Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Memories ~ answering five questions

My Photo

In 2007, I answered five questions put to me by Wanderlust Scarlett @ From the shores of Introspect and Retrospect.  Memes were much more popular then.  I answered on one of my other blogs, so this isn't really a repeat here.  And I've updated parts of my answers.

1.  You live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  How did you wind up there, and what's it like to live there?  Do you enjoy it?

Chattanooga is a beautiful city, as you can see in these photos.  I love this city!  How did I wind up here?  My parents and grandparents all lived here, so it's where I was born.  I lived in Atlanta for three years and for a couple of years in and near Knoxville, Tennessee; however, the mountains cradling Chattanooga always drew me home.  It also helps that my three married children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren are here.  They all live in the same part of town, within minutes of each other.
2. What encouraged you to start "Weekend Wordsmith" (which is a fascinating idea and project), and what do you like best about it?
A great variety of prompts for writers can be found all over the blogosphere, but usually they are limited to words.  I'm a visual person, so I offer both words and pictures.  I recently revised the blog, so check out what prompt we weekend wordsmiths have this week (and consider becoming one of us).  I like seeing how many directions a word or two can take us.
3. You owned a bookstore... (curiouser and curiouser!).  How did that happen, what did you love/hate about it, would you do it again?
My best friend Donna and I both love books.  After my retirement and after a couple of years of learning the bookstore business by working for other bookstores, we decided to take a leap of faith and start a used book store.  We were ready to buy, sell, and trade when we signed the lease on a quaint brick building at an intersection where two main roads meet.  Then my mother died and her funeral was the same week we opened.  We did manage to get books on most of the shelves before opening day, but it was not an auspicious beginning.  We discovered that traffic on those busy roads zipped by without noticing we had a big parking lot behind our building.  So we started book clubs, tried advertising in print and on the radio, and struggled to pay the bills.  But I loved it!   I absolutely loved helping customers find the right book, tracking down out-of-print books, bringing in local writers for book signings.

Then less than a year into our 5-year lease, the floor started sinking and 9-1-1 sent fire and police, who evacuated the building and wrapped it in yellow tape.  We couldn't go back inside!  Long story short:  we found another location, moved a store-full of books, lost the money we had spent on signage on the building and at the street, paid movers and packers, had to sign new contracts for phones and utilities, and watched our customers melt away because we "disappeared" from their radar.  The new place was less visible, had less space, was not as cozy (which changed the atmosphete) ... and by that time we couldn't afford the kind of lighted signs required by the landlord.  It didn't stand a chance and closed after a few months in that location.  Do it again?  Nah, I don't think so, especially not after I developed back problems from lifting all those heavy boxes of books.  But it was fun while it lasted.
4. Your fortune cookie says "You will pay for your sins, if you've already paid, please disregard this message."  What was your favorite sin (PG-13), and what are some that you thought about but didn't follow through with?
My favorite sin? Hmmm, must be my book addiction, always buying or borrowing or lusting after one more book, or six, or ten. Some sin I thought about but didn't do?  Oh, I think I've managed to do all I thought about, including that BIGGIE:  indulging in a bookstore binge!
5. You took a mini vacation under my hidden palm tree.  Where would you go with a blank ticket in hand?  Why?

It seems foreordained that "wanderlust" Scarlett would ask me a traveling question!  Her beautiful photo of a single palm tree by an ocean beach looked something like this one I found online.  I'd probably go around the world, visiting the settings included in the book I am writing, Around the World in 80 Books, which covers both fiction and nonfiction accounts of people living in the widest possible variety of places I can find in print.  Though my intended audience is book clubs and individuals who have no one to discuss a book with, I can imagine travelers using my book before going on trips.
Good questions, Scarlett! I had fun, though my answers were probably longer than you had anticipated. Thanks.

Here are the rules of the game, in case anyone else wants to play:
1.  Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2.  I will respond by emailing you five questions.  I get to pick the questions.
3.  You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4.  You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5.  When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
I have one taker, do I have two?
Helen @ Helen's Book Blog has answered five questions.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ East meets West

Great Buddha of Kamakura
Jan @ Yearning for God plans to read Thích Nhất Hạnh's Living Buddha, Living Christ with me.  Would you like to join us?  You may be able to buy a used copy or borrow it from your library.  Opening the book at random, I found this teaser about women:
"The Buddha accepted women into his Sangha and they became teachers, transmitters of precepts, playing the same roles as the monks.  The first person Jesus revealed Himself to after His resurrection was a woman" (p. 71).
Just finished
1.  Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter ~ by Beth Kephart, 2000, memoir,  8/10
2.  The Homesick Restaurant ~ by Anne Tyler, 1982, fiction (Maryland)
3.  The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed  the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels ~ by Thomas Cahill, 1998, history (Israel)
4.  Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, introduction by Elaine Pagels, 1995, religion
Thursday was my birthday, so now I'm 72.  My twin daughters took me to lunch, and my best friend took me to dinner that evening.   My son tried to visit the night before, but when he called, I was across town trading in books at the big used books store (Thursday's post shows what I brought home).  He found a way to get his card and gift to me on time.  I have great kids!

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

My favorite tree(s) ~ remembered on Arbor Day

Barbara Clark asked on Facebook yesterday:
"Happy Arbor Day! What is your favorite tree?"
My favorite tree varied with where I lived.  I remember the two oak trees growing on opposite sides of the sidewalk when we lived in a duplex.  Gloria, a year older than I was (three years old to my two), had a tree on her side and I had one on my side.  Each had a tiny wall around it, a few inches high.  Gloria and I would circle our trees together, walking precariously on our little walls, balancing by touching our own trees as we went round and round, laughing.

When I was three, we moved into my grandmother's house after she died.  The plum tree beside the driveway became my climbing tree.  I could pluck a plum and eat it there, while it was still warm from the sun.

An elm tree grew beside the street and was visible from my bedroom window at the next place we moved.  It had that distinctive elm tree shape that I remember, though you younger readers may not, since a blight took out the elms all over the country.

My husband and I lived in an apartment, when we first married, and parked our car in the shade of a pecan tree in the back.  People came from all around to pick up the pecans that fell from the large tree, so we didn't get many of them.

At two or three years old, our twin daughters wanted to help us rake up the circle of yellow leaves under the hickory tree in our front yard.  Beautiful leaves on the tree in October and on the ground by Halloween.

We built a house on Signal Mountain actually, the house is in the town of Walden on Walden's Ridge, but known around Chattanooga as Signal Mountain, for the town that overlooks the Tennessee River.  A dogwood grew beside the driveway and became our climbing tree.

For a year, I lived in Knoxville for my job and left my mother living in the house on Signal Mountain.  In the Fountain City area of Knoxville, we had a beautiful Japanese cherry tree.  We were on the Dogwood Trail, and each year cars would follow the trail painted on the roads.  Though the people were out to see dogwoods, they stopped in droves to photograph the Japanese cherry tree in our yard.

When I moved back home to Signal Mountain, the red-leafed maple tree I had planted by the driveway was bigger and prettier.  I had moved it from an area where gas lines were laid through the neighborhood a few months later, so it was a special tree that wouldn't have lived if I hadn't moved it.

I lived with a tall crepe myrtle tree from 1987 to 2005.  It always made me think of the pair of crepe myrtles my grandmother had planted, on the same lot with that plum tree (above).

We never did positively identify the tree in our teensy-tiny plot of dirt at Windsor Village apartments, but someone called it a lilac.  Here's the base of the tree, which did have white blooms.  I grew a picture-perfect tomato beside this tree.

The neighborhood had lots of magnolias, and one was in the yard of the house next to mine in St. Elmo.  Its limbs draped over part of my yard, and it was beautiful.

And now, in my latest apartment complex, I have this ornamental cherry tree that I showed you in March (spring has sprung) and early April (feeling foolish).  This is my tree photo; I googled to find the others.

Summary (for myself)
oak (ages 2-3), Main Street
plum (ages 3-8), 5th Avenue
elm (ages 9-18), East 26th Street
pecan (ages 18-19), Meadowbrook Drive
hickory (ages 20-25), Coburn Drive
dogwood (ags 25-39), East Brow Road
Japanese cherry (ages 40-41), Knoxville
maple (ages 42-44), East Brow Road
*** (ages 44-47), Atlanta
crepe myrtle (ages 47-64), Avalon Circle
lilac ??? (ages 65-67), Mountain Creek Road
magnolia (ages 68-71), St. Elmo Avenue
ornamental cherry tree (72+), Hixson Pike
***   The only trees I remember from Atlanta were pulped to make paper for the books I read in seminary, while studying for my master's degree.

Caturday ~ Kiki loves me

Kiki loves to be near me.  Thursday, when I stretched out to read a bit, she snuggled up against me, wrapped her paws around my arm, and tucked her head in tight.  These hugs (it isn't the first time, as you can see here and here and here) make it hard to turn pages with one hand and read.  But she loves me and it was my birthday.  Who could resist?

Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by Alyce from At Home With Books.  To participate, post an old or new photo taken by you (or a friend or family member).  Check out the snapshots others are sharing this week.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beginning ~ with a funny thought

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant ~ by Anne Tyler, 1982, fiction
While Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occurred to her.  It twitched her lips and rustled her breath, and she felt her son lean forward from where he kept watch by her bed.  "Get..." she told him.  "You should have got..."

You should have got an extra mother, was what she meant to say, the way we started extra children after the first child fell so ill.
This opening made me want to keep reading about the Tull family:
Beck, the father who deserts them
Pearl, the mother who does the best she can
Cody, who is mean to his brother
Ezra, who relates to people by feeding them
Jenny, whose mother thinks she's a tramp
I've read about a third of the novel, and each chapter (so far) has been from the viewpoint of a different character:  first Pearl, then Cody, then Jenny, and now Ezra.  Here's a synopsis of the book.
Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not of her memory.  It was a Sunday night in 1944 when her husband left the little row house on Baltimore’s Calvert Street, abandoning Pearl to raise their three children alone:  Jenny, high-spirited and determined, nurturing to strangers but distant to those she loves; the older son, Cody, a wild and incorrigible youth possessed by the lure of power and money; and sweet, clumsy Ezra, Pearl’s favorite, who never stops yearning for the perfect family that could never be his own.  Now Pearl and her three grown children have gathered together again – with anger, hope, and a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell.

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

From here to there ~ writing prompt

The prompt at Weekend Wordsmith this week is "from here to there."  This globe shows how close the state of Maine is to the continent of Africa, but the words make me think of my friends with "interesting" spacial problems.

When we first met, my friend Donna told me that, if she ever says "turn right," I should probably turn left, instead.  A few days after that advice, we were on our way to or from a restaurant and she said, "Turn right."  (Honestly, I'm not kidding!)  I did, and we were on our way up a ramp to an expressway and had to go miles to the next exit before I could get us turned around and back to where I goofed by taking her advice.  That experience did make me a believer, and I learned to question her driving directions.

My friend Ginnie is so spacially challenged that she doesn't drive out of a parking lot until she sets her GPS.  Since she hears the device's female voice so regularly, she has named it Jill.  I've been with her often enough to know that Jill always waits too long to give Ginnie instructions at one particular location, so I tell Ginnie to move into the left lane half a block before we hear Jill say, "Make a left turn onto XYZ street."  If Jill ever quits working, I could apply for her job.

What about you?  Do you have any good "from here to there" experiences to share?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Birthday books ~ and a poem (or two)

I learned from Jan @ Yearning for God that today (my birthday!) is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  The idea is simple:  select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends. You readers are my friends, so-o-o-o-o .......

I'll share Emily Dickinson's poem "I'm Nobody!  Who are you?"
I'm nobody!  Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
Oh, wait!  I can't let this day (my "birth day," as in this poem) go by without something by e. e. cummings, whose poetry is absurdly fun.  How about this one?
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Last year, I posted a list of books I got for my birthday.  It seems like a good "tradition" to start, so yesterday, I bought some more books for myself.  Here are my newest birthday books to myself:

Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary ~ by Lao Tzu, translated by Ralph Alan Dale, photographs by John Cleare, 2002
To live life in accordance with "Tao" (life-force or the way) is to be in harmony with others, with the environment, and with oneself.  This book of wisdom is the sacred book of Taoism  This version has beautiful illustrations, and I had to have it.
Tao Te Ching ~ by Lao Tzu, translated by Charles Muller, notes by Yi-Ping Ong, 2005
When I shop for different versions of this book, I always read number eleven (or chapter 11, if you prefer) because I've found so many translations, and each one gives us a different way of looking at this bit of wisdom.
Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way ~ by Lao Tzu, rendition by Ursula K. Le Guin, with the collaboration of J. P. Seaton, 1997
Even thought she doesn't speak Chinese, Ursula K. Le Guin has studied the Tao for over forty years.
Why, you ask, do I need three versions of the same book?  Different translations, mainly.  I already have (I think) about eleven.  When I teach Religions of the World, I hand out my copies and ask students to read the various versions.  We are enriched by the different ways of thinking about the same thing.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation ~ by Stephen Mitchell, 2000
Although I didn't go looking for this core text of the Hindu tradition, Mitchell is such a wonderful translator that I went ahead and got it.  (His is my favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching.)  Hinduism has several sacred books, including the Upanishads (or Vedanta, the end of the Vedas) and the Bhagavad Gita.  When I studied Hinduism in college, we looked mainly at the Upanishads, so I need to read this book to broaden my understanding.
Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, introduction by Elaine Pagels, 1995, religion
I wrote about this book in yesterday's library loot post.  I quickly decided it's one I want to keep, so I got this used paperback copy (the red one is the hardback version).
Helen @ Helen's Book Blog noticed (see comments below this post) I've been writing about lots of books about religion, and she's right.  I don't read exclusively about religion, but I am after all an ordained United Methodist minister (retired) and have taught Religions of the World as an adjunct at Chattanooga State since about 1992.  In other words, this is where my studies have led me.

I leave you now with a kaleidoscope of color shared today by Colleen @ Loose Leaf Notes.  Use your mouse to play with these colors.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Library Loot ~ April 25 - May1

Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, introduction by Elaine Pagels, 1995, religion
Buddha and Christ, perhaps the two most pivotal figures in the history of humankind, each left behind a legacy of teachings and practices that have shaped the lives of billions of people over two millennia.  If they were to meet on the road today, what would each think of the other's spiritual views and practices?  Thích Nhất Hạnh explores the crossroads of compassion and holiness at which the two traditions meet, and reawakens our understanding of both.
Even though I am trying to read twice as many of my own books as library books (see other goals), I got this one because the author is one Jeffrey Small says influenced his ideas in writing his novel The Breath of God.
Finally, the writings of the following scholars have inspired me and contributed to many of my themes:  Marcus Borg, Thích Nhất Hạnh, John Hick, Stephen Mitchell, John Robinson, Huston Smith, John Shelby Spong, and Paul Tillich.
I have studied or read books by all of the others, so I figured I need to read something by Hạnh, as well.  This title seems to be the one by him in my library that most directly related to what was in Jeffrey Small's novel, one I've almost bought a time or two, so I checked it out yesterday.  I am also happy to see that the introduction is by Elaine Pagels, a writer whose books I have appreciated for over thirty years.  The foreword is by Brother David Steindl-Rast, another impressive thinker.  This really looks to be an excellent book.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share titles of books they’ve checked out of the library. To participate, add your post to their Mister Linky any time during the week. And check out what others got from their libraries this week.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You may be a bookaholic ... (#16)

... if you know what a TBR stack is.

To see all my bookaholic posts, click here:  You may be a bookaholic

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Metaphor of God Incarnate ~ by John Hick

The Metaphor of God Incarnate: Christology in a Pluralistic Age ~ by John Hick, 2005, religion
John Hick refutes the traditional Christian understanding of Jesus of Nazareth. According to Hick, Jesus did not teach what was to become the orthodox understanding of him: that he was God incarnate who became human to die for the sins of the world. Further, the traditional dogma of Jesus' two natures--human and divine--cannot be explained satisfactorily, and worse, it has been used to justify great human evils. Thus, the divine incarnation, he explains, is best understood metaphorically. Nevertheless, he concludes that Christians can still understand Jesus as Lord and the one who has made God real to us. This second edition includes new chapters on the Christologies of Anglican theologian John Macquarrie and Catholic theologian Roger Haight, SJ.
Because Jeffrey Small mentions John Hick as one of the writers who inspired his novel The Breath of God, I moved this book up in the TBR stack to read during the Spring Reading Thing 2012.  I studied Hick in college, but we read only articles by him.  Although I've had this book at least two or three years, I read only the first chapter before putting it aside to finish other books, not for lack of interest, but simply because I got sidetracked.  Now's the right time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ more books?


I've been taking part in Dewey's 24-hour Readathon, which started (for me) at 8:00 a.m. yesterday.  I ran out of steam and slept the last two hours this morning, as well as about an hour and a half in the middle when I dozed off.  I read one book and, if I hadn't spent so much time playing with the mini-challenges, I'd have finished it.  (I'm near the end, so I'll read the rest this morning before I sleep.)


It's not my fault the closest used book store is going out of business.  Though my goal is to clear my shelves by giving away books, I've been bringing some home, as well.  I bought some last week at 50% off, and again this week at 70% off — and the prices were already low, low, low used-book prices.  Okay, I'll brag a little and say I have given away more than I've replaced.  That ought to count for something.  Now to show you the bookstore booty, seven books for less than eight dollars.

The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship ~ by Jeffrey Zaslow, 2009
This book is a tribute to female friendships, the story of eleven girls and the ten women they became.  As children, they formed a special bond, growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa.  As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet managed to maintain an extraordinary friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious death of the eleventh member of their group.  The girls, now in their forties, have a lifetime of memories in common, some evocative of their generation and some that will resonate with any woman who has ever had a friend.  Close female relationships can shape every aspect of women's lives their sense of themselves, their choice of men, their need for validation, their relationships with their mothers, their dreams for their daughters and reveals how such friendships thrive, rewarding those who have committed to them.
After I brought these books home, I picked up the book I'd been reading (The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley) and noticed that the author "teaches at Iowa State University and lives in Ames, Iowa." I hadn't noticed "Ames" until then.  An interesting coincidence.

The Mother-Daughter Book Club ~ by Shireen Dodson, 1997
This is the story of a group of mothers and their daughters, and how their relationships were strengthened and changed by starting a monthly reading club.  But it is also a practical step-by-step guide — filled with stories, anecdotes, and reading lists — that will inspire parents to start reading clubs of their own.  It's about mothers and daughters, girls and women, and how reading and talking enriches our relationships with one another.
America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines ~ by Gail Collins, 2003, history
Gail Collins shows how women lived, what they cared about, and how they felt about marriage, sex, and work.  She begins with the lost colony of Roanoke and the early southern "tobacco brides" who came looking for a husband and sometimes — thanks to the stupendously high mortality rate — wound up marrying their way through three or four.  Spanning wars, the pioneering days, the fight for suffrage, the Depression, the era of Rosie the Riveter, the civil rights movement, and the feminist rebellion of the 1970s, Collins describes the way women's lives were altered by dress fashions, medical advances, rules of hygiene, social theories about sex and courtship, and the ever-changing attitudes toward education, work, and politics.  While keeping her eye on the big picture, Collins still notes that corsets and uncomfortable shoes mattered a lot, too.
The Book of Beginnings: The Story of Genesis and Job ~ by Steve Stephens, 1998, fiction
This artistic interpretation of the Book of Genesis follows the stories of Man, Woman, the Walker, the Land Baron, the Merchant, the Princess, the Schemer, the Dreamer, and other familiar biblical characters recast in simple, yet elegant, storybook prose.  Similar to Walter Wangerin's bestselling The Book of God, this book breathes new life into familiar Bible stories and characters.
Beyond Our Selves ~ by Catherine Marshall, 1961, religion
I read this book in the early 1960s, shortly after it was first published.  Now I want to see if it's still as meaningful to me now as it was then.  This week, I ran across this quote online:  "While Catherine Marshall is not on record as a universalist, she strongly hints at the idea in her book Beyond Our Selves in which she quotes Hannah Whitall Smith."  I'll look for any indications as I read the book again.
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith ~ by Marcus J. Borg, 2003, religion
Here's another one I've already read, taught from repeatedly, and written about many times on this blog.  I want to give it to someone (who may read this and wonder if it's for her), and it was so very, very inexpensive — as well as clean and unmarked — that I really had to buy it.  You understand, don't you?  And besides, when I give it away, I'll be "cleaning off my shelves" as I intended to do this spring.  (Can you see my wicked grin?)
The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant ~ by John Dominic Crossan, 1991, history
This book reveals the true Jesus who he was, what he did, what he said.  It opens with "The Gospel of Jesus," Crossan's studied determination of Jesus' actual words and actions stripped of any subsequent additions and placed in a capsule account of his life story.  The Jesus who emerges is a savvy and courageous Jewish Mediterranean peasant, a radical social revolutionary, with a rhapsodic vision of economic, political, and religious egalitarianism and a social program for creating it.

I took part in the very first Earth Day in 1970, my youngest grandchild was born on Earth Day in 2000 (happy birthday, Cady!), and I really like this famous Earth Day poster from 1971.

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