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Archive for the ‘communication’ Tag

The Depth of Friendship   Leave a comment

I’m drawn to novels about women’s friendships: the premise of The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See and I was not disappointed.

Set on the Korean Island of Jeju, the author provides an in-depth look at Korean culture involving female sea divers, an ever-changing political climate and the bonds of friendship that beautifully flourish before painfully disintegrating.

The elderly Young-sook narrates this captivating story of her friendship with Mi-ja. They are different in their experiences and backgrounds. Young-sook’s lineage boasts the respected sea women, divers who carefully harvest from the ocean for their livelihood. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator. They learn to dive together; they share secrets, joys and losses.

As they grow-up their island undergoes numerous political changes beginning with Japanese colonialism to World War II then the Korean War. Poverty is a way of life for the villagers, but the sea women find solace beneath the water’s surface. Through vivid descriptions, See recreates the rural lifestyle of the islanders and the heartbreak they endure in war.

When marriages are arranged for Mi-Ja and Young-sook, they wonder how they’ll survive being apart from one another. Facing the harsh influences of the outside world, their friendship falters until rendered irreparable.

The progression of time is marked through the different regimes, cell phones and indoor plumbing.

Among the novel’s many beauties are the memory of the rich friendship, the presence of Mi-ja’s great granddaughter and, finally, the reader’s awareness of a single perspective being shared.

The Island of Sea Women
Four-and-a-half bookmarks
Scribner, 2019
374 pages

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Canine Communication   Leave a comment

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A few weeks before my birthday one of my sons asked what I’d like as a gift. I gave him a very specific idea, which he pointedly ignored. Instead he gave me How to Speak Dog: A Guide to Decoding Dog Language. Written by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman, a vet and president of the San Diego Humane Society, this fun, informative manual actually helps me to better understand my dog.

I spend a lot of time with my dog, Jackson, so I have always felt in tune with his actions. After reading this guide, I realize I was off-base on some points, but on the mark for others. For example, tail wagging. I erroneously thought all wagging tails were signs of dogs’ playfulness and excitement. This isn’t necessarily true, according to the authors. Occasionally it indicates fear. The way to tell is if only the end of an otherwise high stiff tail wags. The happy wag, on the other hand, is rapid and usually a large sweeping arc-like motion.

History of dogs, attributes of a variety of breeds, different types of barks, movement of ears, yawning and other forms of nonverbal communication are all addressed. Photos, illustrations, scenarios and resources help round out the content. This is a fun, easy-to-read book that most dog owners should find useful.

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This probably is not a book I would have chosen on my own, but this time I appreciate that my son decided to ignore me – please notice that caveat: this time.

How to Speak Dog: A Guide to Decoding Dog Language
Three Bookmarks
National Geographic, 2013
176 pages