Wednesday, November 29, 2017


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This is the autobiography of Enzo, a dog at the end of his life looking back on his "dogness." It's a captivating book -- charming, imaginative and filled with provocative insights -- but it's not an easy read. Not if you're an animal lover. As I move through it, I get a little misty imagining the story my cat Reynaldo would tell ... or Joey ... or Tommy ... or Wilma ... or any of the furry souls who have shared my life. I have loved them all, of course, but some have felt more connected to me than others. And at the heart of this book is the connection between Enzo and his human soulmate, Denny.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  A Murder Is Announced, by Agatha Christie. A Miss Marple by the Grand Dame of Mystery.

This book is popular with fans of the genre, but I admit it left me cold. The mystery itself was engaging and the suspense escalated thrillingly. But there were simply too many suspects and I didn't find them to be sharply drawn. I don't recommend it.
I learned that this story has been performed many times both on stage and in made for TV movies -- once in the late 1950s with future Bond Roger Moore as the male ingenue. Maybe it's more successful when the audience can actually see this or that suspect entering from the right and exiting stage left.
3.  What will you read next? Maybe another mystery? Or a biography

Giving Tuesday: I've Got Your Back, Santa

I live next door to a children's home, where kids live awaiting placement in foster care. It also offers childcare for a sliding scale to working parents who can't afford any other option. To help these kids enjoy a little tangible Christmas cheer, the home decorates the tree at Whole Foods. Each ornament has the name/age of a child and what they'd like to receive at their Christmas party. For many of these kids, it will be the only holiday toy they receive. This year, it looks like the trend is toward remote-controlled toys and Baby Alive dolls.

So Carl's Christmas wish really stood out. This 8-year-old boy asked for an Uno card game. The same one we all played in the 1980s. How retro is that? How could I resist making that modest dream come true? In addition to the Uno game, I got him a Jacob's ladder (or click-clack) toy. I figure that any kid who likes to play old-school would enjoy it, plus it will give him something to do around the tree until he can find someone to join him in a game of Uno.

Carl's teacher noted that it would be nice if he got a long-sleeve shirt, too. And so one of those went into the gift bag, too. The one I chose is a pullover with a light bulb graphic and the words, "Awesome & Intelligent." Merry Christmas, Carl.

Then there's the Toys for Tots. I love this organization! When I saw the collection box, I had to pitch in. Literally. I added a cuddly doll, a plush Minion and a lip gloss/body lotion duo (because that would appeal to an older girl.) For a Toys for Tots donation location near you, click here.

Our agency supports an after-school program for inner city kids. There are parts of Chicago which are, frankly, not safe for our children and they need somewhere to go to play. I'm happy to support them, but not with toys. Everyone is eager to buy toys for these kids. And there's a political benefit to helping out with something big and showy. So I went the other way. The organization mentioned that the older girls appreciate pullovers, so I went to Old Navy and got a trio of long-sleeved graphic tees: Be Your Own Hero, Love Is All Around, and a bulldog in a winter cap and scarf. (I chose the last one because as I was shopping, two junior high school aged girls ooh-ing over it.)

It's such a delight to do all this. It made me so happy. I've had the post-birthday blues -- more on that later -- and playing Santa was a terrific antidote. I highly recommend it!