thoughts on books: one day in the life of ivan denisovich

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn is an amazing book that profiles one day in the life of a prisoner in a Soviet gulag. The story is short and focuses on the daily routine – the little details that come to mean everything in a life that is diminished by imprisonment. Ivan is a poor, uneducated man who is in prison because … well, it’s not really clear. Some other Russian novels use extraordinary characters to describe the dramatic and terrible circumstances of imprisonment, which then inform the prisoner’s struggles. Others tell of people whose special skills or knowledge are exploited, hidden, or contained by an authoritarian government. Ivan’s story is quieter. He represents “the poor” or “the lower class” person who ended up in the gulag for some minor crime or for breaking the rules at the wrong place and time – in the eyes of many, he is a nobody. In reality, he is in a Stalin-era work camp to do menial labor (under horrible conditions) that needs doing – fixing up buildings, repairing things, and anything else that the powers that be deem appropriate.

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the human-cat compromise

My mother is not really a “pet” person. That’s not to say that she doesn’t like dogs and cats – she does – but she’s not used to being around pets. She doesn’t really understand that cats get into stuff, want to explore every nook and cranny in the house, and jump on furniture. She doesn’t understand that cats think everything is a toy or something to kill. And she doesn’t understand that it is generally ok that they explore and get into and play with stuff … so long as they are safe from anything that can do them real harm. She likes my cat Toby and is entertained by him, but also is startled by him tearing around the apartment and jumping on the furniture. I’d hear her “No, no, no” multiple times a day.

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renovations: finishing touches to the kitchen

So, we are here. It is done … well, almost.

It took a while to get to the home stretch but it was worth it – the kitchen looks great! There are a few small pieces to finish – bits of trim, a little paint, reorganizing storage. But, overall, it was worth the effort and it’s really come together nicely. The process was long, but the end result is really lovely.

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