Ruby Ramblings

Machetes to Mosaics – April Reads

Thirteen Thursday

It was a slow reading month, I didn’t quite make it to thirteen, so I added a couple of magazines. Lots of moving around, and very little sitting still.

The Women The WomenSee my full review.

The Zookeeper’s Wife — Fantastic hour long interview with Diane Ackerman about the novel.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch

Short excerpts from Gourevitch at the Pen Festival of authors:

Terry Tempest Williams reads the article she wrote for Orion Magazine regarding her trip to Rwanda to help build a mosaic memorial.

Geek Love Geek Love Nominee for the National Book Award, this is a disturbing tale of a carnival family that attempts to engineer “freaks” with the use of drugs and poisons. All of their children are deformed in some way and we watch them grow up and manipulate each other. Interview with the author at Wired for Books.

sorrow Sorrow Mountain A wonderful book about Ani Pachen’s childhood in rural Tibet, how her life changed after the invasion of the Chinese army, and her 21 years in prison. She tells her story without resentment, but in attempt to make the world understand how her spiritual practice sustained her. She recently died in Dharamsala, but here is a nice piece in her honor.

dream yoga Dream Yoga

Shambala Sun Magazine

For all the reading I’ve done, I’ve never bothered to pick up the Harry Potter series. I’m in Maine visiting my mother right now, and she had this inviting, hardcover, texturally interesting complete set sitting on her floor. I picked up the first one, and am half way through number 4 with no break at all. Highly entertaining, now I see what all the hype was about.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Previous months reading lists: January , February, March

T-13, The South
April 23, 2009, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Travel

Thirteen Thursday

Thirteen cultural things I was not aware of before moving to the south.

1. “Pin” and “pen” are pronounced the same way. Leaving me in search of a safety pin when all someone wanted was a writing utensil.

2. Mac and Cheese is a vegetable.

3. Hush puppies.

4. Collard greens.

5. The American civil war is actually called The War of Northern Aggression.

6. Any argument I was engaged in could be resolved by mentioning I was from Maine. “Ahhh, well, yer just a yank anyway.”

7. My religious affiliations are public information. It’s not if you go to church, it’s where do you go to church. And, in many circles, “I am not a Christian” is not an acceptable answer.

8. On the flip side of that, I also learned that there are some very enjoyable churches in Nashville, as well as the largest Hindu temple in the US, and ten different Buddhist groups. The bible belt is more diverse than it appears.


9. What Bless your heart really means.

10. That playing music just for the love of it is really okay.

11. That a great southern accent can not only be extremely sexy, but can wield sarcasm in a way that puts even the gutsiest New Yorker to shame.

12. That my drinking habits will be heavily governed in any state where I feel driven to drink by the surroundings.

13. That as much as I enjoyed my time living in Nashville and working in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina, I will always be a northern girl at heart.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Teaser Tuesday – Pema Chodron
April 21, 2009, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Books, Buddhism, Travel

The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron

“For instance, even in the rock hardness of the aggression, we’ll generally find fear. Underneath the defensiveness is the brokenhearted, unshielded quality of bodhichitta. Rather than feel this tenderness, however, we tend to close down and protect against the discomfort.” pg. 56

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Portland, ME

Premio Dardos Award
April 21, 2009, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Books, Buddhism, Politics, Travel

Thanks to Book Bird Dog for giving this to me.

“This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.”

Now for the silly part:

“The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link. 2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.”

I think it is rather ridiculous to create an award, and then devalue it by making it a chain letter. I’m accepting it from Book Bird Dog because she stuck to just a few blogs that were really nice to read through, and I will do the same. I don’t even read 15 other blogs regularly, but here are a few that I really do enjoy.

Naked Without Books – Susan is an English instructor in S. Korea and has just participated in a 24-hour read-a-thon.

Lotus Reads – book reviews of a worldly nature.

While Sleepwalking – My dear friend has not blogged in a little while, but the past book reviews and European travels are well worth reading through.

Lessons from the Monk I Married – A great narrative of a woman who married a South Korean monk she befriended while working overseas.

The News Dissector
– He dissects the news. A great blog with lots of information, video clips, and links.

Rebecca Hosking Travel Examiner – a great friend of mine who has been to over forty countries talks about them one country at a time.

Book Giveaway
April 19, 2009, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Books

Jennygirl is hosting a raffle for:

Enter Jennygirl’s giveaway.

After her son’s death, Pam Cope travels to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Ghana to help ease her pain by easing other’s.

(I am NOT hosting this giveaway – you have to click on the link above and go to Jennygirl’s site.)

Teaser Tuesday
April 14, 2009, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , ,

My Teaser: “So, we were doing what Al referred to as ‘the sensible thing.’ The elderly thin flannel blanket and the kid’s unremarkable underwear had all been checked for identifying labels, or floating sequins, that might pin the job on us.” Pg. 67

Geek Love Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Scranton, PA

T-13, Incheon, South Korea
April 9, 2009, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Buddhism, Travel

Thirteen Thursday

I got my placement for teaching in South Korea. I will be in Incheon, although not sure which area yet.

1. Incheon has 2.4 million people and is the third largest metropolitan area in S. Korea.

2. On Feb. 27, 2007, Incheon declared itself an “English City”, it is also a free economic zone, separate from other economic laws of S. Korea, both of these acts are an effort to attract foreign business, similar to Hong Kong.

3. Jim’s grandfather was stationed here in 1947.

4. They have two professional baseball teams.

5. It is where the main airport into S. Korea is.

6. There are two really tall towers there.

7. Sadly, because it is such a hub of commerce, I’m not seeing much in a search for traditional temples.

8. It is not just one area, but a bunch of islands, and yes, it is fairly close to the N. Korean border.

9. It houses Korea’s only official Chinatown.

10. Pretty pics I’ve stolen off the internet:



13. I found this pic, it’s not built yet, construction started in 2008 and is supposed to end in 2012.

“Korea’s The Most Highest Pure Apartment!”

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Tuesday Teaser: Sorrow Mountain

My Teaser:

“I was born in 1933, the female Water-Bird Year. Since birth I have lived many lives: lives of privilege and happiness, lives of sorrow and loss.”
– – from the prologue of Sorrow Mountain by Ani Pachen.

sorrow mountain

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Urbana, Ohio

The Women of Frank Lloyd Wright
April 6, 2009, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , ,

The Women The Women by T.C. Boyle

In The Women, T.C. Boyle once again takes on a key figure of American culture, and paints a picture of their life from the point of view of the people around that person. Frank Lloyd Wright proved to be an amazingly innovative architect, although it seems often his structures defied structure in their leaky forms.  He was also something of a playboy. He had four wives (well, three and one murdered mistress), and in Boyle’s book, he outlines them in reverse order starting with Olgivanna, a woman from Montenegro he seduces at one of his many parties with intellectuals and world travellers.

His life with Olgivanna is almost destroyed by the wife he was still married to when their romance evolved. Miriam was a hot-headed, opium addicted, glamour queen who even after years never forgave Wright for his infidelity.

Olgivanna 1926
Miriam Noel Wright

The story moves on to Mamah, the lover killed at the Taliesin estate, where all of his wives toiled over growing food for the masses that stayed with them. There was little money to go around, as at the time Lloyd’s career was growing was during the depression. Of course he didn’t see it coming, and had nothing left after divorcing Miriam when the crash came.

Mamah's death report

Taliesin Taliesin – the house on the hill in Wisconsin.

His first wife Kitty, he married when she was barely out of high school. They had six kids together, of which he is said to have showed little interest. Even after Wright was involved with Mamah, Kitty refused to grant him a divorce. In turn, Miriam refuses to grant him a divorce after he impregnates Olgivanna. What amazes me is how fiercely these women held on to him. Huge personalities in their own right, it shows how charismatic and fascinating Wright must have been. And how ridiculous people are in relationships.

This is where the book falls flat. There is very little about Kitty, although I think that is a choice made by the fact that Lloyd’s life really steamed up as he got older. But the final chapters leading up to Mamah’s murder are quite tedious. After devouring the first 3/4ths of the book, I actually skipped several pages and started again when the new help was hired at Taliesin.

The most interesting part of this book, and probably the most unconventional, is the way Tadashi Sato, Lloyd’s Japanese apprentice, is used to narrate the book. The story opens with Tadashi arriving at Taliesin, meeting Lloyd for the first time, and then the chapters take on the tone of a research or journalistic narrative. Tadashi continues to be a presence by adding historical information, and wry humor, using footnotes.

It is interesting to note that T.C. Boyle lives in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in California.

T.C. Boyle Reads from The Women

Some buildings Wright is famous for:
Falling Water

Thursday Thirteen – March Reads

Thirteen Thursday

One of my favorite blogs is my monthly books read column. Here are all the books I read this month (which happens to be thirteen) in the order I read them. Here are my January Reads and February Reads.


2. High Tide in Tucson High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver It’s good for me to read a book about my own country now and again (although several of the passages in this book are of Kingsovers’s travels). Fantastic collection of essays. Interview with the author.

3. Milarepa The Life of Milarepa Translated by Lobsang Lhalungpa For a book that is a translation of an ancient text, I couldn’t believe how it is so full of humor that is still relevant. This is a great introduction to the story of Milarepa, the classic folk hero of Tibet. He was able to reach enlightenment after one lifetime, even after killing thirty people in his village by completely dedicating himself to repenting his actions. (It’s like My Name is Earl in orange robes on the Tibetan plain. 😉 )

4. This is Paradise This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood by Hyok Kang
Kang grew up in North Korea where he and his family nearly starved to death. They believed the propaganda the NK was the most prosperous country on earth and thought if they left they would surely starve and be even worse off. Eventually his father, being tried for crimes against the state, decides they need to flee, where they discover the world is not as they’ve been told.

5. Future of Freedom The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (Revised Edition) by Fareed Zakaria I thought this was a great account of how not all democracies around the world work the same. He looks at the success of several, both in terms of political success, and in how their populace is thriving. He makes some pretty scathing remarks about the Arab world and how their wealth is based on selling resources and if they do not make moves to build infrastructure and society, when those resources are gone so will be their tenuous success.

6. The Man Who Loved China The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by Simon Winchester Interview with the author.

7. Geo of Bliss The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner Besides the fact that I’m a fool for any book with Geography in the title, I loved this book. Full review here.

8. Fever Pitch Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby Okay, I didn’t actually read this book. I loved High Fidelity, and wanted to try another of Hornby’s, but I have no, and I mean no, interest in books about sports. Even though the back jacket said I would like it even if I wasn’t a sports fan. It’s not true.

9. Even After All This Time Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran by Aschinef Latifi

10. George Orwell Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
Probably the best book I read this month. A classic travel narrative following the footsteps of George Orwell’s time in Burma and how his travels affecting his writing. Larkin’s vivid descriptions of Burma really make this book.

11. Axis of Evil Literature from the “Axis of Evil”: Writing from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Other Enemy Nations Published by Words Without Borders

12. Widow of the South The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
Hicks was working on restoring the old Carnton Plantation, a house that had been taken over by Confederate soldiers and made into a makeshift hospital during the Civil War. He got so wrapped up in the history that this book is the fictionalized account of what he learned about the house. It is a fantastic story about Carrie McGavock, the lady of the house, and a soldier she becomes partial to. One of the interesting things for me about this book is that I live in Nashville, and Franklin, the location of this plot, is very close to here. Interview with the author.

13. Big Boy Rules Big Boy Rules: America’s Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq by Steve Fainaru My review here.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!