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karenmarie's non-fiction journal

Non-Fiction Challenge / Journal

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1karenmarie
Edited: Jan 24, 2016, 9:52am Top

Even though I've been on LT since 2007, I hadn't found this group until today. Sad and strange.

Anyway, I read more fiction than non-fiction, but usually read 5-10 non-fiction books per year. I tend towards history and memoir.

I've put all my non-fiction reads since joining LT in the next post, then plan on recording individual books starting 2016 forward.

Cheers!

2karenmarie
Edited: Jan 1, 2016, 11:45am Top

2008-2015 non-fiction reads

2008
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
Reading Judas The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity by Elaine Pagels
Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Assault on Reason by Al Gore
Agatha Christie An Autobiography
Pirkei Avos with a Twist of Humor by Joe Bobker
Shades of Glory by Lawrence D. Hogan
The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown
Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
The Watercooler Effect by Nicholas Difonzo
Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
The American Journey of Barack Obama by The Editors of Life Magazine
1776 by David McCullough
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian by Stephen E. Ambrose
I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after 20 Years Away by Bill Bryson
An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

2009
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart by Gordon Livingston 01/04/09 01/11/09 **1/2
China Road by Rob Gifford 01/08/09 01/22/09 ***1/2
The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr 01/24/09 01/28/09 ****
Justinian's Flea by William Rosen 01/28/09 02/07/09 **1/2
Stupid American History by Leland Gregory 03/18/09 3/20/09 ****
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind by Diana Preston 05/23/09 05/27/09 ***1/2
Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All by Christina Thompson 08/27/09 08/29/09 ****
Viruses, Plagues, & History by Michael B. A. Oldstone 10/28/09 11/13/09 ***
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan 12/13/09 12/31/09 ***1/2
Mayflower by Nathan Philbrick 05/31/09 06/17/09 ****
The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto 09/22/09 10/09/09 ****

2010
The Three Stooges Scrapbook by Jeff Lenburg 01/11/10 01/14/10 ***
When Blanche Met Brando: The Scandalous Story of "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Sam Staggs. 03/07/10 03/10/10 ***1/2
Songs My Mother Taught Me by Marlon Brando 03/19/10 03/21/10 ****
Brando by Patricia Bosworth 03/21/10 03/22/10 ***
No Instructions Needed by Robert G. Hewitt 03/12/10 04/02/10 ***1/2
Open by Andre Agassi 04/08/10 04/09/10 ***1/2
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell 05/15/10 ***1/2
The Diary of Samuel Pepys 03/04/10 03/13/10 ****
Krakatoa by Simon Winchester 07/10/10 07/18/10 ***
My Life by Bill Clinton 05/22/10 05/28/10 ***1/2
Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis 07/01/10 07/30/10 ****
The Strange Case of Hellish Nell by Nina Shandler. 12/12/10 12/19/10 **

2011
Was Shakespeare Shakespeare? by Milward Martin 04/29/11 04/29/11 ***1/2
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson 04/29/11
Mama Makes Up Her Mind by Bailey White 07/06/11 07/07/11 ****
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud 07/15/11 08/08/11 ***1/2
Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes 08/12/11 08/15/11 ****
She's Not There by Jennifer Boylan 08/21/11 08/28/11 ***
I'm Looking Through You by Jennifer Finney Boylan 09/07/11 ***1/2

2012
Learning to Bow by Brude Feiler 02/04/12 02/07/12 ****
The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmussen 02/28/12 03/01/12 ***1/2
In the Wake of the Plague by Norman F. Cantor 04/17/12 04/21/12 **
The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt 05/17/12 05/25/12 ****
Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards 06/06/12 06/07/12 ****1/2
Outrage by Vincent Bugliosi 08/23/12 09/01/12 ***1/2
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy 09/24/12 09/28/12 ***
Tutankhamun: The Untold Story by Thomas Hoving 11/15/12 11/19/12 ****

2013
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale 02/17/13 02/22/13 ***1/2
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 02/24/13 03/02/13 ***1/2
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris 3/8/13 3/26/13 ****
Yokohama Yankee by Leslie Helm 03/29/13 4/1/13 ****
Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel DeWorskin 09/15/13 9/22/13 ***1/2
1493 by Charles C. Mann 9/24/13 9/30/13 ****
The Decipherment of Linear B by John Chadwick 12/27/13 12/30/13 ***

2014
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer 1/3/14 1/12/14 ****
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson 4/1/14 4/6/14 ****
American Hippopotamus by Jon Mooallem 4/24/14 4/26/14 ****1/2
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris 10/18/14 10/18/14 ***1/2

2015
Desert Queen by Janet Wallach 2/5/15 2/15/15 **** 377 pages
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson 7/6/15 7/14/15 **** 1/2
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson 7/15/15 8/16/15 ****
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson 8/15/15 8/24/15 ****
A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester 11/20/15 12/9/15 ****

Well, that was fun. :)

3qebo
Jan 1, 2016, 5:18pm Top

Nice to see you here! I'll probably create a new thread when I finish my first non-fiction of 2016.

4karenmarie
Jan 2, 2016, 3:59am Top

Thanks, qebo. Insomnia has struck (it's 3:58 a.m.) and I'm 47 pages from finishing van Loon's Geography.

5karenmarie
Jan 2, 2016, 10:14am Top

And, my first finished book of 2016 is non-fiction.

1. Van Loon's Geography by Hendrik Willem Van Loon. 11/1/15 01/02/16 ***1/2 Here is my review: van Loon's Geography

6mabith
Jan 7, 2016, 12:29am Top

Hello Karen! looking forward to seeing your reads. I'm just off to set up my thread now.

7karenmarie
Edited: Jan 7, 2016, 6:40pm Top

2. The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto 12/9/15 1/7/16 ***1/2 A wonderful book about the history of the Dutch in what has become the United States - from the early 1600s through their loss of Manhattan and New Netherland to the English in 1664. Dutch influence is everywhere if you look hard enough, and Russell Shorto looks through historical records of both the Dutch and English, including the larger-than-life figures of Peter Minuit and Peter Stuyvesant and lesser known but arguably more important people like Adriaen van der Donck. Nothing is too large or to small to bring to the table of his argument for the profound and positive Dutch influence, more than that of the Puritans or Pilgrims, that has caused the United States to become a unique world power.

I first listened to this book in 2009 and wanting to listen to some non-fiction and not having anything new, decided to listen to it again. I'm very glad I did.

8qebo
Jan 7, 2016, 6:50pm Top

>7 karenmarie: I read that a few years ago, and alas never got around to reviewing it, too bad because I retain an overall impression of engaging reading, and would wish to remember more details.

9karenmarie
Edited: Jan 9, 2016, 7:39am Top

I was happy to listen to it again to get those details back, qebo. I'm not exactly of Dutch ancestry, but I'm 10th generation American on a 2nd-great-grandmother's side - HER 3rd great-grandfather Rene Piatt was born in France in the 1650s but was in Piscataway New Jersey marrying Elizabeth Sheffield in 1677. The Dutch connection is that he was French Huegenot and fled to Holland and from Holland may have gone to England then possibly to South Carolina. Huh. I've never really thought about that before in exactly that way.

10karenmarie
Edited: Jan 9, 2016, 7:46am Top

Hi Meredith! I see that you, too, have a kitty with a gender-opposite name, Todd. (My sister has a boy Todd kitty, huge, and sleekly black). My kitty was a girl named Merlin. Our daughter was 3 when we decided to get 2 kitties, and having recently been to a party with lots of kitties with interesting names, she immediately named the two new ones Merlin (girl) and Magic (boy). Merlin lived to 18 and Magic died young at 15 1/2. Other recent kitties were Coco Chanel who lived to 16 and the kitty I had when we got married, Imsai, who lived to 16 1/2. My husband has said that he would like to come back as one of our kitties because they are so well loved and pampered.

I've started Pacific: Silicon Chips by Simon Winchester, a gift from daughter for Christmas.

11karenmarie
Jan 14, 2016, 7:09am Top

Pacific: Silicon Chips has an interesting premise, but I am a bit disappointed. His premise is that he's going to start with 1950 - the date that scientists use as the beginning of the era when Carbon-14 emissions (from bombs) tainted the atmosphere. He's picked 10 incidents (I think 10.....) and is explaining them in detail. They are very interesting and his writing is as wonderful as always.

12mabith
Jan 14, 2016, 6:22pm Top

>10 karenmarie: It's always fun taking those kitties to the vet and having someone ask me if I'm *sure* Todd is a girl... (I was feeling melancholy when I got her so her name should really be Tod as it's from a Cockney rhyming slang phrase 'on your Tod' meaning on your own.) Those are better pet names than most 3 year olds come up with!

I find Simon Winchester is really hit or miss for me. I've loved a couple, found some okay but not stand-out, and then really disliked one.

13karenmarie
Jan 17, 2016, 4:49pm Top

I guess our vet knew Merlin so long that they stopped asking whether "she" was a Merlin or not. We loved the names daughter came up with for the kitties. We have also had a gecko named Jeremy, rats named Snoopy and Woodstock, and a plecostomus named Big Guy - he started as a 1/2" algae eater and ended up, 8 years later, 9" long. We buried him properly along with the rats and the gecko and the 3 kitties.

IMO Simon Winchester's Pacific premise is very thin, and the stories he's picked to illustrate the Pacific are .... tentative..... but as stories, and history, they are told with verve and style. Take them alone and they are great essays.

14mabith
Jan 17, 2016, 6:15pm Top

Your daughter definitely did way better on the pet names than any of the toddlers in my family. Not that I can talk, I named the first cat I got to name was Tortoiseshell. No prizes for guessing what coloring that cat had!

Winchester's Atlantic was the book I really disliked by him. He left out many interesting modern things actually related to the ocean to talk about 9/11, and some of his metaphors were just the most ridiculous, pretentious middle-schooler language (having been a somewhat pretentious middle-schooler myself I feel I can judge that).

15karenmarie
Edited: Jan 18, 2016, 6:48pm Top

Ha. The first cat I named was Fuzzy. But as a family we were pretty good - Taffy for an orange tabby, Ebony for his pure black sibling, Sassy Fras for their calico daughter (or perhaps a neighbor boy kitty's daughter - Ebby never said...). We had Martini for a pure white cat with green eyes - Dad said she reminded him of a Martini with olives. We had a Siamese named Saki, a black-and-white boy named Hershel (?), and I've had Imsai, B'Naj, Coco Chanel, and Inara Starbuck. Plus Kitty William and a few others.

At least with Pacific: Silicon Chips he's working the Pacific Ocean border countries pretty well so far. I'm on page 203 of 444 and happy to continue.

16thornton37814
Jan 19, 2016, 4:05pm Top

>15 karenmarie: Your first cat was luckier in name than mine. I was learning letters at the time and named mine "E. R. M." Don't ask me why.

17karenmarie
Jan 19, 2016, 6:27pm Top

E.R.M. is charming, Lori.

Innocent kidlet stories are fun - two of my favorite concerning my daughter are

1. When she was 3-4 or so, we would buy TastyKake Pecan Swirls. She called them Pecan Squirrels.

2. When she was 4 1/2-5, we built the home we're in now. Foundation, framing..... once we had rudimentary stairs to go up to her room/playroom, bathroom, and guest bedroom, she sat in the bathtub, which didn't have drywall up yet and said that she liked the bathtub because she'd be able to say hi to people coming upstairs while she was taking her bath.

8 more days of work and then Retirement.

18.Monkey.
Jan 20, 2016, 4:27am Top

*chuckles @ E.R.M.* xD

My first cat was Rocky and my first dog was Fluppy (after the Fluppy Dogs, a Disney TV animated movie, and book). Of course, every single person who ever was told her name would go "Fluffy?" and then get all confused. Hahaha.

19karenmarie
Jan 21, 2016, 6:59am Top

Rocky and Fluppy are perfectly respectable names.

20karenmarie
Jan 24, 2016, 9:51am Top

3. Pacific: Silicon Chips by Simon Winchester 1/3/16 1/24/16 ***1/2 444 pages hardcover. Here's my review: Pacific

21karenmarie
Jan 24, 2016, 10:31am Top

So as a reward for finishing a large fact-filled book, I decided to go for a ROOT challenge and read The Unstrung Harp by Edward Gorey. I absolutely adore sentences like

"He cannot help but feel that Lirp's return and almost immediate impalement on the bottle-tree was one of his better ideas."

22karenmarie
Jan 27, 2016, 6:41pm Top

Well, I'm down to 2 days of work before I retire. Probably more like 1 day and 5 or so hours. Yay. I was in a meeting this afternoon to resolve a problem that I identified last August, tried to get people going on, didn't succeed, then gave up, figuring it would come to a head when we needed to ship. Sure enough, today was the day. Costing wasn't done, Finance didn't know which rev was being built, what the sales order was calling for, miscommunications to Assembly who built the exact right thing, but created the inventory for the wrong rev. I did what I could, left the rest for tomorrow, and washed my hands of it. So glad I won't have to worry about "Hurricane" after Friday afternoon.

23mabith
Jan 27, 2016, 7:36pm Top

Congrats on your almost retirement! Definitely sounds like it will be nice to slough off that issue.

24karenmarie
Feb 5, 2016, 6:46pm Top

3. Pacific: Silicon Chips by Simon Winchester 1/3/16 1/24/16 ***1/2 444 pages hardcover Review: Pacific

25karenmarie
Feb 5, 2016, 6:46pm Top

4. At Home by Bill Bryson 1/8/16 **audiobook** **** 560 pages hardcover For me, every book by Bill Bryson is a treat. This one is no different. His premise is to take the rectory his family lived in in Britain and, room by room, discuss the evolution of that room, or activities related to that room, or anything remotely tangential to that room. Lots of history, interesting facts, whimsy, complaints , biography, introspection, etc. I love him reading his own books and can't imagine listening to anybody else reading them.

26karenmarie
Edited: Feb 5, 2016, 6:48pm Top

I'm on a roll! I received Bryson's newest in the mail a couple of days ago and after quickly reading two mysteries, have immersed myself in a Bryson-a-thon. It's marvelous - The Road to Little Dribbling has him once again traveling Britain, sometimes going to new places, sometimes to places he's already written about. Amusing, bitchy, witty, chock full of facts and fun stuff as only he can make a book.

27thornton37814
Feb 5, 2016, 8:02pm Top

>26 karenmarie: Just ordered that one for the library today. We have a few non-fiction fans that will probably love it.

28karenmarie
Feb 8, 2016, 1:48pm Top

5. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson 2/4/16 2/8/16 *** 376 pages hardcover. A more fun than not book, but not to be read within 6 months of reading any of his other travel books. Same format, same priorities - pubs, hotels, walking, social commentary about something and then an exclamatory sentence of approval or disgust. I learned a lot about how places are now in comparison to how they were. In fairness, I also learned about the brochs of Scotland and the White Horse of Uffington and quite a few things otherwise - it's a good thing I have a smartphone so I can quickly look things up to see pictures of them. Or to get further information.

I've pulled down a ROOT and a non-fiction book combined - A Key into the Language of America by Roger Williams.

29karenmarie
Mar 28, 2016, 8:53am Top

I'm still reading A Key into the Language of America by Roger Williams, but have also picked up The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis. Quartet was a (requested) Christmas present from daughter.

30karenmarie
Edited: Apr 22, 2016, 9:27am Top

6. Yesterday while working with Dell to once again fix my computer back to Windows 8 after foolishly upgrading to Windows 10 (note to Dell users: check with Dell prior to upgrading. not all of their computers are compatible with Windows 10.), I picked up A Key into the Language of America that I started in February and finally finished it. Another non-fiction book for the year!

Here's my review: A Key Into the Language of America

31karenmarie
Apr 22, 2016, 9:27am Top

I've decided on instant gratification by reading a short-but-sweet set of essays by Benjamin Franklin, On the Choice of a Mistress. 59 pages, 8 essays, first one already read.

32karenmarie
Apr 24, 2016, 1:53pm Top

7. On the Choice of a Mistress by Benjamin Franklin. Clever, occasionally vulgar, always ironic, the essays were a joy to read.

33karenmarie
Jul 16, 2016, 3:00pm Top

8. String Theory by David Foster Wallace with an Introduction by John Jeremiah Sullivan. 07/14/16 to 07/15/16. ****1/2

Here's my review: String Theory

I love David Foster Wallace's writing. It's challenging and demanding yet fun.

34karenmarie
Edited: Jul 20, 2016, 11:37am Top

9. Hot Guys and Kittens by Audrey Kuhner. 07/16/16 to 07/16/16. ****

A birthday present from a friend of mine. Frivolous, funny, made me smile. It's not exactly fiction, it's not exactly non-fiction, but it's got photos and I think the guys names' are real. :)

35karenmarie
Edited: Nov 22, 2016, 5:42am Top

Wow. Out of sight, out of mind. I've read 3 non-fiction books since last posting.

10 Where God Was Born by Bruce Feiler 7/30/16 8/18/16 *** **audiobook** 381 pages trade paperback

36karenmarie
Nov 22, 2016, 5:42am Top

11. America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis
09/15/16 - 11/03/16





Kenneth C. Davis is one of several authors I have read in the last 10 years or so who delve into the personalities, power struggles, motivations, and … er… hidden history of the United States. These authors, including but not limited to Nathan Philbrick, Joseph Ellis, and David McCullough, do us a great service in alerting us to the richness and complexity of history in general and American History in particular. Their writings highlight the abysmally sterile and meager pieces of American History doled out in schools across the country.

I have been a student of history ever since I was in high school and felt, at the time, that I received a pretty good education in and understanding of How The United States Came To Be.

Columbus, Roanoake, Pilgrims and Puritans, George Washington, July 4, 1776, Lexington and Concord, Valley Forge, Jefferson, Adams, Benjamin Franklin, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, Paul Revere, ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’, manifest destiny against the Native Americans, and etc.

That is probably about 1/10th of 1% of what really happened in the 18th century in North America, and it now infuriates me that I’m only finding out more of what really happened. I’ve now read about the Dutch settlements in the Northeast, the political maneuvering between the Dutch and the English, the French influence in the Northeast, and many of the people slighted by History without whom we would have never created the first republic voted into existence by the people of the colonies (admittedly white male landowners). I’ve also read more about the strengths, foibles, weaknesses, stubbornness, and brilliance of the men and women who contributed to what has become the United States of America.

America’s Hidden History details the stories of the first real ‘pilgrims’, who were wine-making French Heugenots, Queen Isabella and how pigs influenced the spread of disease to Native Americans, the bloody relationship between Puritans and Native Americans, Benedict Arnold as war hero prior to becoming the Worst Traitor in American History, George Washington as war criminal who signed a confession and started a war, and more.

The writing is interesting, detailed, and cohesive. Each subject has a timeline, the history, and a conclusion. I recommend this book to any student of American History.

37karenmarie
Edited: Nov 22, 2016, 5:56am Top

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
11/03/16 to 11/21/16





From Amazon:
David Sedaris plays in the snow with his sisters. He goes on vacation with his family. He gets a job selling drinks. He attends his brother's wedding. He mops his sister's floor. He gives directions to a lost traveler. He eats a hamburger. He has his blood sugar tested. It all sounds so normal, doesn't it? In his newest collection of essays, David Sedaris lifts the corner of ordinary life, revealing the absurdity teeming below its surface. His world is alive with obscure desires and hidden motives -- a world where forgiveness is automatic and an argument can be the highest form of love.

David Sedaris is merciless. Almost the entire book is a sly picking away at the people he loves, a sledgehammer to the people peripheral to his life, and total honesty about his own motives and feelings. Yet every once in a while we are given a glimpse of the real love he feels for his parents, his siblings, and his niece Maddy. It is always a joy to either read or listen to him narrate his own books. In this audiobook he absolutely nails his brother Paul’s high-pitched, fast, vulgar, and hilarious voice, his own whininess while trying to describe to Parisian friends and his lover Hugh that the fake hand was rubber NOT plastic, and the endless bickering between siblings.

38karenmarie
Dec 7, 2016, 8:45am Top

I posted the following on my other two challenge threads Monday:

Well, my mother is not doing well at all and I've been summoned to California. We have a cousin who works for American Airlines and she was gracious enough to help me get a standby flight tomorrow morning at 5:49 a.m. EST, so my husband will be driving me to the airport at 3:30 a.m.

Ticket's one way since I don't know how long I'll be there.

I'll be taking my computer, almost as a security blanket. I'll be staying at Mom's house because my sister now has her mother-in-law and a 24/7 caregiver living there, taking up the two spare bedrooms. My sister might spend some nights with me there. I hope so. I'm not sure I can deal with Mom's lodgers by myself.

It's only about 10 minutes away from where Mom's in the board-and-care facility.


My mother passed away yesterday morning around 5 a.m. I didn't get into Ontario CA until 10:30. I missed saying good bye in person, but did get to speak with her on the phone Sunday - we had a very nice, coherent, loving conversation. Monday afternoon while my sister Laura and BiL Mike were there I also got to say hi, but she was rambling a bit and am not sure if she knew I was on the phone.

It is what it is. Laura and I went to get her belongings from the board-and-care center yesterday and went to make cremation and other arrangements.

I decided I just couldn't handle staying at Mom's house and have to deal with Ann and Terril, the lodgers, and Laura now has her Mother-in-Law and a caregiver living with them, taking up the two spare bedrooms, so I'm at a hotel. I don't mind at all, and actually am appreciating the aloneness right now.

My sister will come get me in about 3 1/2 hours to go to Mom's house. Her daughter, my niece Heather, is meeting us there.

39jessibud2
Dec 7, 2016, 9:00am Top

So sorry to hear of your loss, Karen. Losing a parent is never easy, no matter when or how. Distance only makes the situation tougher. Good that you have your sister to share it all with and don't have to deal with everything on your own. {{Be gentle with yourself.}}

40drneutron
Dec 7, 2016, 1:43pm Top

So sorry for your loss. I definitely get why a hotel con be a blessing in the situation.

41thornton37814
Dec 8, 2016, 8:54am Top

>38 karenmarie: Sorry about your loss. 6 years 9 months later, I still miss my mom.

42mabith
Dec 8, 2016, 1:05pm Top

So sorry for your loss, Karen. I hope you can find alone time when you need it and together time when you need that.

43karenmarie
Edited: Dec 15, 2016, 10:20am Top

Thank you Shelley, Jim, Lori, and Meredith.

The plane landed last night about 5 p.m., we stopped for a bite to eat, then I got home about 7 p.m.

Insult to injury - when my sister and I went to view Mom's body, they had already cremated her. So I didn't get to say good bye even after her death. My sister cried hysterically, but I'm not much of a crier. I've spoken with a manager or the crematorium once, a highly unsatisfactory call, and now my sister is having a lawyer friend craft a Demand Letter for full refund of the cremation expenses. It's not that we want the money per se, it's that we want them to feel their mistake in the only way they apparently understand. We also have a good lawsuit according to the lawyer friend, but we'll see about that. I've spoken with a manager once, and he apologized but took no personal blame. He only blamed the woman we worked with, and offered us cremation jewelry and/or an upgraded urn. He sounded scared. And then didn't do what he said he'd do. He said he'd call on Monday and hasn't called me since. We're distraught AND furious.

And we can't find Mom's will, but we have hired her lawyer to settle her estate. We've looked absolutely everywhere we can think of. We also looked in places that didn't make sense and found pictures, old high school year books, concert programs from when Mom was in bands/orchestras in high school and college, and various and sundry newspaper articles from 60 or so years ago. But no will.

We think the lawyer might have the original - he's semi-retired and has things stored several places. Once he finds their files, we'll hope it's there. If he doesn't have it, I do have the original of a codicil to her will and an official bound copy of her will. Maybe that will work. And if not, he'll guide us through what to do.

I love my parents deeply and realize that they were terrible at managing their money, bless their hearts. I'm going to be busy for several more months with financial things, then, of course, there will be taxes. Fortunately I found her accountant's name amongst her tax filings.

And so on and so on.

While in California I found it difficult to do much reading. I did read an unsatisfactory Regency romance.

I did, however, get a lot of good reading done on the plane trip to CA and back - a stunningly good book about Moral Psychology and how liberals and conservatives differ on which of the six foundations of Moral Psychology activate their political feelings/affiliations/voting activities. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it. It requires some thought but is written for the lay person. It's called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt (pronounced height).

Time to get more coffee and unpack....

Thank all of you again for your sympathy, condolences, and empathy. Every time I logged on and looked, I felt stronger and comforted.

44karenmarie
Edited: Dec 18, 2016, 12:25pm Top

We had a husband's side of the family party last night. Expressions of sympathy and love abounded but didn't overshadow the Christmas get together. Lots of fun playing games, good food, some fantastic and some .... interesting.... presents. Anybody want some K-cups? A cousin knows I love coffee but doesn't realize I don't have a Keurig brewer. But I did get two coffee cups and some other thoughtful gifts, including A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain. Of course I asked for it - I learned that several years ago. Just ask for the books you want rather than stress people out by not knowing what you already have and just guessing.

We decorated the tree today. Husband and I had put the lights on before I went to CA, and with daughter home this morning we had fun decorating it.


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