Monthly Archives: March 2014

it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. – Frederick Douglass


it was building day in kindergarten and all kinds of things were being built.

both those one could easily see and proudly carry home, and those one could carry inside forever.





I personally believe we were put here to build and not to destroy.
Red Skelton

image credits: j. kurtz




carpe twittum – (‘seize the tweet’)



    in what must be one of the most unusual jobs ever, michigan monsignor daniel gallagher, translates pope francis’ spanish tweets into latin, for the more than 230,000 people who follow his twitter feed in that classic language. he is the only american among seven specialists in ‘the office of latin letters at the vatican secretary of state.’ 

gallagher attended the university of michigan, (my alma mater, where we did not cross paths), and studied the sciences, graduating with a microbiology degree. while here, he also took a few latin classes and considered going into medicine, but after graduation, he went in another direction completely and entered the seminary. this led him to rome, (‘all roads lead to rome?’), where he went to study latin and eventually began working in the vatican offices translating latin documents into english.

with the recent onset of the papal step into social media, his new job was created, and it’s clear he loves it. he averages about 4 papal tweets/translations a week and says, ‘it’s a language that transcends cultures and nations, and so many people, especially young people, still crave latin, because it is so much fun. the popularity of the pope’s latin twitter account shows that latin is far from dead.’ (now, how many people can say that?)

gallagher says the learning curve is quite long, with no turnover, and therefore expects it to be a lifelong thing, though he serves at the will of the pope. pope francis stops by his office and invites him to mass occasionally, and he finds him to be quite humble and pleasant.

the pope now has almost 12 million twitter followers.

his latin twitter handle is: @Pontifex_In


all of this has me wondering. i wonder if his mother is disappointed that he didn’t become a doctor? i wonder if he has any connections, and can help our UM wolverines pull off a big win in march madness? i wonder how he sees latin as ‘fun’?’ why are a quarter of a million people choosing to read twitter in latin?’ as a former childhood catholic, am i going to be hit by lightning for wondering these things? just some of the deep questions i now have. and if i spoke latin, could i tweet him to ask for answers?.

Quidquid latine dictum, altum videtur.
Translation: “Whatever is said in Latin seems profound.”
latin quote credit: Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs Routledge. p. 965. ISBN 0415096243.
 title/faux latin translation credit: me

make the ordinary come alive



Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

credits: poetry by William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching, image by

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ― Stephen King



literati – my favorite local independent book store.

their first book club night ever. 

that’s me, 3rd person on the left in a white sweater. so happy to be there.

so happy to support them.

they’ve made it. one full year.

and this is what they wrote about how happy they are.

One Year Anniversary Party!

March 28, 29, and 30th!
The end of March marks our One Year Anniversary! To celebrate, we’re throwing a party.
All. Weekend. Long.

All weekend will be treats, raffles, and fun. On Sunday, we’re donating 50% of proceeds to BINC, a locally-focused non-profit that supports booksellers across the country.

We are thrilled to be part of this community. It’s been a dream come true. We are proud to be Ann Arbor residents, to return to the area we were raised, and bring an independent bookstore that sells new books to the downtown area. One year down, and with your help, hopefully many more to come… 

This year. It’s really hard to articulate how much gratitude and thanks we have to this community. We recently read the dialogue in the NYTimes about how bookstores can survive. It was more a question — “Can they survive?” Certainly, opening a small independent bookstore is not the safest way to ensure a long, viable career. There are concerns and fears about rising downtown rents, online booksellers, e-readers… to name a few.

But this first year proves to me one thing: People want books. People want an event space. People want a downtown location to browse books, share ideas, attend author events, book clubs, story times, and a safe, welcoming place to surprise themselves. We’ve seen so many surprises this year: A marriage proposal on our typewriter. A Halloween literary-themed costume contest. A violin monster and a 7-year-old beginning a pen pal relationship. Friends who hadn’t seen each other in 20 years bumping into each other, wildly enthusiastic, hugging. World War II veterans talking to 20-somethings about their experiences. 
One year down. We are still here. We are still surviving. And it’s all because of you.

Sincerely, thank you. 
-Mike and Hilary and the rest of the Literati staff

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ― Mark Twain

Gifts have ribbons, not strings.  – Vanna Bonta



i traveled back from visiting my family in australia with this little gem in my bag. it was a super cool dino, who screamed like a banshee for 20 seconds when you squeezed its belly, and it was going to be a amazing and easy gift for baby j back in the states, when his birthday rolled around in 6 months. 

once on the trip, a unexpected logistical issue arose. periodically, and without any pattern or warning, i would hear it shriek in my carry- on bag. and, periodically, i would explain to those around me, and in customs and security, that it was simply a harmless toy, gone a bit bad. it was important that it made it home, as it was a gift for my grand baby j, one he simply could not live without. 

through some miracle of human kindness, it was allowed to travel all the way with me, and once home, i happily put it into my ‘box of upcoming and unusual gifts that people in my life cannot live without.’ every so often, i would hear it’s happy shriek, a bit muffled and coming from the box. i could not wait for the big day!

finally, j’s birthday was on the horizon and i took it out to wrap. i thought again about how he would be so happy to get this gift and annoy the whole family with it for hours on end. that is when i squeezed it myself,and noticed that things had clearly changed. now when i squeezed it, it would not make any noise at all and then when it finally did, it simply would not stop the shrieking for a long, long time!


i called my family in australia, and my daughter suggested that it may have a battery inside that needed changing. who knew? she actually was right, and i wrestled a battery out of it, unwinding the screw that was the size of a fairy hat, and found a replacement after a visit to numerous stores. at last, it had stopped screaming.

i took it to school to have my teaching partner do the required surgery to replace its life force, as she is much more tech-savvy than i, and thought the problem would soon be solved. the good news, is that it now had a fresh source of power, the bad – it refused to stop shrieking again, as soon as she put the battery in. she quickly removed it once more, and i decided to present it with its guts torn out, thinking i would replace its insides on-site, for dramatic effect. and i couldn’t leave the battery around, as he was little and might swallow it, so it had to be an all or nothing choice. this was turning out to be quite an amazing and easy gift!



i arrived at his house, and told the family the backstory and proceeded to insert the battery once more. of course, it began shrieking again immediately and baby j loved it! and the rest of the family hated it and asked me/begged me to remove the battery immediately! i took it back out and we found the above unusual note on the neck tag of the dino/banshee. and it kind of made sense. 


we also discovered the reason that it may not have worked exactly right.

apparently the toymakers had imprinted it, but forgotten to actually add this button to the toy.


so, we decided to ignore the warning note and took things into our own hands. the outdoor fire pit was too snowy to work.


we took it back indoors, but we decided we would probably be killed by the fumes, if we followed through with its execution by fire.



so we threw the battery away, deep in the trash.

and dino joined the others who found themselves in the pile of extinct toys.

it was a long journey, but somehow we managed to all have a lot of fun with it.

and that was the gift.

The greatest of all gifts is the power to estimate things at their true worth
 François De La Rochefoucauld

To be able to look back upon one’s past life with satisfaction is to live twice. – Lord Acton



     freda kelly was just a shy teenager from liverpool who left school at 16 to make her way in the world. in this documentary, freda tells her story for the first time after 50 years, for very personal reasons all her own. it is the story of a young girl, who, through fate and circumstance, found herself working for a local band, the beatles, hoping to make it big. while none of them had any concept of how far they would go, it was her undying loyalty and dedication that kept her in their inner circle, a rare thing among the many who came and went from their universe.


at only 16, she became their devoted personal secretary and fan club president, and she understood the young girls’ frenzy them as they grew in fame, as she was herself just a young girl, as well as a fan. she was fiercely protective of each of them and never was swayed by the fame and fortune that came along. Freda saw it all, and became a sister and friend to them, and a daughter to their families. 


she witnessed their evolution to international fame and watched history unfold before her eyes, taking it all in with amazement and pride.



it was her dream job, and she was there at the beginning, and there at the end. and as was said, ‘they were together for 10 years, and she worked for them for 11 years.’  the archival footage in this film is amazing, and if you are a fan of the beatles, music history, or just of the pure and sweet side of human nature, you will fall in love with freda and with this movie.


freda today, as she tells her story, with a few tears and a lot of laughter.

You learn from a conglomeration of the incredible past –

whatever experience gotten in any way whatsoever.
Bob Dylan


image credits: magnolia pictures, the,,scope features,sxsw film festival