Tuesday, August 15, 2023




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

PS I can no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover. I've been taking public transportation more often lately, and that made me aware of how popular "CoHo" is. Her books are in commuters' hands and on shelves at the train station. I haven't seen an author dominate like this since Michelle Obama's Becoming was absolutely everywhere. So I'm curious to give her a try.

I went with Ugly Love because it was available at the library. Tate Collins is an ER nurse. She meets hot pilot Miles Archer. They don't fall in love because they don't really like each other ... but did I mention Miles is hot? So far it feels formulaic but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Especially since the book I just finished is very heavy.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Eisenhower: The White House Years by Jim Newton. I finished this 450+ page book with a greater knowledge of Eisenhower, and a confused opinion of him. There is much to admire: he guided us through WWII, and if that was the end of his story the world should be grateful. But he went on to be POTUS at a time when many American politicians and military men were actually eager to drop another bomb. (Matsu and Quemoy? Really?) So it could be argued that Eisenhower helped save the world twice. 
He was imaginative. We routinely take road trips now, in large part because of Ike championed the interstate highway system. Suburbs cropped up and continue to flourish because it's easy for Americans to drive to work. Just that one innovation makes his lasting impact on American life incalculable. He was great for the economy, too. After he left office, no President until Bill Clinton would preside over a budget where we were in the black.

But domestically? Eisenhower let Sen. Joe McCarthy terrorize witnesses way too long. A President as popular and powerful as Ike could have publicly interceded, but didn't. And oh! Race relations! Yes, he was President when Brown vs. Board of Education went into effect, but he never came out in favor it. In fact, he fought with speechwriters and sparred with the press when they tried to get him to admit he was against "separate but equal." He actually said to Chief Justice Warren of segregationists: "These are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big, overgrown Negroes."* What the fuck?!

That comment disgusted and disillusioned me because, as Supreme Commander, Eisenhower sent more than a million "overgrown Negroes" to fight and die overseas in WWII. The author, who is very apologetic about Ike's attitude toward blacks, chalks it up to the fact that he simply didn't know any while growing up and didn't serve with any in the Army. They may not have served beside you as your equal in the military, General, but they did serve. I believe he had a moral obligation to view them as human beings.
And Eisenhower gave us Nixon. There's ample evidence that Eisenhower didn't really want him as VP in the first place ("The Checkers Speech") and in 1956 was serious about dropping Nixon from the ticket, moving him to a Cabinet position. Nixon didn't make it easy for him (the man who led the invasion of Normandy Beach was surprisingly conflict averse)  and so Nixon remained as Vice President ... to a President who was hospitalized with a heart attack and a stroke and a bowel obstruction, all while he was in office. Why, knowing his health was compromised, did he keep Nixon one heartbeat away from the Presidency? Why, understanding how immature and politically craven Nixon was, did Eisenhower endorse him for the top job in 1960? Again, what the fuck?!
But he saved the world ... twice. So there's that.

I'm very glad I read this book because it's well written (many of those little, personal observations that help me feel like I know the man) and it taught me a lot. Even though I yelled, "What the fuck?!" quite often.
3. What will read next? I don't know.

 *Those closest to Eisenhower don't dispute he said this, just that he was angry at Warren for sharing it. After all, it was "off the record." As they say, Mr. President, the true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is looking .... or what he says "off the record.'


August Happiness Challenge -- Day 15

My 2023 Happiness Icon

Today's Happiness: Rachel.

She's my yoga instructor and she's wonderful. While I'm not the best judge of these things, I suspect I'm consistently the worst in the class. But today I had an "off" morning, even by my low standards.

After class she cornered me as I was putting my bricks and bolster away. She asked me if I was OK, and I told her, frankly, no. Early in the class, during one of the poses, I saw my left arm and leg shaking. I saw them shaking, but didn't feel it. I was completely creeped out by this.

Rachel reassured me it was nothing to worry about, just my muscles reacting to being used in a different way. Drink plenty of water the rest of the day, she advised. 

"And next week I'll just push through, right?"

"You don't have to," she said, reminding me that yoga is "a feeling practice, not a thinking practice." If something doesn't feel right or comfortable, there's no reason for me to do it. This class is about enhancing my flexibility and feeling good in my own body. Period.

Also, she told me I don't look anywhere near my age.

Is it any wonder that I adore Rachel?

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 14

My 2023 Happiness Icon

Today's Happiness: The cutest lobster.

I got a thank you note today from my friend's son. He became a dad around Christmastime and I sent a couple of gifts. I forgot about them, actually, but he was specific in his note. I sent a Chicago Cubs bib and a hooded lobster bath towel.  Since they live in New York, they can't be sure that their baby boy will be a Cubs fan, but I'm told after his bath he's "the cutest lobster."

I don't know what the new baby gift thank you etiquette is. I don't care. Getting the note today out of the blue made me happy.