Migration isn’t just for birds

OK, the morning temperatures are in single digits with wind chill below zero. Warm breezes and snow-free weather reports are encouraging many of my peers to give up their long underwear for long walks on the beach. But that’s not the migration I’m talking about.

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Let’s just say I’m a cloud hopper.  When you move a website from one service to another the technical term is migration.  Let me tell you, it is just about as messy as many trips to Ellis Island. If there is a misspelling of a name or a problem verifying a destination, all forward progress stops. And rarely does the interaction involve dealing with people.

This blog is the frontispiece of my new website. As with any work in progress, there are missteps and challenges. I’m still working to get the look and features just right. And in the cloud hopping department, I’ve moved from one host to another that should make the creative process a bit easier.

If it can be so tedious, why bother? I think I have something to say. And I know having the intellectual challenge of making this technology work for me keeps me sharp. Some very wise octogenarians keep showing me how much there is to learn at every age.  So I keep learning and exploring, between the pages of a book, walking a neighborhood or finding portals to brilliance on the internet.

Everyday I’m learning more. Please keep watching this space. After all, I’m Finding My Wings. And with a little luck and some help from my friends, I’ll fly!

Reading, a portable vacation

Forget the 10835269_904426496256072_731989134103596863_ogroundhog! You don’t need a rodent to tell you that winter’s got a firm grip on the U.S. Like everyone else, I’d be thrilled to have warm winds and long sunlit days but it’s not to be. The upside of howling winds and darkness is the pull of a comfy chair and lots of good books. How apt that February is Love of Reading Month. Continue reading Reading, a portable vacation

Fighting hibernation

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As much as I love reading, an activity perfectly suited for the shorter, colder, darker days of winter, there is nothing like an excursion to keep both mind and body sharp. This winter I’ve found myself a bit stymied in my quest to keep my inner excursionista happy. First off, the weather has not cooperated.  Not that it’s been so terrible but it seems too many times I’ve put something on the schedule and the specter of icy roads/delays quashes the plan. Sometimes it’s a mundane appointment that is then rescheduled on a day that would have been perfect for a good downtown wander. If I were still using a paper calendar my January would be one big eraser-created hole.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 5.58.55 PMBeyond the weather, a recent change to reading the Washington Post online (except on Sunday) has altered the number and range of local events/exhibits/opportunities that cross my path. Given the explosion of social media marketing and web guides you’d think it would be easy to hone in great things to see and do.  The truth is the algorithms may show you the top three exhibits in town for the weekend but can’t show you the range of museum or gallery shows in the same way the listings in an old fashioned newspaper can. When the seasonal calendar of all theater/art exhibits/concerts for the upcoming months appears it is so much easier to grab a pen, circle those of interest and tear out the pages. Whether you are a local or just visiting, I have a favorite place online to look for something to do – a walking tour, exhibit or lesser known performance – and it’s Cultural Tourism DC. There is an annotated calendar that makes it much easier to pick, choose and schedule. Now that I’ve shared a trick to finding fun, who’s game for a trip to see “Decoding the Renaissance” at the Folger Shakespeare Library? Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.20.42 PM

Coming to a (small) screen near you! Part 1- The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

Huh? “What is The Book of Negroes?” you say. “I’m sure I’d have remembered a book with that title!” Therein lies the story. Lawrence Hill, a Canadian author, published The Book of Negroes in 2007. This historical novel quickly garnered critical acclaim and popular recognition, winning awards and being selected by the CBC-radio for its “Read Canada” event. The book tells the story of Aminata, a young girl stolen from Africa in the 1700’s and enslaved in South Carolina. She escapes and heads to Manhattan and aids the British during the American Revolution, serving as the scribe for the Book of Negroes, the registry of those freed slaves the British promise to award land for their assistance in fighting the colonists during the Revolution. Every day of her life she worked to better herself, a truly compelling character.

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The Book of Negroes is an actual historical document and becomes a pivotal part of the story. It is the connotation of the title that is so off-putting. We just don’t say that. So when the book was released in the US in 2008 the title was changed to Someone Knows My Name. The book has been brought to television with CBC (Canada) and BET (US) as the primary producers.  It has already premiered in Canada and will be shown on BET February 16 to 18. This is BET’s first  miniseries ever.  http://www.bet.com/shows/the-book-of-negroes.html 

Lawrence Hill has created a wonderful and well-written story in this, his first novel. This success has traversed borders, raising the controversial question, “What’s in a name?” When the book was published in the Netherlands in 2011 there were threats to burn the book over its title. Hill responded that the controversy is part of the message to be learned from the story.

I am excited at the prospect of watching the miniseries. My past experience with CBC productions has been quite positive. There’s still time to enter Aminata’s world on your own terms before you watch the show. My copy has traveled through many hands since I first read it and discussed it with a book group. Someone Knows My Name/The Book of Negroes is a good example of historical fiction that expands your understanding of history through the life story of its characters.

Paris 2015 | Paris 1943

This week my book group was immersed in Paris. We planned it back in June. While it isn’t uncommon to have current events creep into the discussion, it is rare to have the past and present echo so strongly. Our book was The Paris Architect, Charles Belfoure’s first novel about a French architect in occupied Paris in 1943 – 1944 who is persuaded to use his talents to create extraordinary hiding places for Jews. The book is not a conventional Holocaust novel. First, it takes place entirely in Paris, after the round-up and barely references the trains or camps. None of the major characters in the story are Jewish.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 9.19.21 AM  An overriding theme of the book discussion was the importance of empathy and the recognition of shared human interests despite differences. Continue reading Paris 2015 | Paris 1943