Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cat cam

No! Someone has actually invented a cat cam to follow a cat around all day and see where he goes. This cat's name is Mr. Lee. Here he is wearing his camera around his neck:

Rockin' Girl Bloggers

I’ve been tagged by Dewey as a Rockin’ Girl Blogger, and now I have to tag five more bloggers who rock. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Colleen at Loose Leaf Notes rocks! Not only is she an excellent writer, but also a wonderful photographer. Colleen adopted the last available lion from The Shameless Lions Writing Circle, and I hope to get to know her even better in our new global community.

2. Nancy of Bookfoolery and Babble is another booklover. She photographs so many interesting things that she needs a couple of other blogs to post them all. I love to see where her Poppet goes next as she explores the world. Nancy, you rock!

3. Susan of Patchwork Reflections is a poet, photographer, thinker, writer, grandmother, nature lover. I'm finding more and more to like about her as we email back and forth and comment on each other's blogs. This lady rocks!

4. Lisa of Tales of a Psycho Mamma already knows she rocks because her 2-year-old recently told her, "You rock, dude." I joined Lisa's Something About Me challenge and also read her book blog, so I think I can say, "Rock on, Mamma!"

5. Karen of Verbatim is my final choice for Rockin' Girl Blogger. We both have impossible maiden names, we both like tag-less T-shirts, and her latest book review made me laugh. Karen, you rock, that's for dang-shootin'-sure. (Sorry ... lol.)

Dewey, I think YOU rock, but I can't tag you back. By the way, folks, Dewey gave me a gift: "Louis told me that the video below is Roary’s favorite song." So click on the hippo to hear "The Lion Sings Tonight."

The Lion Sings Tonight

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Something About Me ~ my reading choices

My choices:
1. The Seven Daughters of Eve ~ by Bryan Sykes (Chris)
2. Place Last Seen ~ by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman (Wendy)
3. Einstein's Dreams ~ by Alan Lightman (Raidergirl3)
4. The Memory Keeper's Daughter ~ by Kim Edwards (3M)
5. The Tortilla Curtain ~ by T.C. Boyle (Dewey)
6. Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books ~ by Paul Collins (in memory of Nattie)

7. Luncheon of the Boating Party ~ by Susan Vreeland (3M)
8. A Thousand Splendid Suns ~ by Khaled Hosseini (Diane)
9. The Happy Room ~ by Catherine Palmer (Twiga)
10. The Time Traveler's Wife ~ by Audrey Niffenegger (Dewey)
11. The End of Faith ~ by Sam Harris (Judith)
12. Demon Haunted World ~ by Carl Sagan (Kookiejar)

This challenge lasts five months, August through December, so I chose five books. The sixth book on my list is for Nattie, one she chose to tell us something about herself; but Nattie died young, leaving behind two small children. Cancer took her before the challenge got underway, but some of us are reading books she chose, doing it in memory of Nattie.

If you have read any of these books, please tell me what you thought of them. Thumbs up? Or thumbs down?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Armchair Traveler

Click here for completed challenge and reviews of all books.

I'm joining another challenge, this time one where I'll be traveling while sitting comfortably. This one runs from July 1 through December 31, six months to read six books that fall under the ‘armchair traveling’ theme, fiction or nonfiction as long as the location is an actual place you could visit. Books may be cross-posted to other challenges, but you cannot count any books read prior to July 1st.

My choices:
1. Beneath a Marble Sky ~ by John Shors ~ India
2. Her Fork in the Road: Women Celebrate Food and Travel ~ ed. by Lisa Bach ~ the world
3. Italian Neighbors: or A Lapsed Anglo-Saxon in Verona ~ by Tim Parks ~ Italy
4. Latitudes of Melt ~ by Joan Clark ~ Newfoundland
5. Place Last Seen ~ by Charlotte Freeman ~ Sierra Nevadas
6. Shadows on the Rocks ~ by Willa Cather ~ Quebec

7. Brazzaville Beach ~ by William Boyd ~ Republic of the Congo
8. Secret River ~ by Kate Grenville ~ Australia
9. With Their Backs to the World: Portraits of Serbia ~ by Asne Seierstad ~ Serbia

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor, 2006

Baylor University named Barbara Brown Taylor one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. After ordination in the Episcopal Church, she served as a priest for two decades, and now she teaches religion at Piedmont College and is an adjunct professor of Christian spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary. She is also a writer, having published more than ten books and now serving as editor-at-large and columnist for The Christian Century.

The title of this book may surprise many people who think "leaving church" means walking away from church.  Did she?  Yes, and no.   Yes, she put away her collar, left the church she was serving, and didn't go back.  Not going back is required of clergy in some denominations, like hers (Episcopal) and mine (United Methodist).  We don't go back because people would continue to go to her or me for the pastoral care we had been giving them.  But on the other hand, no, she did not leave God, which is what many think "leaving church" really means.

The book is divided into three parts:  Finding, Losing, and Keeping.  Taylor says the central revelation in her life is "that the call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human" (p. xi).  In this book she explores what that has meant to her "in a world where religion often seems to do more harm than good" (p. xii).  She could see that "human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God" (p. 106).

Taylor addresses the reason I don't usually tell people up front that I am an ordained minister when she says, "If being ordained meant being set apart from them [the people] then I did not want to be ordained anymore.  I wanted to be human" (p. 120).  Many pastors seem to enjoy being considered something special, but Taylor and I both see ourselves as one of the people.  I was especially interested to see that, after leaving her position as pastor of a church, she began to teach religions of the world.  While I was still pastor of my last church, I did the same thing.

This book will give you a look at what being a pastor is all about, the struggles as well as the joys, and "look[ing] at life through the windows of the church" in a context "so tightly focused that even my junk mail was Christian" (p. 168).   I rate the book 9/10, excellent.
An opposing point of view:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

THE CALF-PATH by Sam Walter Foss

This poem appeared in The Writer's Almanac on June 12, but I found it by reading Mary's Library blog. This is the kind of thing I tend to do, thinking about all the creatures who followed the calf who first walked that way; however, I have never said it so well or even thought it so well.

The Calf-Path

One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell–wether sheep
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell–wethers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because 'twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed – do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf,
And though this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed this zigzag calf about
And o'er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way.
And lost one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The new 7 wonders of the world

Have you heard about the NEW seven wonders of the world? The pyramids are the only wonder remaining from the original seven, and now we are invited to vote for a NEW set of seven, HERE. Now let's play a trivia game:
Name any of the 7 wonders of the ancient world
other than the pyramids, of course.

Then come back here and:
Name one of the new 7 wonders you want to win,
and tell us why.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy birthday, son

Today my son turns 44. Since he was born at ten o'clock at night, I have always thought it would be appropriate to call him at exactly 10:00 p.m. to say happy birthday; that seems only fair! Except ... he goes to bed early in order to rise at 4:00 a.m. to go to work. Nah, I couldn't do that to such a sweet boy (yes, he's still my boy), so I called him earlier today and sang the birthday song.

Friday, June 15, 2007

TBR bookstore

On Monday my new book buddy Dewey decided her TBR pile had grown into a mountain. To commemorate the event, she decided the mountain needed a name, chose Charlie (for reasons she explains), and posted a photo of TBR Mountain, Charlie on her site. She ended her post with this challenge: "So! Here’s what I want to know! Would you post a picture of your TBR pile? Pretty please?" Here's my response:

Dewey, this is the best I can do. When we closed our bookstore full of used books, it took four storage units for the boxes. As people came in to trade books, I wanted to put aside this one ... hmm, maybe this one ... oh, definitely THIS one ... to read myself. Obviously, I didn't have time to read 3, 4, 6, 10, 17 books a day, so they went on the shelves. Sometimes customers would actually want to BUY the books I had mentally put on my TBR list ... hmmpf, the nerve of some people ... and just because it was a business I did the unthinkable and SOLD books I had not yet read. This does give you the idea I wasn't cut out to be a REAL bookseller, huh?

When I retired from bookselling, really-really retired, the store full (storeful?) of books left on the shelves went into boxes, which went into storage. That does tend to make it hard to find any one particular book I'm looking for, but I take home a boxful at a time. Unfortunately, the library keeps getting new books, which I keep checking out. I have four library books checked out right now, plus stacks and stacks of books on every flat surface in my apartment. I read, and I read, and I read, and I write, and I read, and I read, and I write.

Okay, so you know I'm 67 and I cannot possibly finish a bookstore's worth of books in my lifetime, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Fortune cookie says .....

My fortune cookie told me:

You will pay for your sins.  
If you have already paid, 
please disregard this message.

(The site no longer exists.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Into the Lion's Den

See this lion? His name is Roary and he wants to be a literary lion. (Click on his photo to see Roary's markings up close. And when you do, notice the "dandy-lions" in the grass over to the right ... lol.) I adopted Roary from The Shameless Lions Writing Circle, created by Seamus Kearney at Shameless Words. Roary is one of the 48 lions that appeared in "The Lions Of Lyon" series on Seamus's blog.

I learned about this writing circle as I was reading Catherine's Still Standing on Her Head blog and immediately wanted to participate. When I went to the site, things looked dire, with nearly all of the lions already adopted. Then I spotted this fine fellow among the few not yet spoken for. Of course I knew straight away that he wanted a home on my blog. I named him Roary because of his deep, magnificent roar. Hey, he's proud of that roar!

Members of the circle have been asked for a piece of writing -- poetry or prose -- to celebrate their adopted lion. Here's mine, which is also on the sidebar.
I am lion, hear me roar
about things too big to ignore
'cause I'm tired of all the governmental lyin';
the whole world is going mad
and my writing's not too bad,
so I want to be a literary lion!

If I have to, I can write anything!
I am strong,
I am invincible,
I am lion!
This was my adoption application: "Please may I have #30, Seamus? I'm sure his name is Roary, and I've already written a 'poem' of sorts in his honor, posted on two of my blogs: Bonnie's Books and Words from a Wordsmith. I know my little ditty is not worthy of such a magnificent lion, but it just seemed appropriate when I studied the 'screaming' faces below his feet and felt the power of his roar. I've been enjoying him since I found him this morning, and I do so hope you'll let me adopt him."

Take a look at those faces below the lion's feet. They each resemble the person in the famous painting "The Scream" by Munch. What do you think? Does Roary need to roar for those 21 faces? Do they need his strength?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Weekend Wordsmith

I'm starting a new blog called Weekend Wordsmith. I will offer a different word each weekend for writers to use in a composition: poetry or prose, serious or humorous, long or short, fiction or nonfiction, whatever you choose. I will also provide a picture with each word. Since I'm a visual person, what I see is often a prompt to write something. Weekend Wordsmith, coming in July! I think I'll start with this:

The Book of Names ~ by Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori

The Book of Names ~ by Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori, 2007

It's a thriller. This book is a lot more about blood and gore and the guy maybe getting the girl at the end than anything else. Oh, I did learn a little bit about the twelve gemstones worn by Aaron, the brother of Moses, which I remember from the Bible. There's information about the Kabbalists that may be interesting to some, though I already knew most of what's in this book. And the writing is good enough to keep me turning the pages.

That's what you want in a book, right? Then it deserves the rating I give it.

Jill Gregory usually writes romance novels, which I admit I haven't read. I am very unlikely to pick up a book like Rough Wrangler, Tender Kisses, published in 2000. I chose to read this one, though, because I was curious about the religious angle and because it was published by St. Martin's Press, an excellent publisher. The names referred to in the title are names of the 36 mentioned in the Talmud:
The world must contain not less than thirty-six righteous people, who are blessed by the Shekhinah (God's presence). ~~~ Rabbi Abbaye
These 36 are being killed off, and catastrophes are increasing all over the world. Bring in the hero, bring in one of the 36, bring in the Dark Angels, mix well and you have this book. Rated 8/10, a very good book.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The android future is here

Philip K. Dick: A Sage of the Future Whose Time Has Finally Come
Brent Staples, Editorial Observer
published in today's NYT

Philip K. Dick was still an obscure pulp novelist known mainly to teenage boys when a friend predicted that he would one day have more impact on the world than celebrated writers like William Faulkner, Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. The prediction seemed almost delusional in the 1960s, when Dick was popping pills around the clock and churning out novels in a science fiction ghetto from which he seemed destined never to escape.

He did get out, but only posthumously. And with his recent celebration as the sage of futurism, and his pervasiveness on bookshelves and in Hollywood, the early predictions about the growth of his influence have come to seem prescient.

Dick was largely unknown to the general public at the time of his death in 1982. Most of his novels and short stories were out of print and seemed destined to stay that way. Things began to change after his favorite and best written novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” was introduced to the country in the form of the now classic movie “Blade Runner.”

The plot deals with enslaved androids — “replicants” — who revolt in an attempt to claim free, human lives. Dick wrote about androids again and again, but generally thought of them as spiritually defective, and hazards to the real humans they were intended to serve.

The film struck a number of chords in the real world. Its vision of the polyglot, environmentally ruined Los Angeles spawned the phrase “Blade Runnerization” among urban planners who recognized it as a frighteningly likely vision of things to come. In recent years, movies based on Dick’s work —“Minority Report,” “A Scanner Darkly,” “Next” — have become a cottage industry in Hollywood. Numerous other projects, including a film based on his life, are said to be in the works.

The movie craze carried over into the book world, where publishers have pushed more than 30 of Dick’s novels and scores of his short stories back into print, this time with book covers and promotional material designed to appeal to mainstream readers. The rehabilitation hit a literary high note earlier this month, when the Library of America issued “Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s,” which placed him in the company of Henry James, Saul Bellow, Faulkner and other heavyweights.

Dick wrote his share of bad novels, which is hardly surprising given that he wrote stoked up on drugs and suffered no end of paranoid delusions. His best books distinguish themselves from ordinary science fiction by focusing not on technology, but on the toll that technological advances often take on human values — and on the soul itself.

Dick died before the onset of the Internet age and never saw a BlackBerry, an iPod or a modern-day cellphone. Even so, the characters he created are routinely shackled and brought low by technological innovations that were ostensibly created to improve human existence. Dick was fully engaged in the science of cybernetics — which supposes a similarity between machine and human functioning — and deeply alarmed about what he saw as the encroachment of programmable machinery into human life.

His writing was shaped by the legitimate worry that human beings were merging with the technology that was supposed to be serving them and becoming less human (which is to say, more machine-like) in the bargain.

Androids in much of science fiction are cast as entertaining house pets. Dick’s androids are sinister and potentially dangerous, because they lack the leavening spark of humanity. By creating them, he writes, we would produce a race of cold and detached beings who would share no more with their makers — or with other androids — than one coffee maker shares with another. Of these machines, he writes “their handshake is the grip of death, and their smile is the coldness of the grave.”

The science fiction writer’s job is to survey the future and report back to the rest of us. Dick took this role seriously. He spent his life writing in ardent defense of the human and warning against the perils that would flow from an uncritical embrace of technology. As his work becomes more popular, readers who know him only from the movies will find it even darker and more disturbing — and quite relevant to the technologically obsessed present.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Hey, my peace globes got world-wide attention on the originator's blog: Mimi Writes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Anansi Boys ~ by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys ~ by Neil Gaiman

I've been meaning to read Gaiman's American Gods, but I put Anansi Boys on reserve after reading Stephanie's great review of the book. She was mostly impressed by the humor, which is lots of fun, but what I liked best was its high regard for songs. This is at the beginning of the book:
"It begins, as most things begin, with a song. In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a tune. That was how the world was made, how the void was divided, how the lands and the stars and the dreams and the little gods and the animals, how all of them came into the world. They were sung."
I like that! Of course everything was SUNG into existence! And singing is really what this book is about, well, songs and spiders. Anansi, one of the most popular characters in West African mythology, is a spider, a storyteller, and a trickster. If you read this book, you'll learn some of Anansi's stories, but be prepared to have your world flipped upside down a time or two. Rated 8/10, a very good book.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Write-Away Contest for June ~ traditions

Michelle at Scribbit is having another Write-Away Contest, and "for this month's Write-Away Contest the topic is traditions." She explains her reasons for choosing traditions as the subject of this contest, gives three rules, and a deadline of midnight June 16. So we have two weeks to write or find something about her chosen subject. The winner will win an award plus the prize moose pictured here.

One person was reminded of Fiddler on the Roof's Tevye singing "Tradition" as he pondered what to do about his daughters. I don't know what I'll write (or find in my older writings), but I want to enter this contest. Are you interested? Click here and go read her post and decide for yourself.