Saturday, July 31, 2010

Library volunteer

Here I am behind the desk at the library, sorting some DVDs that have been returned.  Greg, beyond me, manages our South Chattanooga Branch.  The library needs my help for two hours during lunch, between noon and 2:00 p.m., whenever one of the three is off or on vacation.  The idea is to have at least a couple of people available at all times.  During my two hours, one of the regulars has lunch between 12:00 and 1:00 and the other goes to lunch from 1:00 until 2:00 (notice the clock).  Although volunteers can't do everything the regulars do, we help patrons find things and do some of the simpler jobs like shelving books and DVDs.

My days of volunteering may be numbered this fall, since I'll be teaching at Chattanooga State on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Classes start at the end of August, and the semester doesn't end until early in December.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Puns for persons with higher IQs

Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.

Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.

A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.

Dijon vu ~ the same mustard as before.

Practice safe eating ~ always use condiments.

Shotgun wedding ~ a case of wife or death.

A man with a mistress is trying to break the monogamy.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

Dancing cheek to cheek is really a form of floor play.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.

A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.

A will is a dead give away.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

In a democracy your vote counts; in feudalism your count votes.

She was engaged to a man with a wood leg, but broke it off.

A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia ~ the LAN down under.

Every calendar's days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted ~ taint yours and taint mine.

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.

Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

Acupuncture is a jab well done.


(Groan ~ blame Susan for sending me these.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Slow buddy

Thanks, June, for posting A Friend In Need yesterday.  The words:

Friend ~ A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
"To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world."
"It's better to be a slow buddy, than to be no buddy at all."

By the way, in case you are interested, these are leopard tortoises.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I write like ...

I write like
Neil Gaiman
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

When I read about this site on Helen's Book Blog this morning, I thought I'd go ahead and let it analyze my writing.  I had, after all, seen it posted on several blogs.  Not expecting much and totally prepared to be disappointed, I chose my review of Garden Spells because it feels especially like the way I write.  Leaving out the two quotes from the book, I pasted it into the box that analyzes writing.  Wow, it says I write like Neil Gaiman!

Having analyzed the apple tree post, I tried a more recent one -- about a book I didn't like.  Now I write like Stephen King!  Okay, how about this post about Dance of the Dissident Daughter, one of my favorite books?  Now I write like Dan Brown.  Another review, another disliked book (leaving out the quote), and the analyzer tells me again that I write like Stephen King.  (I tried it again, leaving the quote in place, and I'm still a Stephen King write-alike.)  Using a long paragraph I wrote four years ago, I discovered I write like James Joyce.  However, using all of that same review, I'm told I write like Edgar Allan Poe.

My own analysis indicates:
  • If I have fun writing a review, I write like Neil Gaiman,
  • If I don't like a book, my reviews sound like Stephen King.
  • Otherwise, I write like Dan Brown, James Joyce, or Edgar Allan Poe, maybe all rolled into one.
    For my last experiment, I decided to plug in quotes from these writers and see if they sound like themselves.  I used admittedly rather short selections, which you can see at the bottom of this post:
    1. Neil Gaiman writes like Rudyard Kipling (or Dan Brown or Cory Doctorow, when I plug in different quotes)
    2. Stephen King writes like Margaret Atwood
    3. Dan Brown writes like Dan Brown (this must be significant)
    4. James Joyce writes like Arthur Conan Doyle
    5. Edgar Allan Poe writes like H. P. Lovecraft (using only the last verse, Poe writes like Charles Dickens)
    Very interesting, especially that last one.  I plugged in Poe's whole poem about "The Raven," which is arguably one of the most famous things he ever wrote.  And Poe comes out sounding like H. P. Lovecraft?  Aw, come on!  In *MY* final analysis, I think that I, along with these particular famous writers, all use English words; therefore, we write like each other!

    Just for curiosity's sake, try it yourself:  I Write Like.

    QUOTES used above

    1.  Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys (quoted in my review):  "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."

    2.  Stephen King, Different Seasons:  "I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."

    3.  Dan Brown, Angels and Demons:  "Whether or not you believe in God, you must believe this: when we as a species abandon our trust in a power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faiths … all faiths … are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable. With faith we are accountable to each other, to ourselves, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed. The church consists of a brotherhood of imperfect, simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world spinning out of control."

    4.  James Joyce:  “I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality.”

    5.  Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven":
    "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
    Only this, and nothing more."

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
    And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —
    For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
    Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
    Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
    Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door —
    Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; —
    This it is, and nothing more."

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
    Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
    That I scarce was sure I heard you"— here I opened wide the door; —
    Darkness there, and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
    Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
    This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" —
    Merely this, and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
    Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
    Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore —
    Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; —
    'Tis the wind and nothing more."

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
    In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —
    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —
    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
    Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
    Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore —
    Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

    Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
    Though its answer little meaning— little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door —
    Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
    With such name as "Nevermore."

    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    Wildwood ~ by Drusilla Campbell, 2003

    Three little girls kept a secret that still haunts their lives as they near menopause.  Hannah, age 12, was waiting for her friends Jeanne and Liz out by Bluegang Creek when 15-year-old Billy showed up.  When his sexual advances frightened her, Hannah pushed him away.  He fell, hitting his head on some rocks, and died.  Her friends heard Hannah scream and saw Billy's body when they came running, but what should they do now?  Liz wanted to tell an adult, but Jeanne and Hannah talked her out of it.

    Decades later, as they approach menopause, Liz comes back from Belize to have an abortion, but mostly to talk to the two friends who are like family to her.  Liz has lived all over the world (running away, maybe?), but Hannah and Jeanne still live in their hometown.  Who are these women now?  Liz is a translator and runs from commitment, Hannah is a mother of teens but wants to adopt a crack baby, and Jeanne runs an elite school with her husband who is a womanizer.  Liz tries to discuss what the other two want to keep buried (literally), and it becomes obvious they have all been negatively affected by their secret.  But will Liz's attempts to talk about it ruin their lifelong friendship?

    I read Wildwood, a 2003 novel by Drusilla Campbell, in less than a day because it really grabbed me.  Rated:  10 of 10, because I couldn't put down.

    Later, when I picked up the nonfiction book I've been reading for several days, I immediately came across something that could have been written about Wildwood:
    "By weathering major life shifts and learning how to thrive in evolving professional and personal situations, this generation [born 1945-1955] redefined middle age as a time of continued growth and transition.  Women of all ages have now come to accept transition and personal change as integral parts of life."
    That quote is from page 88 of The Women who Broke All the Rules: How the Choices of a Generation Changed Our Lives by Susan B. Evans and Joan P. Avis, 1999.  I considered segueing into a second book review, right here in the middle of this post, but I'll restrain myself and write this one later.

    Teaser ~ Multiple Choice

    Today's teaser if from Multiple Choice by Claire Cook (2004), page 204.  Yep, it's from near the end, but I promise you that it's no spoiler.  Just something that I'm pondering about what it's like to raise children, especially when you are still dealing with their teen years and can't (yet) see the wonderful adults they become.

    "Mom, don't you have homework or something?  I'll watch the brownies."

    So I let him take over my brownies and went off to do my homework.  The hardest part about bringing up your kids to be strong and independent was that then you had to let them be.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Kiki ~ eating outta my hand

    I may have to rethink this Kiki Caturday thing.  Nancy's Fiona is still a kitten, very active and into everything.  Kiki is ten years old and settled.  Dangle an enticing "mouse" in front of her, and she'll raise her eyes from the stuffed animal up along the string, as if to say, "You think I don't know mice don't bounce around on strings?"

    So today I had to get innovative.  Kiki was asleep on the bed -- see the quilt?  Playing with words, as I always do, I wanted to have her eating outta my hand.  That's it!  But I had to take four pictures with my cellphone camera before I got one that wasn't a blur.  Worse, now she thinks her "treats" should come to her!  Would this "mouse" fool you?

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Fresh arrivals ~ they keep coming!

    This one is at the top because I'm not apt to actually read all the way through it and because I won't likely review the parts I do read.  Donna (my BFF) and I went to the used book store today to get books on Excel (spreadsheets she needs for her teaching) and PowerPoint (for the writing classes I'll teach this fall).  We found one chunkster of a book that included both, but this Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies was three years newer (2006).  So we bought separate books, which we'll share.  It's my first book "for Dummies," since I don't actually consider myself a dummy.

    This YA novel is also from the used book store.  I've read Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh books and jumped on this YA novel when I saw it in the free bin for all the rejects.  Yes, "free" is the best price of all for used books!  And I've already started reading about 13-year-old Chrissa, whose sullen anger (my choice of words) is causing lots of friction between her and her mother.  Naylor's Ice was published in 1995, but seems current to me.  I remember when one of my kids went through some sullen years.

    One more used book from today's shopping trip -- Ladies First by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is a National Geographic book published in 2006.  While I was looking at used books, I found this one for the Women Unbound reading challenge.  (Have you noticed I've gone far, far beyond the minimum -- or even the maximum -- suggested by the three co-founders of this challenge?)  Anyway, there are some interesting "ladies" among these "40 Daring American Women Who Were Second to None":  Phillis Wheatley (first African American woman writer to be published), Wilma Mankiller (first woman to become Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation), Elizabeth Blackwell (first American woman to graduate from medical school), Dian Fossey (first woman zoologist to study mountain gorillas in their habitat), and Sally Priesand (first American woman to be ordained as a rabbi), for example.

    Sheila at Book Journey turned me on to Seven Year Switch by Clair Cook, but until that gets processed into the system at my library, I have checked out another book by this author.  Multiple Choice (2004) is about a mother and daughter going to college at the same time.  It's supposed to be "hilarious," not what I usually look for in a book, but it sounds good to me at the moment.  Especially as I look forward to going back to college -- as a teacher of Developmental Writing.  We shall see.

    Also from the library today was this book that I ran across while looking for something else (online book stores are good at suggesting titles that are nowhere close to what you searched for).  Wildwood by Drusilla Campbell (2003) is about "three friends, three lives, and one secret" from thirty years ago, when their innocence was shattered forever.  This is another book that seems perfect for the Women Unbound reading challenge.  (So do Ice and Multiple Choice, for that matter.)

    And the final new book for today is Scout, Atticus, and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy (2010).  I told Donna about this celebration of fifty years of To Kill a Mockingbird, Donna's favorite book, that came out last month.  She has already bought and read the book and handed it to me to read this morning!

    What books have you gotten "new" lately?

    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.

    Backup your blog

    Susan of Patchwork Reflections sent an email to friends, asking us, "Has anyone tried to back up their blog?  I have researched several ways to do it, but have not gotten around to it yet... Any advice or experience shared would be great!"

    I replied, "No, but now I'm curious.  Will you share whatever you find out?  I'd be ever so grateful."

    She responded to me, "You have so much info online, it would be bad if blogger had a hiccup and lost it all, but maybe I am being paranoid?  It sounds like there are several options out there, once I get them all together will certainly let you know."

    She's right!  I have more than one blog, thus lots and lots of stuff posted.  I'd hate to lose it all.

    This morning Susan posted the answer(s) on her blog as "the backup plan."  You should go read it.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Mini-reviews of recent books

    Helen of Helen's Book Blog asked which of the books I mentioned in last week's Adult Summer Reading Program post were my favorites (from the list of thirteen, that is).  Here are the six I chose and why:

    All three of the nonfiction books:

    I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced ~ by Nujood Ali, 2010
    Yes, this one is unfortunately a true story, written by a brave little girl (with the help of Delphine Minoui).  Nujood had the courage to show up in a court of law to find out how she could divorce the man her father had -- I'm looking for a good word here, since she was too young to understand marriage -- let's say her father sold her to the old man, who promised to wait, but didn't.  She got out of the terrible situation, as you can see by the title.  In the Epilogue, Delphine Minoui wrote:  "On November 10, 2008, in New York City, the youngest divorcee in the world has just been named a Woman of the Year by Glamour.  With all the gravitas of her ten years, she shares this unexpected honor with the film star Nicole Kidman, the American secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, and Senator Hillary Clinton, among others" (p. 169).  Rated:  8 of 10.
    Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change ~ by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2006
    "I talked to an Inuit hunter named John Keogak, who lives on Bank Island, in Canada's Northwest Territories, some five hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle.  He told me that he and his fellow hunters had started to notice that the climate was changing in the mid-eighties.  Then, a few years ago, for the first time, people began to see robins, a bird for which the Inuit in his region have no word" (p. 64).

    In Iceland:  "A raw wind came up, and I started to head down.  Then I thought about what Sigurdsson had told me.  If I returned in another decade, the glacier would probably no longer be visible from the ridge where I was standing.  So I climbed back up to take another look" (p. 66).  Rated:  9 of 10.

    The Gnostic Gospels ~ by Elaine Pagels, 1979
    I read this one in 1979 or 1980, shortly after it was published.  And I've already reviewed it.  Rated: 10 of 10, even on this re-read.
    The fiction I think I'll remember:

    Summer's End ~ by Audrey Couloumbis, 2005
    The one YA book on this list is the best book I've ever read about the draft during the Vietnam War and how the young men (boys, really, unable to vote) felt about fleeing to Canada or dying without being able to vote on the issue.  My library's summary:  "Three teenaged cousins worry about their uncle who is missing in Vietnam, their brothers -- the one who was drafted and the two who are dodging the draft, and the effects of their absence on the four generations gathered at the family farm in the summer of 1965."  Rated:  8 of 10.
    Look Again ~ by Lisa Scottoline, 2009
    The beginning of chapter one:  "Ellen Gleeson was unlocking her front door when something in the mail caught her attention. It was a white card with photos of missing children, and one of the little boys looked oddly like her son."  How would that make you feel, especially if your child was adopted?  My favorite quote from the book, which I read straight through, like a thriller, turns the question around as the character considers the woman her father had married:

    "She had come to love Barbara, who wisely hadn't tried to replace her mother, because no one could.  But somewhere along the line, she had opened her mind to the possibility that if you could love a child no matter how he came to you, then you could also love a mother, no matter how she came to you" (p. 371).

    From an author interview:  "...the novel really raises the question:  Who does this child ultimately belong to?  Is it either parent?  Or is it actually, in the end, the child himself?"  Rated: 9 of 10.
    Every Last One ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2010
    Every Last One is already slipping from memory, unlike Quindlen's One True Thing, which I think is excellent.  The one long quote I copied from this book is also a spoiler, so I can't share the whole thing.  But (as a teaser) I'll give you the last sentence of that quote:  "Every last one," says a different voice (p. 155).  And that's where the title comes from.  Rated:  8 of 10.

    And now for the rest of 'em:

    The Cougar Club ~ by Susan McBride, 2010
    The Cougar Club is pure fluff, and I only finished it because I won it during Dewey's Read-a-Thon, paired with another book (which was worth winning). I even debated whether I wanted to include it on my list of Summer Reading that the librarians would see!  Not my kind of book.  Do you know what a "cougar" is?  I didn't know it's a woman who dates (or more exactly, sleeps with) a much younger man.  No review because it would be such a pitiful report.  Rated:  "nah."
    The Smoke Jumper ~ by Nicholas Evans, 2001
    I mostly enjoyed The Smoke Jumper while reading it, but it's forgettable.  An average kind of story, maybe a beach read.  It's for folks who like action, as in jumping out of planes into the middle of a forest fire.  I can't really get excited enough to tell you more than that.  Rated:  "nah."
    Shanghai Girls ~ by Lisa See, 2009
    Shanghai Girls is pretty good, but I liked Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan more. I took notes because I read this book with both my face-to-face book club and with my online Book Buddies (click that link for more), but not a lot of notes. I learned about Angel Island, the West coast equivalent of Ellis Island in New York. Rated: 7 of 10.
    The Road Taken ~ by Rona Jaffe, 2000
    I really liked The Road Taken while reading it, but I'd be hard pressed (already) to tell you much about the book.  In the very last sentence, Rose thinks:  "She wanted to tell them about her rich and vivid and vanished world before it was too late, before she was gone, before it was all forgotten" (p. 388).  Oops!  I've already forgotten nearly everything I read about Rose's world, which pretty much covered the whole twentieth century.  The best of the quotes I wrote out comes from when Rose was ten years old:  "God killed her.  In order to 'take' her he had to kill her.  I'm not so stupid as not to know that.  Of course she could never tell anyone how she felt; you were supposed to love God, even when he killed your mother" (p. 4).  Rated:  7 of 10.

    Two Rivers ~ by T. Greenwood, 2009
    Same with Two Rivers, which I thought was great as I was reading it, but now I have forgotten details.  A train derails into a river; a girl named Marguerite shows up, presumably from the train wreck.  She's taken in by the main character, who works for the railroad.  The book is easy to read, and I finished thinking the "two rivers" were a metaphor for two strands in the book.  I wrote a teaser about Shelly's essay on Lincoln.  Here she is again:  "Shelly set her utensils down, pressed her palms together, and closed her eyes.  'Father, bless the food we take, and bless us all for Jesus' sake. Amen.' ... Marguerite leaned over to her and said, 'At my house we say, 'For bacon, eggs and buttered toast, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost'" (p. 56).  Rated:  7 of 10.
    The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ ~ by Philip Pullman, 2010
    This one has a premise that is unforgettable -- that Jesus had a twin, nicknamed Christ, who wrote down the things Jesus said. But the story wasn't all that good.  I'll share a quote, where Jesus is praying:
    "'Lord, if I thought you were listening, I'd pray for this above all:  that any church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest.  That it should wield no authority except that of love.  That it should never cast anyone out.  That it should own no property and make no laws.  That it should not condemn, but only forgive" (p. 199).
    Interesting idea, but boring presentation.  Rated:  "nah."
    Daughter of God ~ by Lewis Perdue, 2000
    Oops!  Daughter of God was so forgettable that it didn't even make the list (in my response to Helen's question).  Thrillers do that to me.  They are interesting while I'm reading, but don't really make me think.  From the dustjacket:  "The Vatican has lost its most closely held secret -- a secret whose exposure could shatter the very foundations of Western religion..."  Blah-blah-blah.  The secret is "proof of a female Messiah named Sophia."  It sounds like something I'd remember, huh?  But this is no challenge to the Da Vinci Code.  Rated:  "nah."
    When I realized this "report" to Helen was like a bunch of mini-reviews, I decided to post them that way, as mini-reviews.  Hope you like this way of covering a baker's dozen I've read recently.

    Saturday, July 17, 2010

    Sammy Cat Saturday ~ another catnapper

    Tuesday I had lunch with my friend Donna and couldn't help noticing her cat Sammy was napping on the edge of a throw that says "Cats are angels with fur."  She was onto me, however, when she heard the click for the first photo (above), so below you'll see that, two minutes later, she is still keeping an eye on me the way Kiki did last week (click link for Kiki's version).

    Kiki Caturday ~ Kiki and the baby bird

    When Kiki suddenly scampered to her perch to stare intently out the window, I followed, turning on my cellphone camera.  Yep, it was a baby bird, which you can barely see on the windowsill, outside the screen.  (You have to look closely, maybe even click to enlarge the photo, to see the bird's yellow beek facing Kiki.  Obviously, it doesn't see the cat.)  See her watching the baby birds intently, last week.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Euclid's Window ~ my latest acquisition

    In Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace (2001), Leonard Mlodinow says there have been five revolutions, centered around five people:
    The Story of Euclid
    The Story of Descartes
    The Story of Gauss
    The Story of Einstein
    The Story of Witten
    And he tells stories about lots of other things, like the geometry of taxation, the origin of latitude and longitude, the curved space revolution, relativity's other Albert, the weird revolution.  Just before the epilogue, he closes with "The Theory Formerly Known as Strings."  What?  I'm just beginning to get string theory, and he's changing everything?  What I've read so far, as I said above, is fascinating.  I'll try really hard to get around to a review of this one when I finish reading 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.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    My newest books

    I dropped by the library today, and the librarian who helps me find books for the Women Unbound reading challenge gave me one of her own books she had just finished:  Red Azalea (1994), Anchee Min’s celebrated memoir of growing up in the last years of Mao’s China.  The online synopsis says:
    "As a child, she was asked to publicly humiliate a teacher; at seventeen, she was sent to work at a labor collective. Forbidden to speak, dress, read, write, or love as she pleased, she found a lifeline in a secret love affair with another woman. Miraculously selected for the film version of one of Madame Mao’s political operas, Min’s life changed overnight. Then Chairman Mao suddenly died, taking with him an entire world."
    I've read several books by John Shelby Spong, but not this one.  I ran across Liberating the Gospels (1996) when I was at the bookstore with my friend Donna the other day.  The subtitle is "Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes."  Since I'm working on the course I'll be teaching on "Seven Gospels," I figured it was right up my alley.  Spong says the Gospels are thoroughly Jewish texts.  The online synopsis says:
    "Spong powerfully argues that many of the key Gospel accounts of events in the life of Jesus—from the stories of his birth to his physical resurrection—are not literally true. He offers convincing evidence that the Gospels are a collection of Jewish midrashic stories written to convey the significance of Jesus."
    I've already told you I'm reading Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (2009).  This book is one Donna bought new and decided to let me read first.  She knows how impressed I am by this author's writing.

    I finished Summer's End by Audrey Couloumbis (2005) within hours of Donna's lending it to me.  Yep, I told you I'd read this one, but I plan a short review soon.  (Oh, so many reviews I mean to write!)
    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.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Wintergirls ~ a teaser

    I love the way Laurie Halse Anderson puts words together, so I am delighted to share these teasers from Wintergirls (2009).
    "When school started, she looked right through me in the halls, her new friends draped around her neck like Mardi Gras necklaces.  She wiped me off the face of her existence" (p. 11).

    "Cassie's at the morgue, I guess.  Last night she slept there in a silver drawer, eyes getting used to the dark" (p. 15).

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Adult Summer Reading Program

    My library has an Adult Summer Reading program for the first time this year.  I joined, as did several of the librarians.  The goal is to read at least three books between May and August.  I joked with the librarians, who all know me, that the program may get me to start reading.  Ha!  I'm a member of Bookaholics Anonymous.  Yes, there's really an online blog by that name, and I joined a few years ago, though I've lost the URL because I don't really want to overcome my addiction to books.  Anyway, I think I'll turn in my Log Book tomorrow because I don't have room to add any more books.  Here are the "three books" I've listed:
    1. Look Again ~ by Lisa Scottoline (F)
    2. I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced ~ by Nujood Ali (NF)
    3. The Smoke Jumper ~ by Nicholas Evans (F)
    4. Shanghai Girls ~ by Lisa See (F)
    5. Every Last One ~ by Anna Quindlen (F)
    6. The Road Taken ~ by Rona Jaffe (F)
    7. Daughter of God ~ by Lewis Perdue (F)
    8. Field Notes from a Catastrophe ~ by Elizabeth Kolbert (NF)
    9. The Good Man Jesus & the Scoundrel Christ ~ by Philip Pullman (F)
    10. Two Rivers ~ by T. Greenwood (F)
    11. The Cougar Club ~ by Susan McBride (F)
    12. The Gnostic Gospels ~ by Elaine Pagels (NF)
    13. Summer's End ~ by Audrey Couloumbis (YA)

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Kiki Caturday ~ the catnap

    Only a cat can take a nap and keep an eye on me at the same time.  A half-open eye must be the epitome of a catnap.  Hmm, I see that my mother seems to be keeping an eye on both Kiki and me.  On the shelf behind Kiki is my favorite photo of Mom, who died in 2004.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    Today's teaser ~ Two Rivers

    Because I already knew I would be teaching Developmental Writing at Chattanooga State this fall, I laughed when I read what Shelly's dad thought about the essay she wrote on Abraham Lincoln for school:
    "I picked it up and opened it, reading the first few sentences and then scanning the rest.  It was riddled with spelling errors.  None of the paragraphs were indented.  There were no topic sentences.  No thesis.  What on earth were they teaching her at school?"
    This is from Two Rivers, a novel by T. Greenwood, 2009.

    Writing First ~ an annotated textbook

    Here's the newest book at my house.  (Well, to be honest, it hasn't arrived yet because I'm posting this using the college's wi-fi.)  I usually teach Religions of the World, but agreed to teach two sections of Developmental Writing at Chattanooga State this fall.  I have an undergraduate degree in English and have taught remedial writing before, so I now have a 16-page syllabus and a 711-page textbook.  The catalog course description says:
    "Continued study and application to achieve writing skills needed for college; student will write unified, coherent paragraphs and essays in acceptable, standard form; will also produce a research essay."
    Writing First: Practice in Context by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, 4th edition (2009), is supposed to help students master basic writing skills.  With my guidance, of course.  The class starts at the end of August, but my planning and studying starts now -- with the instructor's annotated edition of this book.  Guess what I'll be reading tonight.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Go-getter or pushy?

    Found here: On Negotiating Pay.  Go read the comments!

    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    Full circle

    This morning my church life came full circle.  Though pastors in the United Methodist Church have our membership in the conference rather than in a church, nevertheless we must designate a local church as our charge conference.  I chose East Lake UMC, where I grew up.  I went there after retirement because I wanted to move my mother's membership back "home" where she also grew up.  By that time, she was in a nursing home, but it made no sense to leave her membership at my last church appointment.  So I moved us both back to East Lake Church.  Mother's membership ended in November 2004, when she died.  Mine ended last week, when I preached the final sermon and the congregation was no more.  (Thanks to John Shearer for this photo of worshipers before the last service at East Lake.)

    The congregation at Forrest Avenue UMC also had their last service on June 27th and closed their doors.  It was my first church appointment, and I served as their pastor from 1987 to 1991.  Last Sunday, I managed to get from East Lake's 9:30 service, after a short visit with friends, across town to North Chattanooga just as their last service started.  The whole day was bittersweet for me, with my childhood church closing on the same day as the first church I pastored after seminary.

    I now live in St. Elmo, in the same block as the St. Elmo UMC.  They are meeting at the Lookout Mountain Church because they lost their building in a fire last summer and the church on the mountain had lost their pastor.  It's a good match, for now.  I went down front during the closing hymn at this morning's service, and the Rev. Mark Dowell announced that I was moving my membership.  Lots of people shook my hand and welcomed me to their congregation, but one surprised me when he said, "Nobody even mentioned that we have your piano."

    My piano?  It's at home.  But no, he meant the grand piano (or is it a baby grand?) that Scott Medley played for today's service.  This week, the piano was moved from Forrest Avenue UMC to the Lookout Mountain Church.  Full circle!  The Rev. Carol Wilson, who preached the last sermon at Forrest Avenue, and I, who preached the last one at East Lake, told the people that the church doesn't end when a particular congregation does.  Rather, our influence goes on, as we take the spirit of love into the community and into other congregations we attend.

    Little did I know that the music would continue in this way, with Forrest Avenue's piano leading the service in my new church!

    John Shearer wrote about last week's church closings for  Two Local United Methodist Churches Hold Final Services.  Clint Cooper wrote about the closings for the Times Free Press:  United Methodists discontinue Forrest Avenue, East Lake churches. To read all I've written about these churches, click here.