Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ books, my baby brother, and quilts


We book buddies are still discussing Christianity for the Rest of Us.  A labyrinth was mentioned on page 56, and our conversation turned in that direction.  I have written about several labyrinths, and that's me walking the latest one on Wednesday morning.
Overview of labyrinths for Book Buddies
Labyrinth at Thankful Memorial Episcopal Church
Labyrinth at St. Paul Episcopal Church
Labyrinth at Burks United Methodist Church

My brother Jim wants a new camper and figures this one is about right.  He wrote on Facebook,
"We've missed the camper so much that we decided to buy a new one.  It's more suitable for my needs.  What do you think?"
There's one in every family!


When I visited my friend Emily this week, I admired this quilt she had made.  I started thinking about how many of my friends are quilters.

Judith makes quilts for children in need.  She's on Facebook, and every week she rushes off to quilt with her friends.

Susan @ Patchwork Reflections has this quilt from 2008 at the top of her blog right now.

Wendy @ CaribousMom has entered a quilt into a blogger's quilt festival.

Shirley and I met in an online book discussion, and she's been active in my Book Buddies blog from the beginning.  She doesn't blog, but I see her quilts on Facebook.

And this last quilt was made by my son's mother-in-law, Bea, in 1993.  After I did Bea's funeral in September, my daughter-in-law Sharon wanted me to have this quilt made by her mother.  It is now on my bed.  Sewn onto one corner of the reverse side is a tag that says "Quilted with love for you" with her name and date "Bea W. 93" added using pink embrodery thread.  Pink was Bea's favorite color.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Library Loot ~ October 24-30

Because Helen @ Helen's Book Blog assigned a rating of 5 out of 5 to this young adult novel that is based on a true story, I want to read it, too.

The Queen of Water ~ by Laura Resau, based on the true story of Maria Virginia Farinango, 2011, YA fiction (Ecuador)
Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling.  In her village of indigenas, it is not uncommon to work in the fields all day, even as a child, or to be called a longa tonta stupid Indian by members of the ruling class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants.  When seven-year-old Virginia is taken from her village to be a servant to a mestizo couple, she has no idea what the future holds.  Virginia quickly grows accustomed to the conveniences and luxuries of mestizo life.  But promised pay and visits to her family are quickly forgotten, as is her boss' pledge to send her to school.  Beaten and told that the sole purpose of indigenous girl is to serve, Virginia must fight to hold on to her spirit and humor.  She teaches herself to read and write and performs science experiments in secret.
Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions ~ Rachel Held Evans, 2010, memoir (227.3083 Eva)
Rachel Held Evans recounts her experiences growing up in Dayton, Tennessee, a town that epitomized Christian fundamentalism during the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.  With fearless honesty, Evans describes how her faith survived her doubts and challenges readers to re-imagine Christianity in a postmodern context, where knowing all the answers isn't as important as asking the questions.  She asks questions she never thought she would ask and learns that it must adapt to change and evolve.  Her spiritual journey went from certainty, through doubt, to faith.
A Year Without Autumn ~ by Liz Kessler, 2011, children's fiction
A girl stumbles into the future — and must change its course to save a friendship.  Jenni Green's family vacation has finally arrived!  Even though she has to deal with her annoying little brother, her slightly overbearing dad, and her very pregnant mom, she gets to spend a week with her bestest friend in the world, Autumn.  But twelve-year-old Jenni's world turns upside down when she takes an old elevator to visit Autumn and discovers that everything has changed:  not only is her friend in a different condo, but tragedy has struck Autumn's family, Jenni's mother has had her baby, and everyone is a year older.  When Jenni realizes that the elevator caused her to skip a whole year, she tries to go back, but soon finds that fixing things won't be as easy as pressing a button.  How can she alter the past and keep her family and Autumn's from falling apart?  With honesty and insight, Liz Kessler explores how the bonds of family and friendship can endure through time.
All in Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion ~ by Robert Wuthnow, 2003, religion (291.37 Wut)
Contemporary spirituality is increasingly encouraged by the arts because of its emphasis on transcendent experience and personal reflection.  This kind of spirituality, contrary to what many observers have imagined, is compatible with active involvement in churches and serious devotion to Christian practices.  The absorbing narrative relates the story of a woman who overcame a severe personal crisis and went on to head a spiritual direction center where participants use the arts to gain clarity about their own spiritual journeys.  Clergy and lay leaders are rethinking the role of the imagination, especially in connection with traditional theological virtues.  He also shows how churches and arts organizations sometimes find themselves at odds over controversial moral questions and competing claims about spirituality.
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, just add your post to their Mister Linky any time during the week.  And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries this week.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday memories

When I was new online and did not yet know how to add a photo of myself, I used this orange cat as my profile picture.  My email name, for reasons too complicated to go into, was BoJacobs (Bonnie got shortened to Bo).  So my online persona was this cat with its tail in constant motion.  My question:

How many of you knew me then?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ a book is a book, of course, of course


American Dervish ~ by Ayad Akhtar, 2012, fiction
Hayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time.  His normal life of school, baseball, and video games had previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and by the frequent chill between his parents, who fight over things he is too young to understand.  Then Mina arrives, and everything changes.  Mina is Hayat’s mother’s oldest friend from Pakistan.  She is independent, beautiful, and intelligent, and arrives on their doorstep when her disastrous marriage in Pakistan disintegrates.  Even Hayat’s skeptical father can’t deny the liveliness and happiness that accompanies Mina into their home.  Her deep spirituality brings the family’s Muslim faith to life in a way that resonates with Hayat as nothing has before.  Studying the Quran by Mina’s side and basking in the glow of her attention, he feels an entirely new purpose mingled with a growing infatuation for his teacher.   When Mina meets and begins dating a man, Hayat is confused by his feelings of betrayal.  His growing passions, both spiritual and romantic, force him to question all that he has come to believe is true.  Just as Mina finds happiness, Hayat is compelled to act — with devastating consequences for all those he loves most.
This book arrived on my doorstep this week, won in a giveaway from Alyce @ At Home with Books.  Thanks, Alyce!


It was windy here this week.  This flagpole is outside my Northgate branch of the library.


My three-year-old great-granddaughter Raegan loves pink.  Can you tell?

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Saturday, October 20, 2012


We've been discussing labyrinths on my Book Buddies blog, related to our reading of Diana Butler Bass's book on Christianity for the Rest of Us.  So two of us walked the labyrinth at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Chattanooga today.

The labyrinth was in a courtyard surrounded by the church's buildings, totally enclosed and yet outside.  We started at the "sunny" door (top photo), and this door was on a shady side.  Because the darker "guide lines" were faded, we each missed turns and had to retrace our steps.

The doors into the courtyard were locked, and the couple arriving when we drove up knew where to find someone to let us in.  While waiting for the key, we learned this labyrinth is based on the one inside Chartres Cathedral in France and the wife had been there.  Her access to that labyrinth was more difficult than our short wait, since chairs had been set up all over that one.  You can see the chairs in the photo are set up, but off the actual labyrinth.  This smaller one Donna and I walked today is patterned after the one at Chartres Cathedral.

As I started into the labyrinth, I noticed a feather.  When I passed Donna in an adjacent lane, I told her it was there.  When I came back around that area, I looked for the feather, but it was gone.  Looking across at Donna, I could see it in her hand.  (That white spot above her clasped hands is the feather's white tip.)  I spoke to her when I missed a turn, when I noticed she missed a turn, and probably several more times.  She said not a word, meditating as I should have been doing, if it weren't for all the opportunities to take these pictures for my blog.

As I approached her here, I noticed she was standing still, looking at the deep purple flowers beside the pink and white blossoms.  Just as I got there, I saw a bee fly away.  When we had lunch afterwards, Donna said the bee had an appetizer at one flower and went to another for his lunch.

As I walked, I was aware of splashing water off to the side.  When I had completed my walk back out of the labyrinth, I went to that wall and found a statue and water flowing over and dripping off all the leaves into the stones in the fountain below.  That's when I noticed names on the wall to the left of the fountain.

This had been the church of my neighbor and friend, so I went to read the names.  I heard the "sunny" door close behind me and realized Donna was probably cold and went inside the church when she completed her walk.  My friend Robin Holt died a year after my mother.

This handout from the labyrinth says in part:
"The labyrinth here at St. Paul's is a modified Classical Chartres design, similar to the one laid in the nave of Chartes Cathedral in France around 1220 AD. ... There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth.  Walk with an open mind and an open heart and receive whatever is there for you. ... May God bless you on your journey."
Donna quietly and persistently went through the labyrinth; I was focused on what I'd write and what photos I'd post this evening.  She was "mindful" while I was "mind-full."  Guess who probably got the most out of it?  On the handout is the feather she carried through the labyrinth and then took home as a gift for her cat Sammy.

Caturday ~ hugs and kisses

Someone posted this cat picture on Facebook this week, prompting me to look up pictures of Kiki hugging and kissing me.  Here's what I found, year by year:

To read about these occasions, click the links under each photo.  And here's a story from maybe 2002, give or take a year, that I shared in a comment to a 2008 post:
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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Library Loot ~ October 17-23

The Holy Way: Practices for a Simple Life ~ by Paula Huston, 2003 (NG 248.582 Hus)
Is leading a simple life possible in a world of chaos and complexity?  Huston, a busy forty-something college professor, wife, and mother, embarked on a spiritual journey to find a peaceful, less cluttered kind of life.
Gaining a New Attitude on Life: Four Interactive Bible Studies for Individuals or Small Groups ~ by Max Lucado, 2007 (NG 248.4 Luc)
Using a CD as well as a workbook, Lucado shows how a new attitude changes how we see and experience life.  The four studies cover how to get out of a slump, overcoming a bad attitude, dealing with disappointment, and overcoming a bad attitude about life.
The Soul of Christianity: Restoring the Great Tradition ~ by Huston Smith, 2005 (NG 230 Smi)
Smith cuts through the wide variety of contemporary interpretations of Christianity to describe Christianity's "Great Tradition," the common faith of the first millennium of believers, which is the trunk of the tree from which Christianity's many branches have grown.  This is not the exclusivist Christianity of strict fundamentalists, nor the liberal, watered-down Christianity practiced by many contemporary churchgoers.  In exposing biblical literalism as unworkable as well as enumerating the mistakes of modern secularists, Smith presents the very soul of a real and substantive faith, one still relevant and worth believing in.
Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life ~ by Kathleen Norris, 2008, memoir (NG 248.86)
Norris’s memoir resurrects the ancient term acedia, or soul-weariness, and explores its relevancy to the modern individual and culture.  She had written several much loved books, yet struggled to summon the energy for daily tasks.  Having endured times of deep soul-weariness since she was a teenager, she recognized that this passage described her affliction:  sinking into a state of being unable to care.  Norris restores understanding of this “noonday demon,” so familiar to those in the early and medieval Church, to the modern world’s vernacular.
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, just add your post to their Mister Linky any time during the week.  And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ three books and a cat


I devour books, though I occasionally read one over again.  I'm doing it now.  Let me tell you why.  On Sunday, October 14, 2007, I wrote about books I intended to review that day or the next.  That was posted exactly five years ago today (and it was even a Sunday).  The meme showed up on another of my blogs, Words from a Wordsmith, which rarely gets used these days, so I'll share the pertinent sections here:
2. Last book bought
I rarely buy one book at a time, so this is like trying to remember the last potato chip I bought.  Hmm, let me see, The Assault on Reason by Al Gore was among the last books I bought.

3. Last book read
This is a little easier because, even though I have several books going at any one time, I finish them one at a time.  The most recent two books I completed were Merle's Door by Kerasote and I Never Saw Paris by Harry I. Freund. I'll have both books reviewed by tomorrow evening.
Today's "book report" will be a report on whatever happened to these three books.

#1.  The Assault on Reason ~ by Al Gore, 2007, nonfiction
All it took to find this book was a glance to the right of where I'm sitting as I compose this blog post, and there's the book, on the bottom of a stack of 20-some books.  The dustjacket — yes, I bought it new, in hardback — says it analyzes "how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degradation of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason."  Yep, and it has only gotten worse in the last five years.  I need to read this book, plus another book in the same stack:  Al Gore's 1992 Earth in the Balance.
#2.  Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog ~ by Ted Kerasote, 2007, memoir
I actually got this reviewed.  While on a camping trip, Ted met a Labrador mix dog living in the wild.  When they became attached to each other, Ted name the dog Merle and brought him home.  When he realized Merle’s native intelligence would be diminished by living exclusively in the human world, Ted put a dog door in his house so Merle could live both outside and inside, thus "Merle's door."  I recognized some of the issues that both animals and humans face when living together, but I was fascinated when the author showed how dogs might live if they were allowed to make more of their own decisions.  This is a very touching story, and I very much wanted to know all about Merle.  Rated: 9/10, an excellent book.
#3.  I Never Saw Paris: A Novel of the Afterlife ~ by Harry I. Freund, 2007, fiction
On his way to a department store in Manhattan, 64-year-old businessman, Irving Caldman, is waiting at the intersection of Park Avenue with three other pedestrians, when a driver jumps the curb and runs them all over.  The next thing Irving knows, he is no longer preparing for a trip to Paris with his wife.  Instead, he is watching four faces as they ascend to heaven, on their way to be greeted by the angel Malakh.  Accompanying Irving are an attractive personal shopper in her early fifties; a grandmother who works as a housemaid nearby; a twenty-something man who is an interior decorator; and the driver, a candy store owner and widower.  Bound together for a week with Malakh, before their souls will be allowed to move on for judgment, Irving and his fellow victims must all tell the group their life stories, in order to evaluate and justify their earthly existence.  As their insecurities and deepest secrets are exposed, they argue at length, and yet come to a strange peace, in this unexpected parable.
I knew exactly where to locate this book, too, and I have started re-reading it. I remember really liking it the first time, and I'd like to get a review posted TODAY since I'm almost afraid to say "by tomorrow evening."  And that, dear friends, is why I'm re-reading this book.


As it got dark last night, Sammy sat staring out the patio door.  Maybe she's still looking for Kiki to come home.  I think Sammy is lonely.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Caturday ~ Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich had a cat, see?  That sounds like the start of a nursery rhyme, but Julian (1342-1416) was a Christian mystic.  She is often depicted with a cat, and I have this quote from another blogger (that's gotta be worth a lot):
"Another tidbit I’d love to believe is that Julian had a cat.  There is absolutely no proof of her having a cat.  However, there is proof in the anchorite’s handbook, ANCRENE WISSE, that a cat was the only pet allowed to an anchorite AND there were a lot of rats around in medieval England so a cat would be considered a necessity.  Therefore, she probably had a cat."
These images confirm what's been said so far.  As you can see, a cat is in each one.  Of course, they can't be the same cat because they are different colors.  Hmm, so how many cats did Julian have?  A striped tabby with white tummy, a striped, orange-colored cat, a marmalade-colored one in the stained glass version, and here's one who looks somewhat like my Kiki cat, except for the tail and paws.

I have known many people who assumed that, if it's in a book, it must be true.  So here's my proof positive that Julian had a cat.  We can even pick which of these "portraits" is most accurate, judging by this synopsis of a book!  And look, the cat on the cover is yet another possible coloring.

Julian's Cat: An Imaginary History of a Cat of Destiny ~ by Mary E. Little, 1989
In Norwich Cathedral there is a stained glass window depicting the great mystic, Julian of Norwich . In her hands she holds her book, Revelations of Divine Love, and at her feet sits possessively a regal cat the color of marmalade, staring boldly out at the world.  Who was this mysterious feline who so endeared himself to Mother Julian, the author wondered.  He must have a story.  The pranks of the slightly naughty but lovable cat will charm pet lovers, the tale of the little child who first loved him will touch the heart, and the language and richness of detail will transport the reader through the pungent streets of medieval Norwich and into the lives of many colorful characters.  Here is an enchanting adventure for Julian followers, anglophiles, and cat lovers of all ages.
If we credit the book with being closest to the truth, then we must find a marmalade-colored cat.  Do you see which cat that is?  Even better, do you see the famous quote from the Julian's writings?
"All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."
That reflects her theology, depicted by her writing in one picture and holding a book in another.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Emotions, Pleasure, Senses, Mindfulness, Gratitude
by Kristin Neff
          The practice of savoring is closely related to gratitude.  Savoring refers to the conscious enjoyment of that which gives us pleasure; that is, lingering over delightful experiences, swishing them around in our awareness like a glass of good wine.  We often think of savoring in terms of a sensual experience:  noticing the subtle taste and aroma of our food rather than merely wolfing it down.  Smelling, tasting, and caressing our lover's skin rather than merely "doing the deed."  But savoring can be applied to all enjoyable experiences — reveling in the lovely sound of a friend's laughter, the beauty of a fallen leaf, the satisfying depth and complexity of a well-written novel.
          When we savor an experience, we hold it in mindful awareness, paying conscious attention to the pleasant thoughts, sensations, and emotions arising in the present moment.  We can also savor delightful memories, so that we relive joyous experiences and appreciate them all over again — like the day we met our life partner, or first held our newborn child, or took that romantic trip to Prague.  Savoring is an intentional act designed to prolong and deepen pleasure, luxuriating in its beauty.
Original source:  Kristin Neff in Self-Compassion.
I found this on the Spirituality and Practice website and was intrigued by the whole idea of "savoring" something in a mindful way.  I found this definition:  "Enjoy or appreciate (something pleasant) completely, especially by dwelling on it."  Or by lying on it, like the little girl in the photo.  Don't you love the expression on her face?