Thursday, April 17, 2014

If Jesus lived in the 21st century

He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep?  Could you not keep awake one hour?" — Mark 14:37

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Mindfulness ~ what matters?

What's that, again?
In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved,
how gently you lived, and
how gracefully you let go
of things not meant for you.
Who said it?
The Buddha

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ Library Loot

This week's loot from the library includes one I got because it's about twins whose hometown is St. Louis, where I plan to move in a few weeks.  Yesterday, I learned from Joy's Book Blog that St. Louis is celebrating its 250th birthday.
Sisterland ~ by Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld, 2013, fiction (Missouri)

From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else.  Kate and Vi were born with peculiar "senses" — innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets.  Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.  Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis.  Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children.  But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift.  After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified.  Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right.  As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.

The other book was recommended by Nancy, the Bookfool ~ I tried to get the second in the series (of three) by Ben H. Winters, but it's a new book and was not yet on the shelves.  It's on hold for me, and I hope it is available by the time I finish reading this first one.  I don't often read mysteries, but Nancy recommends these books.  Even though this book was acquired "SEP 2012," it has that new book smell and has never been read.

The Last Policeman ~ by Ben H. Winters, 2012, mystery (New Hampshire)

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?  Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view.  There’s no chance left.  No hope.  Just six precious months until impact.  Winters presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States.  The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields.  Churches and synagogues are packed.  People all over the world are walking off the job — but not Hank Palace.  He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week — except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.  As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond "whodunit."  What basis does civilization rest upon?  What is life worth?  What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beginning ~ with a different story

Herland and Selected Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman ~ edited and with an Introduction by Barbara H. Solomon (Herland was published in 1915, the Introduction in 1992), fiction
This is written from memory, unfortunately.  If I could have brought with me the material I so carefully prepared, this would be a very different story.
This is a good hook to drag the reader into the story of Herland, in my opinion.  Not that I needed it.  I've been reading and re-reading the novel Herland about once a decade since the 1970s, and I've written about it several times on this blog, as in this example.  Here's a summary of the story:
The book describes an isolated society composed entirely of women.  They reproduce by parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction) and have an ideal society free of war, conflict, and domination.  The men who find this isolated culture think they've found heaven, assuming the women will treat them royally.
This version, edited by Barbara Solomon, includes her own introduction and twenty stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, including the well-known "The Yellow Wallpaper" from 1892 that is often read in women's studies classes.  Here are the opening paragraphs of the Introduction:
In the spring of 1887, a depressed and desperate young woman from Providence, Rhode Island, traveled to Philadelphia to consult Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell, the famous physician and specialist in nervous disorders.  She had been ill for about three years, experiencing symptoms which today might well lead to a medical diagnosis of clinical depression.  Moreover, her situation and misery were perfect examples of the condition which would be described so accurately three-quarters of a century later by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique as "The Problem That Has No Name."

After a month of treatment at S. Weir Mitchell's sanitarium, the young woman was discharged with the following prescription:  "Live as domestic a life as possible. ... Have but two hours' intellectual life a day.  And never touch pen, brush, or pencil as long as you live."

Fortunately for posterity, the patient, who was Charlotte Perkins Gilman (though at the time she was Charlotte Perkins Stetson), found it impossible to live according to the doctor's instructions.  She later wrote in her autobiography that those directions caused her to come very close to losing her mind.

Thus, in the fall of 1888, still in poor health and with little money, Charlotte Perkins Stetson did the unthinkable.  She left Walter Stetson, her husband of four years, and traveled with her three-year-old daughter, Katharine, to Pasadena, California.  There she began a life characterized by the independence, determination, and hard work which were to be her salvation.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali ~ by Gil Courtemanche

Twenty years ago, 800,000 people were killed in the Rwandan genocide.  The killing began 20 years ago today.  If you are willing to "experience" the event through a book, I recommend A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali ~ by Gil Courtemanche, published in 2000.  I read it shortly after it was published, long before I had a book blog.  Here's a summary.
This is a moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.  All manner of Kigali residents pass their time by the pool of the Mille-Collines hotel:  aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates, UN peacekeepers, prostitutes.  Keeping a watchful eye is Bernard Valcourt, a jaded foreign journalist, but his closest attention is devoted to Gentille, a hotel waitress with the slender, elegant build of a Tutsi.  As they slip into an intense, improbable affair, the delicately balanced world around them – already devastated by AIDS – erupts in a Hutu-led genocide against the Tutsi people.  Valcourt’s efforts to spirit Gentille to safety end in their separation.  It will be months before he learns of his lover’s shocking fate.
Today, Rwanda is mourning the dead.  Click to enlarge the chart, to see what was happening during the hundred days of the genocide in 1994.  In the early 2000s, I met one of the men who fled Rwanda and was living in Chattanooga.  I met him through his wife, and today I should check to see if she's still working a couple of miles from where I live.

Here's David Batzofin's travel blog, which includes photos of the genocide memorial.  I was most moved by one little girl's memorial:
Fillette UWASE
Age:  2
Favorite toy:  doll
Best friend:  Her dad
Behaviour:  A good girl
Cause of death:  Smashed against a wall

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ turning the pages

I finished Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (2014 fiction set in Georgia) and rated it 9 of 10, an excellent novel.  Like her other novels, this one is mystical and not quite "normal" in what transpires.  I'm at a point where I think I'd rather read "regular" novels, not ones where alligators convey messages to humans about where to find things.  And I'm still reading these nonfiction books:
  • Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity ~ by James D. Tabor, 2012
  • The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image ~ by Leonard Shlain, 1998
That's about it.  Not much to write about today, though I'm sorting through boxes and boxes of stuff, trying to get rid of lots of books and papers before I move.  It's a lot of work.

Bloggers get together in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about reading.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Caturday ~ homeward bound, wherever that is

Mayhem the cat
Did you hear about the cat in North Carolina who went looking for his owners?  They had moved to a busy street about six miles away, giving him to a couple on a nearby farm.  But Mayhem loved his people and wanted to be with them.  Even though he had never been there before, he did find them.  It took him about three weeks to figure out where they had were.  Who says cats aren't loving?