Sunday, June 27, 2010

Celebration of 102 years at my home church

The last service at East Lake United Methodist Church was a celebration, and greeting old friends was a joy.  I plan to write more about it this week, for those who are interested.  For now here are photos of the altar with fresh flowers from the crepe myrtle in my yard between the two lit tapers and the pair of windows next to the pew where my mother seated us children, conveniently located near an exit door in case we acted up during church.  When my brother Jim arrived this morning, he hugged me, reminded me it was exactly two years today that he had liver transplant surgery, and went straight to "our" pew beside these windows.  His family filled most of the pew:  Jim, his wife Carol, their son Jimmy with two of his children (River and Sam), and Carol's father.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kiki Caturday ~ the kiss

Bookfool has Fiona Friday pictures, so I decided to post about Kiki on Cat-urdays (I mean, of course, Saturday is the cat's day).  So here's a photo I don't think I've posted before.  It's Kiki "kissing" me by licking just above my chin.

Above is "the kiss" by Kiki.  Here's "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt.

And here's a story from maybe 2002, give or take a year, that I shared in a comment a couple of years ago:
I had been out of town for 3 or 4 days. I had left plenty of food and water, which works for a cat, who eats what she needs and saves the rest. When I got home and opened the door to the kitchen, Kiki ran past me like crazy through the garage to the driveway, happy to be outside again. But she stopped suddenly, turned around, ran back and "kissed" me by licking my chin. Then she felt free to run out into the glorious sunshine.  You may laugh about cats ignoring you, but Kiki loves me and remembered to welcome me home with a kiss before she went outside to smell the fresh air and play. As I've said before, she is the most loving cat I've ever had. I feel blessed to be loved by Kiki.

~~~ Kiki's best friend, Bonnie

Will it be like homecoming ... or a funeral?

Under METHODIST, UNITED in the list of sermon topics in today's Chattanooga Times Free Press (on page E6) is this announcement about tomorrow morning:
East Lake, 2903 E. 37th St., "Passed Away," 9:30 a.m., the Rev. Bonnie Setliffe Jacobs, guest speaker as the church holds its final service and celebrates its 102-year history.
Church family and friends will gather one last time (at least in this building) for a time of closure and fond memories.  We have folks planning to "come home" from all over, including some from Nashville, Lenoir City, and Knoxville, as well as from churches all over the Chattanooga area.  The Chattanooga District Superintendent will be there, along with several other pastors, active and retired.  It will be like homecoming!  Or a funeral.  But this isn't really the end of the story.  Come tomorrow morning to hear what I think comes next.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Where's your nose?

After sitting for hours like a good girl during her mother's graduation  at the Tivoli this evening, Raegan had fun showing me she could find my nose and my glasses.  Then we went to eat Japanese food and she enjoyed the fried rice with the bits of carrots, but not the green peas!  More pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Attitude is everything!

A woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror,
and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.
'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.'
So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.
'Hmmm,' she said, 'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.'
So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed
that she had only one hair on her head.
'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.'
So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and
noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.
'YAY!' she exclaimed. 'I don't have to fix my hair today!'


NOTE: I don't know who wrote this, but thanks to Karen who emailed it to me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Teaser ~ from the book cover itself

Before you read any further, look back at the cover illustration showing a boy wearing blue and a girl wearing pink.  Say the title out loud, and then come back here.  (I'll wait.)

Okay, someone was having fun when they designed the front cover!  I almost wrote "Blue" as the first word of the title -- because "Pink Brain" is shown in a blue font, and "Blue Brain" uses a pink font.

That was the first "teaser" but I'll give you another one to enjoy, this time from the dust jacket of Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps--and What We Can Do about It by Lise Eliot, 2010.
"By appreciating how sex differences emerge -- rather than assuming them to be fixed biological facts -- we can help all children reach their fullest potential, close the troubling gaps between boys and girls, and ultimately end the gender wars that currently divide us."

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's an allusion!

Resolve the paradox of this poem by identifying the allusion.
by Anonymous

In the garden there strayed
A beautiful maid
As fair as the flowers of the morn;
The first hour of her life
She was made a man's wife,
And was buried before she was born.
Do you recognize the allusion?  Oh, you want me to define allusion?  Okay, an allusion is a reference to a literary work, person, place, or event.  Allusion is a means of suggesting far more than it actually says.  This picture is a visual allusion to another part of the same story.

I ran across my old copy of Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry, Second Edition, by Laurence Perrine, 1963.  My notes in the book show that we discussed this poem in my college English class on March 28, 1966.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's new on my bookshelves

The complete title of this book is rather long, when I include the subtitle:  The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus: The Definitive Collection of Mystical Gospels and Secret Books about Jesus of Nazareth ~ by Marvin Meyer, 2005.  Meyer offers fresh translations of a dozen books, most of which were found at Nag Hammadi in the Egyptian desert in 1945.

My interest in this area started when I read the then-newly published The Gnostic Gospels, a scholarly book by Elaine Pagels (1979) which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award and was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the hundred best books of the twentieth century.  Many years later, I also read her bestseller, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003), in which she says the Gospel of Thomas reveals, along with other apocryphal teachings, that Jesus was not God but rather a teacher who sought to uncover the divine light in all human beings.  She argues that the Gospel of John was written as a reaction and rebuttal to the Gospel of Thomas.

This sort of thing fascinates me, so I developed a class about "Six Gospels," using the four gospels that made it into the Christian Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) along with two of the gospels found at Nag Hammadi:  The Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary (Magdalene).  For later classes, I decided to include a gospel by James, the brother of Jesus.  James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem, which was decidedly on the side of Christians conforming to Jewish customs, like circumcision.  Now I want to read Meyer's new translation and see what I notice this time around.  If you are interested in attending the class when I teach it again, let me know.

Remember when you were a kid and getting new crayons was a big deal?  Getting new books holds the same kind of magic for some of us big kids.  Susan at Color Online came up with the idea of New Crayons as a metaphor for the new books that have arrived at your house.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Redbird Christmas ~ by Fannie Flagg, 2004

Back in 2005, I reviewed A Redbird Christmas for the local giveaway paper.  I was limited to about a hundred words in writing about books each week, so it isn't exactly what I call a book review on this blog.  Here's what was published:
The perfect holiday novel, "A Redbird Christmas" is filled with Fannie Flagg's well-known Southern humor.  Readers will be caught up in Oswald's life and his meeting with Jack, the redbird who lives at the neighborhood grocery store.

But it is Patsy, the crippled girl whose bond with Jack transcends reality, that elevates this book to a league of its own.

If you have ever wondered whether it's better to be an accordion player or an alcoholic, or wondered why so many people love to get in group pictures, you will be laughing out loud at this one.  The book is hard to put down, so save it for when you have time to really enjoy it.
I read the book so fast that I copied only one quote from it (from page 32):
Mildred looked at her, highly incensed.  "And just how am I supposed to know what I want until I get there?  That's why it's called shopping, Frances!"  And with that she marched out the door.
I rate this book 9 of 10 because it was such fun to read and discuss with my book club.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Three books, but which format?

Helen of Helen's Book Blog asked if she's the last one to learn about NetGalley.  Nope, I had never heard of it.  The site says, "Professional readers — reviewers, media, bloggers, journalists, librarians, booksellers and educators — can all use NetGalley for free to read and request galleys they want to review."  The catch is that the ARCs are digital.  In other words, you have to read them on your Kindle or laptop or whatever.  I found three books that may interest me, but I've never tried to read a whole book on my laptop, and I can't afford to buy a Kindle.  Here are the books I've discovered, along with a request that you tell me about your experiences either with NetGalley or with reading e-books.

31 Hours ~ by Masha Hamilton, 2009
Masha Hamilton is one of my favorite authors.  I've read three of her novels:  The Camel Bookmobile, The Distance Between Us, and Staircase of a Thousand Stairs.  But I haven't yet read 31 Hours, her newest novel.  Jonas has a new faith — and a belief that he can change the world.  But he plans to do that with a violent action.  Can those who love him reach him in time?  They have only 31 hours.
The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future ~ by Robert Darnton, 2009
In this one, a Princeton professor who is also director of the Harvard University Library speculates about the future of books.  As a lifelong "bookie," I have worried about what may be in store for real books.  But should I read his opinion on a technological gadget?  Wouldn't that be rather ironic, to read about books on something that isn't exactly a book?  Should I buy a copy I can hold in my hands?
The Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths ~ by Charlotte Gordon, 2009
This is a book about Hagar and Sarah and Abraham, the "love triangle" in the early part of Genesis in the Bible (starting at chapter 12).  Abraham has a son by Hagar, his concubine, then years later another son by Sarah, his wife.  From these two sons come today's three major monotheistic religions:  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  The "woman who named God" of the book's title is Hagar, and I want to read about her.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thirteen Stories ~ by Eudora Welty, 1965

Thirteen Stories by Eudora Welty (1965) didn't exactly walk in the door as a new book this week, but came creeping back into my hands when I brought home the last boxes from a storage unit.  I unloaded books and books and books, and there it was, an old copy with a different cover.  I smiled and immediately turned to page 141 to read "Why I Live at the P.O."  The family's miscommunication is still funny.  Click here to read the complete story.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book arrivals

Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks (1981) includes these chapters:
  • Sexism and the Black Female Slave Experience
  • Continued Devaluation of Black Womanhood
  • The Imperialism of Patriarchy
  • Racism and Feminism: The Issue of Accountability
  • Black Women and Feminism
    The next three books fit the World Religion reading challenge.

    A friend gave me The Visual I Ching: A New Approach to the Ancient Chinese Oracle, with cards and commentary by Oliver Perrottet. The boxed set includes not only the book, but a set of cards and a cloth for laying out the cards. A quick perusal gives me the impression that this system may be more complicated than the usual I Ching that I've seen, but I'm curious and willing to give it a try.  I must say the cards are really beautiful.

    The other two are library books for children, but I have long been interested in the variety of creation stories in the world -- and I know nothing (so far) about Mayan gods and goddesses:

    Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Maya ~ by Leonard Everett Fisher, 1999
    From the dustjacket:  "The Ancient Maya created a remarkable civilization, one known for its skill at astronomy, mathematics, and building.  Their pyramids still dot the landscape of Central America, where they flourished more than a thousand years ago. ... Fisher describes twelve of the most important Maya gods, explaining their powers, their gifts, and their images."
    In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World ~told by Virginia Hamilton and illustrated by Barry Moser, 1988
    Twenty-five creation myths have been collected, and every one has at least one illustration.  The dust jacket gives some examples:  "In an Eskimo myth, for example, the first man pushes his way out of a pea pod.  In a story from the Kono people of Guinea, death starts the world.  A dramatic myth from China tells that the universe was originally in the shape of a hen's egg -- and from this burst the first being."
    We've been hearing warnings since the late 1970s about climate change, and I've heard this book is good.  Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert was published in 2006, and I'm finally getting around to reading it.  At 194 pages, plus notes and index, it's smaller than I expected.  The book looks very reader-friendly and inviting, so maybe it won't take me very long to read through it.

    Remember when you were a kid and getting new crayons was a big deal?  Getting new books holds the same kind of magic for some of us big kids.  Susan at Color Online came up with the idea of New Crayons as a metaphor for the new books that have arrived at your house.

    So what new books have you gotten lately?

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Church closings

    East Lake United Methodist Church

    Last week I learned that East Lake United Methodist Church, where I grew up, will close at the end of this month. When I also found out the current pastor is going on a mission trip and won't be there June 20th and 27th, I volunteered to keep it open those additional two Sundays. I've been calling old friends and lining up people to come on our last Sunday, if not the next two Sundays as well. And then today's mail brought the news that Forrest Avenue United Methodist Church, my first appointment, will also close at the end of this month. I, along with other former pastors and former members, am invited back for the final service -- on June 27th.

    Forrest Avenue United Methodist Church

    I learned a lot in seminary, but not how to be in two places at once!  I was sad to think I'd miss the final service at Forrest Avenue UMC, but I was committed to East Lake UMC.  And then I remembered that they don't meet at the same time.  East Lake's service is now at 9:30 a.m., and Forrest Avenue's is at 11:00 a.m.  They are 25 minutes apart, but both in Chattanooga.  Maybe I can slip in a little late and make it to a second service the same morning.  I'm sure gonna try!

    I took these photos this evening just before the sun disappeared for the day.

    Oprah's ten books

    Yesterday I was flipping through magazines at the doctor's office, waiting to be called back for an echocardiogram.  Even though I had taken along the novel I am currently reading (The Road Taken by Rona Jaffe), the front cover of "O" Magazine (May 2010) promised to tell me Oprah's top ten books.  So I picked up the magazine and got out pen and paper so I could share her list with you.
    1. A New Earth ~ by Eckhart Tolle
    2. The Poisonwood Bible ~ by Barbara Kingsolver
    3. Night ~ by Elie Wiesel
    4. A Fine Balance ~ by Rohinton Mistry
    5. Discover the Power Within You ~ by Eric Butterworth
    6. East of Eden ~ by John Steinbeck
    7. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle ~ by David Wroblewski
    8. The Pillars of the Earth ~ by Ken Follett
    9. The Bluest Eye ~ by Toni Morrison
    10. The Known World ~ by Edward P. Jones
    I have read five (and a half) of these -- just wasn't in the mood to finish Tolle's book and finally gave it away.  I have no desire to "discover the power" within me, maybe because I'm feeling powerful enough.  Three of the novels were powerful -- The Poisonwood Bible, A Fine Balance, and East of Eden -- and have enough going on for great book club discussions.  It probably wouldn't hurt for everyone to know what's in Wiesel's Night trilogy about the Holocaust and Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye about the little black girl who thought she needed blue eyes to be beautiful.

    I plan to read the other three books, all pictured here.  The Known World was the winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the winner of the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and a finalist for the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction.  I've had The Pillars of the Earth on my TBR list for years -- and only its thickness keeps putting me off.  The Story of Edgar Sawtelle sounds interesting, from what I read in this synopsis:
    Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life on his family's farm in remote northern Wisconsin where they raise and train an extraordinary breed of dog. But when tragedy strikes, Edgar is forced to flee into the vast neighboring wilderness, accompanied by only three yearling pups. Struggling for survival, Edgar comes of age in the wild, and must face the choice of leaving forever or revealing the terrible truth behind what has happened. A riveting family saga as well as a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is destined to become a modern classic.
    So tell me, what do you think of these books?  Which ten books would you put on a list of favorites?

    Which way?

    Here's a little preschool quiz for you.  Which way is the bus traveling, to the left or to the right?

    Give up?  Look again, carefully.  Still don't know?  Preschoolers all over the United States were shown this picture and asked the same question.  Ninety percent of them said the bus is traveling to the left.  When asked why they thought that, they answered:  because you can't see the door to get on the bus.  Are you as smart as a preschooler?