Friday, August 30, 2013

Beginning ~ with a pregnant traveler

America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines ~ by Gail Collins, 2003, history
"Eleanor Dare must have been either extraordinarily adventurous or easily led.  In 1587, when she was pregnant with her first child, she set sail across the Atlantic, headed for a continent where no woman of her kind had ever lived, let alone given birth."
I remember learning about Virginia Dare in school.  She was the first English baby born in America, so I figured the pregnaant Eleanor Dare must be her mother.  I knew from the back cover that Gail Collins "tells the story of how women shaped the nation and our vision of what it means to be female in America."  And I'm interested.  The history lessons I was taught were all about men and wars and politics; but this book is about "how women lived, what they cared about, and how they felt about marriage, sex, and work."  I've finished the first chapter, so far, and look forward to the rest, including the last chapter — "The Sixties: The Pendulum Swings Back with a Vengeance" — which covers the time when I was a young mother.  I've already read Gail Collins's 2009 book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, which I reviewed here.  Now I need to catch up with what came before.

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

Friday Five ~ First Times

In today's Friday Five for RevGals, we're looking at Firsts.

1.  Your first "place" — whether it was an apartment, dorm room, or home with a new spouse, the first place where you really felt like a grown-up.
Grown up?  I finished a semester of college before marrying at eighteen, but we put off having children until after we bought our first house a year later.  In the meantime, I had a lot of growing up to do, things like learning to cook.  Being scholarly — which we'd call nerdy today, I guess — I hadn't paid a lot of attention to my mother's attempts to teach me about food, even though she later became a cafeteria manager.  So I frequently called her to ask, "How do you cook pork chops?" or "How long does it take to bake potatoes in the oven?"  I tended to teach myself other things, like sewing.  One Sunday evening, while the family was at church (I don't remember why I stayed home), I cut out and sewed together a blouse on my own and was making hand-stitched button holes when Mom got home and inspected my work.  It was good enough to wear to school.  However, I'm still not fond of housework and would rather have my nose in a  book or write another blog post.
2.  Your first time away from home.  Construe this any way you want.  College?  Girl Scout Camp?  Study abroad?
I was a mere 18 months old, so I was told, when I first spent a night away from home — with relatives.  Obviously, I don't remember that, so I'll tell you about Girl Scout Camp at Fall Creek Falls, located near those falls pictured above.  My cousin Carolyn and I roomed in the same cabin with a couple of other girls.  The mountain streams, where we swam, were freezing cold.  We went to the falls and actually climbed down the steep sides to the base of the falls while holding onto a thick metal cable.  Fall Creek Falls is the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River, according to Wikipedia.  The total height is 256 feet (78 m), and we campers climbed to the bottom and stood on the slippery wet rocks behind the falls.  Our counselors told us it was taller than Niagra Falls.  When I returned as an adult, the cable had been removed.  I can't imagine letting youngsters climb down (and back up) with no safety devices but our own hands clinging to the cable.  Yet I did it several times in the years I camped there, first as a Scout and later at church camp.
3.  Your first job in your field of endeavor (so, not babysitting, unless you are A Professional Babysitter today).
I was considered "second career" when I attended seminary, but we'll have to count to figure out how many "careers" I had before pastor.  Let's see, not counting babysitting (which I did overnight for neighbors while both parents worked, when I was only 14), I was a file clerk in a teacher's agency, did office work and shipping while in college, worked in the merchandising department at Sears Roebuck (had to leave that job at about 4-5 months pregnant in 1959 because that was the rule), motherhood (what, you don't call THAT a career?), illustrated a couple of books, became a published freelance writer at 25 (have been published locally, nationally, and internationally now), wrote grants for county government, edited two in-house publications (which included doing most of the writing and all of the B/W photography), did management training, started my own company doing training in the South (like at hospitals), taught continuing education at local colleges, went to seminary for my MDiv and became a pastor, taught Religions of the World as adjunct at Chattanooga State Community College, and opened my own bookstore with a friend after retirement.  Oh, yeah, one more — on Saturday nights, while getting my first degree (BA with double major in philosophy/religion and in English), I stuffed the Sunday funnies and advertising into our local newspaper.  Okay, which of those "count" as a field of endeavor?
4.  Your first time hosting.  Again, construed broadly, this could be a dinner for the in-laws, your first time to have guests for a holiday meal, etc.
Must not have been memorable, since I'm not remembering anything I'd consider "first time."  I know I made a conscious effort not to be like my mother, who never seemed to sit down and join us when company was there — she was always jumping up to go get something else or re-fill a glass.  I made a point of enjoying the people whenever we entertained.  Charlotte and Harry came for supper a lot of weekends when we were first married, while they were still dating.  One odd fact:  three couples from our church married in February 1959 — Nathan and Mary Alice on the 1st, Jim and Jane on the 15th, and us on the 28th.  Harry and Charlotte waited another couple of years.  (Mary Alice died years ago, Charlotte died in March, Jane and I both divorced and are now "widowed," as our former husbands have died.)
5.  Your first love.  That can be a person or something else!!
I remember falling in love with Lewis in the first grade.  His dog jumped up on me after running through hot tar that summer and ruined my pretty blouse, but I don't remember if that's what ended it for us or starting back to school in the fall.  In second grade, I fell for Nathan (yes, that Nathan mentioned in #4) — and I don't remember any others until Tom, when I was in sixth grade and he was two years older (and totally unaware of me).
Hmm, looks like I took a walk down memory lane.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

BTT (#39) ~ quality or quantity?

Today's prompt from Booking Through Thursday:
"Which is more important?  Quality for your reading?  Or quantity?"

The question makes no sense to me.  Oh, I understand the words, just not why anyone would choose to read books just to say they had read lots of books.  My answer, of course, is quality.  See my profile on the sidebar, where the only thing I say is "I read to explore ideas."

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Let's dance

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, plus countless others, including the ones below.  I couldn't find a way to embed Let's Dance, so let's watch it on YouTube.  Whoever put this montage of dancers together has a wonderful sense of music.  Oh, and it starts with ballet and a little Riverdance, and includes Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, Shirley Temple, Dancing with the Stars, and the Yellow Brick Road.

Gene Kelly "Singin' in the Rain"

John Travolta in "Grease"

Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk

Elvis Presley in "Jailhouse Rock"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Library Loot ~ August 21-27

Don't Kiss the Frog! : Princess Stories with Attitude ~ chosen by Fiona Waters, 2008, children's
This collection of six stories about princesses with attitude turns fairy-tale traditions upside down.  Perfect for girls who love tiaras, ballgowns, and happy endings — but also sports, silly jokes, and being different.  Featuring the work of seven writers and three illustrators, this anthology of “princess stories with attitude” will make kids laugh as they encounter a bevy of sleepy, sporty, clumsy, brave, resourceful, and curious princesses.
  • "The Clumsy Princess" ~ by Lou Kuenzler, illustrated by Miriam Latimer
  • "The Princess Exchange" ~ by Anne Marie Ryan, illustrated by Sarah Massini
  • "The Princess and the P. E." ~ by Angela Kanter, illustrated by Miriam Latimer
  • "Sleepy Beauty" ~ by William Bedford, illustrated by Ella Burfoot
  • "Double Dragons" ~ by Enid Richemont, illustrated by Sarah Massini
  • "Princess Rose" ~ by Elaine Canham and Rose Canham, illustrated by Ella Burfoot
I've been checking out children's picture books lately, but I haven't managed to read them or review them.  Some of them were suggested by A Mighty Girl, which suggested a different kind of princess for girls to read about.  See also, for example, Part-Time Princess in last week's Library Loot.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages us to share titles of books we’ve checked out of the library.  Add your link any time during the week, and see what others got this week.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reading Books I Own Challenge ~ part one

Pam @ Travellin' Penguin (she collects Penguin books) has started a reading challenge for herself and any of us who want to join her.  As I sit here typing and looking up at the stacks of books that surround me, I know that I must — I really MUST — follow her example and read these books I already have.
"The Challenge:  I will read [only***] the books I own and put the list up linked to the badge. ... Feel free to take the badge and link it to your list of books you own.  You might only want to do a list of 10 or 20 at a time."
I took the badge, and I wrote up the challenge [almost***] as she wrote it.  I compared the shelves in her post to my bookshelves, and I started compiling a list of books.  Here's what I plan to read first, though I'll count any additional books that come from my own boxes, shelves, or stacks.  I'll start today with the first one on this list.

1.  Simplify Your Life: How to De-Clutter and De-Stress Your Way to Happiness ~ by Sam Davidson, 2011
2.  The Dalai Lama's Cat ~ by David Michie, 2012, fiction
3.  How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life ~ by the Dalai Lama, 2002
4.  Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future ~ by Margaret J. Wheatley, 2009
5.  Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1995
6.  Inferno ~ by Dan Brown, 2013, fiction
7.  Mixed Blessings ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor, 1986
8.  Reflections on My Call to Preach: Connecting the Dots ~ by Fred Brenning Craddock, 2009
9.  The Death of Fidel Perez ~ by Elizabeth Huergo, 2013, fiction
10.  Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor, 2006
When I finish ten books (which may change as I go along), I'll post another ten and call it "Reading Books I Own Challenge ~ part two."  Stay tuned.

*** I modified her word [only***] because I'm a teacher and a writer and MUST read other books.  However, my goal is to read my own books, in chunks of ten at a time.  That will help clear the shelves and de-clutter some books from my life.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Salon ~ déjà vu

Photo source
I want to say it's "déjà vu all over again," but it's slightly different.  Last week's Sunday Salon was about my quantum leap to Nantucket by using Google maps, as I put myself into the setting of the novel I was reading.  The memoir I finished yesterday was similar, in that the author herself used Google to return to a former home.  Here's the story.
Mother, Daughter, Me ~ by Katie Hafner, 2013, memoir (California), 9/10
Hafner invited her elderly mother to move in with her and her daughter, necessitating a move from San Diego to San Francisco.  The whole memoir is about what that entailed, as the author remembers life events good and (mostly) bad that were problematical for their living together.  Most of the book was about the three women of three generations trying to deal with each other and the men in their lives.  But there was a fourth woman involved, making them not a trio but a foursome — mother, daughter, "me" (the author), and sister.  At the end of the book, she's looking at a photo of herself and her sister Sarah (p. 258).
"It's a large black-and-white print of Sarah and me on our trikes, in front of the Rochester house, at ages five and three."
She describes the two of them, what they're wearing, how they look.  And that's where my surprise came in.  And I grinned as I read this paragraph (p. 259).
"We two sisters are on the long driveway; there's a carefully trimmed hedge behind us, and two young trees.  I take the photograph and put it next to my computer on the dining room table.  I type the address ... into Google Maps.  Up pops the house.  I zoom in on the photo.  There's the big stucco house, set back from the street.  And there's the long driveway, as long as I remember, and the very same hedge now unkempt, and the trees, now matured.  Those two little girls on their tricycles have long since been plucked out of the picture.  No doubt there have been many other kids, in strollers and wagons and on trikes and pogo sticks, bicycles and skateboards, then hand-me-down cars, traveling that driveway in the forty-seven years since Sarah and I left the scene.  I look at the photograph again.  We're going somewhere on those trikes of ours, we just don't know where."
I left out the address, giving you only an ellipsis.  The book gives the address, and I looked up the house myself and "walked" through the neighborhood.  I'm really having fun with Google maps as I read books about places.  I kept googling.  After my mother's mother died when I was three, we moved into her house and lived there for five or six years.  I typed in the address, went there via Google maps, and took a look.  The trees and hedges are gone, but it's been 70 years.  Of course it's changed!

Illustration by Jeff Zwirek
As for me, I hope I never have to move in with a daughter.  Katie Hafner used a pseudonym to protect her mother's privacy, but it must be painful to read what her daughter thinks of her.  As for the book, it's excellent and gets a rating of 9 out of 10 from me.

The Sunday Salon's Facebook page has links to other blogs.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beginning ~ with disappointment

Mother, Daughter, Me ~ by Katie Hafner, 2013, memoir (California)
"My longing for her was always there.  What I wanted more than anything was my mother's attention.  I plotted and I campaigned.  I hatched plans.  I pleaded.  Then, just when I thought I had her, she would slip; from my grasp.  As the disappointments piled up, I learned to focus on pinpoints of hope:  The less demanding the request, I figured, the greater my chances of success."
This beginning may explain the cover (which I dislike):  designed to look roughly torn and badly taped back together.  Uh-huh, a metaphor for mother-daughter dysfunction.  Throw in a third generation ("daughter"), and we are bound to have problems.  I look forward to reading this memoir.

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

BTT (#38) ~ Neither a borrower…

Today's prompt from Booking Through Thursday:
"I’ve asked before how you feel about lending your books.  I’ve asked how you feel about libraries.  But how do you feel about borrowing books from friends?  Is this something you like to do?  Does it make you feel uncomfortable or rushed while reading?  Does it affect how you feel about the book you’re reading, pressured into liking it?"
Yes, I do feel pressured to finish within a reasonable time and have been known to return a book unread when I know I can't finish it anytime soon.  I don't usually read books to "like" them, but to discuss them and the ideas in them.  So I feel no compunction about giving my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Library Loot ~ August 14-20

Part-Time Princess ~ by Deborah Underwood, 2013, children's
At night, a normal little girl imagines she is a princess, but not just a princess who wears pretty gowns and goes to balls.  She also gets to fight dragons and tame trolls.  But one morning she wakes up and begins to think maybe her royal adventures aren't so imaginary after all.
The Age of American Unreason ~ by Susan Jacoby, 2008, history (United States)
A cultural history of the last forty years, this book focuses on the convergence of social forces — usually treated as separate entities — that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism.  These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture.  Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.
The Expats ~ by Chris Pavone, 2012, fiction (Luxembourg)
In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, Kate Moore's days are filled with playdates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris and skiing in the Alps.  But Kate is also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret — one that's become so unbearable that it begins to unravel her newly established expat life.  She suspects that another American couple are not who they claim to be; her husband is acting suspiciously; and as she travels around Europe, she finds herself looking over her shoulder, increasingly terrified that her own past is catching up with her.   As Kate begins to dig, to uncover the secrets of the people around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage, and her life.
Cats Are Like That ~ by Martha Weston, 1999, early reader
Dot tries to get her new pet fish to do something interesting while she defends them from the hungry attention of her cat Fuzzy.
The Eternal Ones: What If Love Refused to Die? ~ by Kirsten Miller, 2010, fiction (New York), 7/10
Haven Moore has always lived in the town of Snope City, Tennessee. But for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance, whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in fiery tragedy.  One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to New York City to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is he her murderer from a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know whom to trust?
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages us to share titles of books we’ve checked out of the library.  Add your link any time during the week, and see what others got this week.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Mindfulness ~ eyes to see and ears to hear

"Your work is not to drag the world kicking and screaming into a new awareness.  Your job is to simply do your work ... sacredly, secretly, and silently ... and those with 'eyes to see and ears to hear' will respond."
— The Arcturians

I like these words and, needing something to post for today's Monday Mindfulness, decided to use it.  I couldn't quite read the attribution, so I enlarged it to its full magnification to find out who said that:  "The Arcturians."  Never heard of this group, so I googled it and learned:
"Arcturians were first mentioned by the prophet known as Edgar Cayce.  He predicted an advance civilization near the star Arcturus and today we know these benevolent beings as the race of Arcturians.  The star Arcturus is in the Bootes constellation and is home to the Arcturian Aliens."
Say what?  I'm quoting aliens?  How can that be?  "Eyes to see and ears to hear" sounds straight out of the Bible to me, including these and many similar lines.
Deuteronomy 29:4 ~ Moses said:  "But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear."
Ezekiel 12:2 ~ Ezekiel said:  "Mortal, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, who have ears to hear but do not hear."
Mark 8:18 ~ Jesus said to his disciples:  "Do you have eyes, and fail to see?  Do you have ears, and fail to hear?"
Romans 11:8 ~ Paul wrote:  "God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day."
So what does the saying mean?  I can hear it now:  "This is all new-age stuff."  It doesn't matter.  I'm sure no one can drag anyone else into new awareness.  Using my own eyes to see and my own ears to hear, I'll simply do what I can — "sacredly, secretly, and silently" — to enlighten myself and others.

Hmm, how can it be "silently" if I post my musings on my blog?  How can it be "secretly" when my blog is open to the whole world?  Maybe this post will be meaningless, if you don't have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Salon ~ my quantum leap to Nantucket

Nantucket — both the town and the island — is absolutely one of the characters of this novel.  As a matter of fact, the "island girls" in the story didn't provide much drama and the story was wrapped up a little too neatly — everyone lived happily ever after.  Well, not exactly, but it almost seemed that way.  Nantucket, on the other hand, was fascinating.  Enough so, at some point I used Google maps to see if there really was a Lily Street in that town.  Yep, the house where the action takes place is on a real street.
"A storybook house.  A house with many stories" (p. 10).
When I googled it, I discovered the street is so narrow that it's a one-way street.  That doesn't matter so much when most of the time the characters walked wherever they were going.  Occasionally they rode a bike.  And only two cars could fit in their short driveway.  I "walked" up and down Lily Street and could see the limited parking situation.

Several times, characters chose NOT to wear shoes with heels because of the streets.  While exploring Nantucket online, I ran across a Wikipedia article that had this photo (and the satellite image above).  Notice Main Street's cobblestones.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.  In the novel, there's a bookstore in town.  I didn't search to see if it's real.
"They wandered into Bookworks and spent a long time browsing" (p. 247).
They lived on Lily Street and walked to places like Easy Street. I googled it and discovered that's only a half mile walk.  Puts things in perspective, doesn't it.  When I zoomed in to street level on Easy Street, I found myself looking out over a white picket fence at the boats anchored in the harbor.  A couple was standing there in front of me (I was, apparently, standing out in middle of the narrow one-way street).  Nearby was a dark-green bench where I could sit to enjoy the view.  What fun!
"Randall Real Estate was located in a small brick building on Easy Street, facing the harbor" (p. 258).
On my way back to Lily Street (via Google Map, of course), I took another route and discovered the six-columned, white building of the United Methodist Church.  No, it wasn't mentioned in the book, but I'm a retired United Methodist pastor, so I was happy to see the place.  And I highly recommend using Google maps to see where your novels and memoirs take place.  Want to know how it felt?  Like Sam Beckett "leaping" from one time-place to another time-place in the old Quantum Leap television series.  I first felt that when I realized I had "arrived" behind that couple looking out over the harbor.  I also expected them to turn around and ask me, "Where'd you come from?"

Island Girls ~ by Nancy Thayer, 2013, fiction (Massachusetts), 8/10.
To read more about the novel itself, read my Library Loot post.

Cross-posted on my Book Around the States blog, where we're reading books from all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia (Washington, DC).
The Sunday Salon's Facebook page has links to other blogs.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Beginning ~ with Adam hiding

Map of the Invisible World ~ by Tash Aw, 2010, fiction (Indonesia)
"When it finally happened, there was no violence, hardly any drama.  It was over very quickly, and then Adam found himself alone once more.  Hiding in the deep shade of the bushes, this is what he saw."
Those opening lines make me wonder what it was that he saw.  The next paragraph tells me he saw soldiers, but they were "just kids, Adam thought, just like me, only with guns."  So Adam was hiding, children are soldiers (but not playing), and Adam was hiding.  Why?  What's going on?  When I got this book from the library, I gave this summary:
This novel evokes an exotic yet turbulent place and time — 1960s Indonesia during President Sukarno’s drive to purge the country of its colonial past.  The story follows the journeys of two brothers and an American woman who are indelibly marked by the past — and swept up in the tides of history.

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Library Loot ~ August 7-13

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale ~ by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, illustrated by Barry Moser, 2011, children's chapter book
A community of mice and a cheese-loving cat form an unliikely alliance at London's Cheshire Cheese, an inn where Charles Dickens finds inspiration and Queen Victoria makes an unexpected appearance.
Island Girls ~ by Nancy Thayer, 2013, fiction
Charming ladies’ man Rory Randall dies with one last trick up his sleeve:  His will includes a calculating clause mandating a summer-long reunion for his daughters, all from different marriages — that is, if they hope to inherit his posh Nantucket house.  Relations among the three sisters are sour thanks to long-festering jealousies, resentments, and misunderstandings.  Arden, a successful television host in Boston, hasn’t been back to the island since her teenage years, when accusations of serious misbehavior led to her banishment.  College professor Meg hopes to use her summer to finish a literary biography and avoid an amorous colleague.  And secretive Jenny, an IT specialist, faces troubling questions about her identity while longing for her sisters’ acceptance.  To their surprise, the three young women find their newfound sisterhood easier to trust than the men who show up to complicate their lives.  And if that weren’t problematic enough, their mothers descend on the island.  When yet another visitor drops by the house with shocking news, the past comes screaming back with a vengeance.  Having all the women from his life under his seaside roof — and overseeing the subsequent drama of that perfect storm — Rory Randall might just be enjoying a hearty laugh from above.
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages us to share titles of books we’ve checked out of the library.  Add your link any time during the week, and see what others got this week.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Salon ~ she's a crone!

Crones Don't Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women ~ by Jean Shinoda Bolen, 2003, psychology, 8/10
"To be a crone is about inner development, not outer appearance.  A crone is a woman who has wisdom, compassion, humor, courage, and vitality.  She has a sense of truly being herself, can express what she knows and feels, and take action when need be.  She does not avert her eyes or numb her mind from reality.  She can see the flaws and imperfections in herself and others, but the light in which she sees is not harsh and judgmental.  She has learned to trust herself to know what she knows" (p. 4).
Some women now have "croning" ceremonies as a rite of passage into a time of wisdom, freedom, and personal power.  These women don't mind — in this age of glorifying callow youth — admitting they have lived fifty, sixty, seventy years.  Rather, we are claiming every one of those years we've lived.  My croning came at the age of 62, though the number of years is not really what matters.  Some choose the time of menopause, retirement, or a meaningful birthday — like the 60th.  It's about what a woman wants to do with this season of her life.
"If you love gardening (or anything that you do that engages your soul), you lose track of time and are absorbed in the present moment.  That very quality distinguishes that which feeds you or gives you energy from that which depletes you.  One person's onerous task is another person's joy" (p. 24).
I've written about crones several times before today:
Maid, Mother, Crone
Outrageous Older Woman
Wise Old Woman
Five Senses? Six? Seven?
The Mists of Avalon
Library Loot ~ when I borrowed this book
So what's it like, being a crone?  Jean Shinoda Bolen gives us some clues:
  • "A woman who heeds the inner crone can be politely rude, saying 'No, thank you,' without listening further, and hang up on a caller" (p. 30).
  • "Among indigenous peoples, 'grandmother' is a title of respect for an older woman in a society that had councils of wisewomen elders, women beyond childbearing years whose own children were grown, and whose maternal concern was now for all the children of the tribe and for generations to come" (p. 43).
  • "A crone is a woman who has found her voice" (p. 41).
  • "If we acquire a crone's-eye view, then we will see ourselves and others from the perspective of soul rather than ego" (p. 7).
  • "Long before the gurus came with mantras and meditation, women in training to be crones as well as crones themselves found time and ways to meditate.  It may have been called 'washing the dishes and staring out the window,' or 'folding laundry and thinking,' or 'daydreaming,' or 'doing nothing' " (p. 35).
  • "When you find the courage to speak the truth, you begin to liberate yourself from the past that otherwise holds you hostage.  Crones are in the habit of speaking the truth" (p. 61).
  • "When women come together and make a commitment to each other to be in a circle, especially one with a spiritual center, they are creating a vessel of transformation for themselves, and a vehicle for change in their world" (pp. 101-102).
  • "The wisdom of the inner crone is knowing when to speak and what to say" (p. 54).
  • "The suffering of others or the feeling of Enough is enough! radicalizes older women" (p. 42).
  • "Truth is, she does not exactly reinvent herself intentionally; rather she is improvising, adapting to change, responding to what engages her energy" (pp. 72-73).
  • in the absence of such women, crone wisdom has been so far represented by exceptional men who are crones, such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Jimmy Carter" (p. 100).
This is what I've been reading this weekend.  What about you?

The Sunday Salon's Facebook page has links to other blogs.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Five ~ quiet time

Rev. Pat Raube brings us today's topic from RevGalBlogPals:
"Our Friday Five is very simple today.  Share five ways you've learned to care for yourself when life becomes overwhelming.  What does the pastor do after a rough day in the office, or at meetings, or at a bedside, or even, in the pulpit?  Share your best five self-care strategies, and, with any luck, we all will learn at least one or two new ones."
1.  Time alone is especially necessary for an introvert.  I like to find a quiet place where I can escape into a good book.  It can be fiction or nonfiction, as long as it totally engages my attention.  That means serious study that intrigues me also renews my spirit.  My favorite caring-for-self that I've read today is from Tiffany, who wrote:
"As an Introvert on the MBTI (INTJ), I need LOTS of what I like to call Tiffy Time.  Therefore I’m always looking at my calendar and making sure I’ve booked some in.  I have no problem saying, 'I’m not available at that time,' even if the calendar is blank.  I’m not available BECAUSE the calendar is blank."
Perfect!  I had to learn to schedule "me-time" on my calendar.  I'm also INTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and have been known to do the same thing.  When I need to, I can say, "I already have something scheduled for that day" (or time) — because I do.

2.  Playing the piano is a form of meditation for me.  I can pound out a loud melody to rid myself of anger and frustration, let my fingers dance to a playful tune when I'm down, or express something in a minor key when I'm feeling pensive.

3.  Sitting outside, listening to birds (and distant traffic?) can be a time of meditation.  In other words, I try to be mindful, as the Buddhists say.  I pay close attention to something I see or hear:  ants crawling over a crumb someone dropped, birds calling back and forth to each other, the brilliant color of a nearby flower as it sways in the slight breeze, the way shadows fall on the things around me.  I am most relaxed when I center myself in the moment and become present to myself and my world.

4.  Laughter is always good.  Do you remember that Abraham and Sarah laughed when told they'd be parents?  (Yes, they BOTH laughed — see Genesis 17:17 and 18:12.)  They named their son Isaac, whose name means laughter.  Buechner wrote a book about Jacob, son of Isaac, and called it.....
Son of Laughter by Frederick Buechner, 1993
And Norman Cousins laughed away his illness.  Though I read this book more than three decades ago, it made such an impact on me that I still tell people about it.  I even bought another copy of it.
Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins, 1979
Told that he had little chance of surviving, Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating megadoses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.  "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep," he reported.  "When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval."  (from Wikipedia)
5.  As a Wordsmith, I enjoy playing with words — and even have a separate blog just to explore words in a playful way.  Joyful Noiseletter is "an exuberant newsletter to myself about joyful things, like words, which I enjoy."  And sometimes, this overlaps with #4, when I laugh at word jokes and cartoons.  Surely preachers will enjoy the "syn-sin" cartoon, right?  Today I learned about Mount Washmore.
Mary Beth says her "laundry goes un-noticed even when I am tripping over Mount Washmore."

Beginning ~ with creation

The Genesis Enigma: Why the First Book of the Bible Is Scientifically Accurate ~ by Andrew Parker, 2009.  Here are the first two paragraphs:
It has been said many times, by rational people who believe in God, that the truth of the stories in the book of Genesis is not to be measured by their agreement with the facts of modern astronomy and biology.  Rather, it is argued, their truth is bound up with their effectiveness in explaining for the Old Testament writers the origin and destiny of the world and humanity in the light of their belief in God.  In other words, the creation account at the beginning of Genesis helped the ancient Israelites who produced it to cope with and understand their world.  In some way, this story of how they and their world came about satisfied their inner consciousness.  But no one in more recent times would ever have considered that this creation account could be scientifically accurate, which is why modern theologians have felt compelled to arm themselves for debate with the rationalization above.

Things may be about to change.
When I taught religions of the world in the 1990s, I would tell my students — who wanted to argue about creation — that the Bible's creation sequence seemed to me to line up perfectly with the theory of evolution.  First came light, even before the sun was created, and that could be explained by the big bang.  Can't you see the "light" of an explosion?  Next, there were waters under the "dome" of sky.  Check, watery atmosphere in place.  Then dry land was separated from the waters, and things started growing on the land.  At this point, halfway through the description of creation, sun and moon and stars are noticed — though it's already the fourth "day" of creation.  Next come swarms of creatures in the seas and birds in the air, and finally all the creeping things and wild animals appeared, with humans arriving last.  Sounds like a description of evolution to me.

So I'm curious about what Andrew Parker has to say about the creation story of the Bible being scientifically accurate.  The very next sentence, after what I quoted above, says:
In this book I will be arguing that the latest understanding of how the world and all life on it came to develop and evolve, as demonstrated by solid, evidence-based science, reflects exactly the order of events as set out in Genesis.
Okay, show me.

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