seeker soon encounters trouble through a magic, or rather cursed talking fish, who soon kidnaps the little girl, making Mirka the “worst babysitter ever.”

The story is fun and wise. I enjoyed Mirka’s spirt and learning of the stepmom’s history. Surprising Furma, the stepmom grew up with a very modern mother, who’s something of a 1960’s hippy type.

The dialog is fresh and I like how authentic the story felt, in spite of a cursed fish that kept growing. I loved the glimpse into a different culture and all the Yiddish sprinkled into the dialog. (Deutsche provides definitions at the bottom of the page.) The stepmom isn’t perfect, but I liked how she spars with Mirka and makes the teen increase her understanding. Yes, the older generation has wisdom even feisty teens can’t refute. It would be easy to just show Mirka as always right and the rules of her community outdated. Instead, Deutsch points out how there’s wisdom in them.

Dangerous Jane

Dangerous-Jane-263x300With muted watercolor illustrations,Suzanne Slade’s  Dangerous Jane offers a biography of Jane Addams that teaches children of Addams childhood and her main accomplishments including her European travels, her bringing the idea of a settlement house to Chicago where she opened Hull House, to her speaking up for peace and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Alice Ratterree’s illustrations convey a gentle past era, which doesn’t quite jive with the dire poverty and horrors of WWI, but it’s a children’s book so I understand the choice..

This short biography will acquaint children with a great woman.

Good for ages 4 to 7

Book Club: 1984

This month’s Prager U Book Club takes on George Orwell’s 1984. It’s fascinating whether you’ve read the book or not. It made me want to reread 1984, a book I’ve read probably 10 times.

I think the book is essential reading in spite of the fact that the society it’s set in is so bleak. It does make a case for courage and standing up for what’s right before society slips into a nihilistic hell.

It would be interesting to write a prequel.

Have you read 1984? What do you think?

El Deafo

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Cece Bell’s graphic novel El Deafo is a charming, insightful memoir that I didn’t want to end. El Deafo chronicles Bell’s early life from healthy infant, through her getting meningitis and navigating school and friendship after she became deaf. I learned a lot about the options in terms of hearing devices and how they were worn and how they made Bell feel awkward. I enjoyed all her memories of TV shows like x and y, slumber parties, and riding the school bus.

Friendship is a major theme in El Deafo and I could feel for Bell who had a hard time making friends. When she does find a friend, Laura, she’s put off by how bossy she is. Yet Laura doesn’t make a big deal out of Cece being deaf. Still the bossiness is hard to take. Later Cece meets Ginny, who loves all the same TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons,

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The title El Deafo comes from a superhero name Cece gives herself once she gets a new hearing device that lets her hear her teacher wherever she is in the building — in class, in the teachers’ lounge, in the restroom and this super power changes Cece’s status forever.

The story captures what it’s like to strive to find a friend in a challenging social landscape and enlightens readers on what it was like to experience hearing loss all of a sudden and how complicated it is to learn to cope with it. I highly recommend El Deafo as a book for all ages.