Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let the dry land appear

As the waters recede, the weeds of the field re-appear.  The grass where I'm standing was underwater yesterday.

That tall weed in the center was totally underwater.  In Monday's first photo, it was not yet completely covered.

This hillside was about half under the water.  I'm still waiting for the rainbow after the flood, but first we need the help of a little sunshine.

Library Loot ~ November 30 - December 6

Children and Fire ~ by Ursula Hegi, 2011, fiction (Germany)
Set in Burgdorf, Germany, the fictitious village in which her bestselling novels Stones from the River and The Vision of Emma Blau took place, Children and Fire tells the story of one day in 1934 that will forever transform the lives of the townspeople.
The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus ~ by Amy-Jill Levine, 2006, religion
Country Western singer Kinky Friedman often performs a song entitled "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore," and New Testament professor Amy--Jill Levine would agree. In fact, her career is dedicated to helping Christians and Jews understand the Jewishness of Jesus, thereby deepening the understanding of him, and facilitating greater interfaith dialogue.
Zora and Me ~ by Victoria Bone and T. R. Simon, 2010, middle grades (Florida)
A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston's childhood with her best friend, Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the difference between truth, lies, and pretending.  Includes a timeline of Hurston's life and an annotated bibliography.
Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women ~ by Carolyn Custis James, 2010, women's studies
Women comprise at least half the world, and usually more than half the church, but so often Christian teaching to women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles or assumes a particular economic situation or stage of life.
Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  If you would like to share a list of the loot you brought home from the library, Marg has the Mister Linky this week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heron outside my window

The heron saw me coming and flew away. She was standing outside my bedroom window, maybe 3-4 feet tall, looking forlorn.  Did she lose her home to the flood?  (Click photo to enlarge it.)

In seconds, she was a white dot in the distance.  I hope she comes back today.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Staying inside today, to read

I think this is reason enough to snuggle under a quilt and read. We've had lots of rain -- can you tell? The creek is way over yonder beyond the tree line, and the water closer to me is usually a low-lying field.

View from my bedroom window.  And it's still raining.

View to the left, from our apartment building.

View to the right, with the bird feeder outside Donna's bedroom window.

Taken from directly outside my bedroom window. It's actually about eight to ten feet down to today's water level.  The rain is supposed to change to snow tonight, but "no significant accumulations."

This shows how far above the water we are, so I don't think we'll get wet.  But it's a lot of water!

Donna came out to take photos, too.  That's her bedroom window on the right, with my room behind the large bush, where the building juts out.  When I was at the mailboxes this afternoon, I ran into one of the staff members here, who made me laugh when she said, "You have lakefront housing without having to pay lakefront prices."  Of course, it's also our own little (temporary) lake.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Books and food ~ Sunday Salon

This seems like a good time to write my very first Sunday Salon post.
Salon — noun, a room in a large house in which guests are received.
This week, let's imagine ourselves in this Grand Salon, where each of my guests from cyberspace may choose a seat to her (or his) liking and get comfortable.  Let's talk about books, shall we?  And also about what's happening in our lives.  When it isn't serving as my cyberspace hangout, this room has a real location:
A lovely salon awaits guests at Château de Vaulogé, complete with comfortable leather seating, fine art work, and a collection of books for reading — in a setting filled with daylight yet warmly decorated to provide a cozy retreat. This salon is perfect for relaxing or joining in conversation with your bookie companions.  (Yes, I slightly altered the wording I found with the photo.)
First, our books

I did finish reading Jane's book (Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt) before falling asleep last night and, now that I'm back home, I need to get to these library books so I can clear my shelves.  Fourteen books checked out?  Oh, my goodness!
Due Date ...... Title
11/28 ... Coming Up for Air (finished, ready to return)
11/29 ... Wife of the Gods (could renew, but 310 pages)
11/29 ... The Sandalwood Tree (could renew, but 360 pages)
12/3 ... My Petition for More Space (not in the right mood)
12/7 ... Dangerous Neighbors (yes...)
12/7 ... Ghosts in the Garden (yes...)
12/7 ... Into the Tangle of Friendship (yes...)
12/7 ... Seeing Past Z (yes...)
12/7 ... Still Love in Strange Places ( these 5 by Kephart)
12/12 ... The Devil Amongst the Lawyers (not in the right mood)
12/12 ... The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (yes, still)
12/19 ... Identical Strangers  (yes...)
12/19 ... My Sister's Voice ( both of these books about twins)
12/21 ... Zora and Me (yes, just got it)
I really want to get back to Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World that I got last week.  And while I was house sitting for Jane, two more books arrived — the two chick lit books by Starr Ambrose I won during the Readathon from Lisa @ World of BooksLie to Me (2008) and Thieves Like Us (2010).

What's happening?

Lunch at Ichiban "happened" for me and my friend Donna.  Watching the chef prepare Japanese food is always a happy showtime, especially with an appreciative 2-year-old girl sitting near me.  The chef asked if fire would bother the child before lighting the fire, and in the other photo his hands are moving so fast they're a blur.  That's my delicious hibachi salmon in the middle.

If the grand salon pictured above didn't have enough books in it for us bookies, how about sitting together in this room?  Which would you prefer?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Babe, watching for Jane ~ on Caturday

Less than 60 seconds after I took this photo of Babe watching for Jane to come home, the car turned into the driveway.  Jane's home, and so am I, along with Jane's book that I almost finished (14 pages left).  Going to bed now, to read.  Hopefully, all 14 pages.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Beginning ~ with a lost tooth

Making Toast: A Family Story ~ by Roger Rosenblatt, 2010, memoir (Maryland)
The trick when foraging for a tooth lost in coffee grounds is not to be misled by the clumps.
His granddaughter lost a tooth, which he had wrapped in a napkin for safekeeping.  You see what's going to happen, don't you?  It did, so now he and his wife have been searching through the kitchen trash can for twenty minutes.  My friend Jane left this book out for me to read while I'm staying at her house.  I glanced at the first page and didn't stop until page eight.  I think it will be good, in spite of the sad events that led up to the grandparents being there in the first place.
When Roger's daughter, Amy — a gifted doctor, mother, and wife — collapses and dies from an asymptomatic heart condition at age thirty-eight, Roger and his wife, Ginny, leave their home on the South Shore of Long Island to move in with their son-in-law, Harris, and their three young grandchildren:  six-year-old Jessica, four-year-old Sammy, and one-year-old James, known as Bubbies.

Long past the years of diapers, homework, and recitals, Roger and Ginny — Boppo and Mimi to the kids — quickly reaccustom themselves to the world of small children:  bedtime stories, talking toys, play-dates, nonstop questions, and nonsequential thought.

Though reeling from Amy's death, they carry on, reconstructing a family, sustaining one another, and guiding three lively, alert, and tenderhearted children through the pains and confusions of grief.  As he marvels at the strength of his son-in-law and the tenacity and skill of his wife, a former kindergarten teacher, Roger attends each day to "the one household duty I have mastered" — preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking.
Would the first few lines of your book make you want to read on?  If you want to share the first lines of a book you are reading, click on the link and visit Katy at A Few More Pages.  Browse there to find interesting books for your own reading list.  And don’t forget that Katy and all the contributors to this meme (including me) love comments.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

At my Thanksgiving table

Wouldn't it be great to have, say, a dozen of my favorite authors around my Thanksgiving table?  Even better, I'd love to have them visit one at a time, so I could have a real conversation with each one.  On this Thanksgiving Day, these are the twelve I'm thankful for — in alphabetical order.

Barbara Cooney
(August 6, 1917 – March 10, 2000)

(November 29, 1918 – September 6, 2007)

As you can tell by the dates under their names, I won't get to sit down with Barbara Cooney and Madeleine L'Engle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Library Loot ~ November 23-29

My Sister's Voice ~ by Mary Carter, 2010, fiction (Pennsylvania)
At twenty-eight, Lacey Gears is exactly where she wants to be.  An up-and-coming, proudly deaf artist in Philadelphia, she's in a relationship with a wonderful man and rarely thinks about her difficult childhood in a home for disabled orphans.   That is, until Lacey receives a letter that begins, "You have a sister.  A twin to be exact..."  Learning that her identical, hearing twin, Monica, experienced the normal childhood she was denied resurrects all of Lacey's grief, and she angrily sets out to find Monica and her biological parents.  But the truth about Monica's life, their brief shared past, and the reason for the twins' separation is far from simple.  (Author's web site and post by author.)
Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited ~ by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, 2008, memoir
Elyse Schein had always known she was adopted, but it wasn’t until her mid-thirties while living in Paris that she searched for her biological mother. When Elyse contacted her adoption agency, she was not prepared for the shocking, life-changing news she received: She had an identical twin sister. Elyse was then hit with another bombshell: she and her sister had been separated as infants, and for a time, had been part of a secret study on separated twins.

Paula Bernstein, a married writer and mother living in New York, also knew she was adopted, but had no inclination to find her birth mother. When she answered a call from the adoption agency one spring afternoon, Paula’s life suddenly divided into two starkly different periods: the time before and the time after she learned the truth.  (Book trailer.)
Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  Claire has the Mister Linky this week, if you'd like to share a list of the loot you brought home.  You may submit your list any time during the week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The artist's cat's toy

I was in the computer room where I'm house sitting, having hooked up my laptop to my friend's internet, when I noticed the cat had brought me a toy dog.  And there in the painting behind me was the same toy with Sheba, a cat my artist friend used to have.  Did I tell you my friend is an artist?  (Click to enlarge the photograph.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Zen Ties ~ by Jon J. Muth

Zen Ties ~ by Jon J. Muth, 2008, children's, 9/10
Summer has arrived — and so has Koo, the haiku-speaking young nephew of Stillwater, the panda.  And when Stillwater encourages Koo and his friends Addy, Michael, and Karl to help a grouchy old neighbor in need, their efforts are rewarded in unexpected ways.  Zen Ties is a disarming story of compassion and friendship that reaffirms the importance of our ties to one another.
The backs of the two pandas are shown on the front cover and their faces on the back cover.  What a concept!  Notice the balloons — appropriately placed to show correct perspective when we look at the other side.  The five balloons (a purple one is added inside with these colors) aren't part of the written story, but illustrations show them being given and shared and jointly lifting the little panda on one page.

I especially like paintings of the elderly woman, who used to teach English and who first appears not to like children.  After the children help her, she helps the older boy prepare for his spelling bee.
"Now listen.  Just like plants, words have roots," Miss Whitaker said.  "A plant grows from its roots and so do words.  Roots of words can teach you to spell."
And then the three children and the two pandas sit down to tea with Miss Whitaker.  The friend I'm housesitting (and cat-sitting) for suggested I would like it.  I do.  I rate this delightful children's book 9 of 10, excellent.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection.  If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Caturday ~ house sitting with Babe

Babe is watching a squirrel, and I'm house sitting, which includes feeding her.  When I arrived this afternoon, she immediately meowed to me and wanted to be petted.  I think we'll have a grand time together.  By the way, her tail was twitching when I took this photo.

When I opened the curtain in "my" bedroom, the timing was perfect for me to see and take notice of a very ordinary event.  A cupped, brown leaf fluttered down, floating and spinning like a helicopter coming in for a landing.  It descended to the stair rail — and slid all the way to the bottom, just like a kid.  Zipping off the end, the leaf became a ballerina, spiraling as she joined the layers of identical brown leaves who'd taken the plunge before she did.

Spong and the non-religious world

Bonnie and Bishop Spong
I went to Grace Episcopal Church yesterday to hear Bishop John Shelby Spong, a world-renowned biblical scholar and theologian.  Spong urges Christians to grow up and take the Bible seriously — but not literally.  He spoke at morning and afternoon sessions, with lots of time allowed for questions and answers.  After the reception and book signing, I came home with these two books.

Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World ~ by John Shelby Spong, 2011, religion, 432 pages
For two hundred years, scholars have been analyzing the Bible and overturning much of what we once thought we knew.  Everyday Christians, however, are not privy to this deeper conversation.  This book is designed to take readers into the contemporary academic debate about the Bible.  Read what he says about the book's publication last week.
  • Spong opens the possibility that some of the characters in the New Testament — such as Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus; Judas Iscariot; Nicodemus; the Samaritan woman at the well; and Lazarus who was raised from the dead — are imaginary composites or literary creations.
  • He explores the origin and essential meaning of each of the individual books in the Bible, examining the background, the context, the level of authenticity, and even the trustworthiness of the messages found there.
  • He explains why these particular books, written between two and three thousand years ago, came to be regarded as authoritative and preserved as sacred.
  • He traces the pathway that biblical religion has traveled as it evolved through the centuries.
  • He shows how people have misused many of these texts in the service of their prejudices.
"One does not," he asserts, "have to twist one's brain into a first-century pretzel in order to take the Bible seriously in this increasingly non-religious world."
Jesus for the Non-Religious ~ by John Shelby Spong, 2007, religion
Writing from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian, sketched a vision of what he called "Religionless Christianity."  In this book, John Shelby Spong puts flesh onto the bare bones of Bonhoeffer's radical thought.  The result is a strikingly new and different portrait of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jesus for the non-religious.

Spong challenges much of the traditional understanding, from the tale of Jesus' miraculous birth to the account of his cosmic ascension into the sky.  He questions the historicity of the ideas that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that he had twelve disciples, or that the miracle stories were ever meant to be descriptions of supernatural events.  He also speaks directly to those critics of Christianity who call God a "delusion" and who describe how Christianity has become evil and destructive.  Spong proposes a new way of understanding the divinity of Christ as the ultimate dimension of a fulfilled humanity.
My name is more legible than his.
My question for both books:  Does the non-religious world care about either the Bible or about Jesus?  Is there any reason they should?  In his November 10th column, Spong says:
"I still believe that Christianity can engage the modern mind in significant dialogue if we dare to take the biblical and theological knowledge that is currently available seriously.  I believe that we ought not to seek to dodge, but to address the questions that impinge upon us daily from the world of knowledge.  I have seen this engagement bear fruit when it has been practiced.  I believe it can happen world-wide."