Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ pink, poetry, and a passel of books

This is how my great-granddaughter "does" Saturday morning cartoons.  See if you can find anything pink in her room.

from A Thousand Mornings: Poems, 2012
"After I Fall Down the Stairs at the Golden Temple"
by Mary Oliver

For a while I could not remember some word I was in need of,
and I was bereaved and said:
where are you, beloved friend

This morning, I'll be sharing some of my books with my Sunday school class, which is studying early Christianity.  We are working our way through the book Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity, by James D. Tabor (2012), which discusses the biblical books of James and Jude — who were brothers of Jesus as well as the Nag Hammadi texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Q source (from the German word Quelle, meaning "source").

PAPYRUS CODICES (bound books, not scrolls) were found in 1945,  buried near the city of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt.  The Nag Hammadi texts, often referred to as gnostic texts, include the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary (Magdalene).
The Nag Hammadi Scriptures ~ edited by Marvin Meyer, 2007
The Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version ~ ed. by Robert J. Miller, 1994
The Gnostic Gospels ~ by Elaine Pagels, 1979
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas ~ by Elaine Pagels, 2003
The Gospel of Thomas: Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus ~ by John Dart and Ray Riegert, 2000
The Gospel of Thomas ~ translated by Jean-Yves Leloup, 2002
The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle ~ by Karen L. King, 2003
The Gospels of Mary: The Secret Tradition of Mary Magdalene, the Companion of Jesus ~ by Marvin Meyer, 2004
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene ~ by Jean-Yves Leloup, 1997 (English translation, 2002)
The Gospel of the Beloved Disciple ~ by James P. Carse, 1997
Mary Magdalene, the First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority ~ by Ann Graham Brock, 2003
The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus: The Definitive Collection of Mystical Gospels and Secret Books about Jesus of Nazareth ~ by Marvin Meyer, 2005
The Other Gospels: Non-Canonical Gospel Texts ~ edited by Ron Cameron, 1982
SCROLLS were found in 1947 in caves near Qumran by the Dead Sea in what is now Israel.  They were rolled up inside earthen jars, like the one below.
The Dead Sea Scrolls ~ by Millar Burrows, 1955
Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls ~ by Harvey Minkoff, 1998
Q (from QUELLE, meaning "source")
The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins ~ by Burton L. Mack, 1993
Bloggers get together in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about reading.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Caturday ~ cat resumes

I've seen a lots of photos of cats reading.

I have even snapped several of my Kiki reading.

Kiki read so she could review books.

But here's one that's new to me — a cat who sews.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Beginning ~ with a lost book

The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins ~ by Burton L. Mack, 1993
Once upon a time, before there were gospels of the kind familar to readers of the New Testament, the first followers of Jesus wrote another kind of book.  Instead of telling a dramatic story about Jesus' life, their book contained only his teachings.  They lived with these teachings ringing in their ears and thought of Jesus as the founder of their movement.  But their focus was not on the person of Jesus or his life and destiny.  They were engrossed with the social program that was called for by his teachings.  Thus their book was not a gospel of the Christian kind, namely a narrative of the life of Jesus as the Christ.  Rather it was a gospel of Jesus' sayings, a "sayings gospel."  His first followers arranged these sayings in a way that offered instruction for living creatively in the midst of a most confusing time, and their book served them well as a handbook and guide for most of the first Christian century.

Then the book was lost.
According to Wikipedia, "The Lost Gospel develops the hypothesis of the 'Q' source for the common material of Luke and Matthew not found in Mark.  Mack develops the thesis that this was the earliest writing about Jesus, developed over decades by a community which he describes with unwavering confidence."  At the bottom of the first page of this book is this sentence:
"It makes some difference whether the founder of a movement is remembered for his teachings, or for his deeds and destiny."
So which is it?  Is Jesus a wisdom teacher, who wanted us to make this a better world by following his social program and loving one another?  Or did Jesus want us to worship him?

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Thoughts ~ library vs. bookstore

Ashley at OK, Let’s Read has started a new weekly meme called Thursday Thoughts.  The questions are available in advance, and she has ten weekly topics already set.  I'm sorry I missed her first ever post, last Thursday, but luckily for me, it's still open for another 23 days + 12 hours.  So it's the one I choose to discuss today.
March 20: Library vs. Bookstore Do you go to the library or the bookstore more often?  Do you prefer one over the other and why?  When it comes to bookstores, do you prefer chain stores or used book stores?  Do you care about the condition of a book you purchase?  Do you ever buy used/scratch and dent?
Northgate is the nearest branch of the Chattanooga library and where I normally pick up books I reserve online.  I took this photo on a windy day in October 2012.  Most of the librarians know me, since I'm in there a lot.  When my roommate Donna picked up my books on hold one day, the person waiting on her said, "You're not Bonnie"  No, but she had my card so we didn't both have to run that errand.  When I lived near the South Chattanooga branch, I was a volunteer on the days when somebody was on vacation or had a doctor's appointment.  I'm often in libraries.

My thinking is that I buy books I know I want to keep, sometimes after reading the library copy.  Then I buy from a bookstore or online.  I read a lot.  Books I keep are usually related to my teaching and nonfiction interests.  I don't collect fiction, so that is usually from the library.  Books I'll use this week when I teach Sunday school are ones I own, all nonfiction:
  • Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity ~ by James D. Tabor, 2012
  • The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity ~ by Jeffrey J. Butz, 2005
  • The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins ~ by Burton L. Mack, 1993
The books I've been reading "for fun and relaxation" are novels:
  • Life After Life ~ by Kate Atkinson, 2013, fiction (England)
  • Still Life with Bread Crumbs ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2014, fiction (New York)
  • The Book of Jonah ~ by Joshua Max Feldman, 2014, fiction (New York)
And the book from the library that's nonfiction is one I haven't yet decided whether I want to buy and keep or simply read once and return to the library.
  • The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image ~ by Leonard Shlain, 1998
Speaking of bookstores, the question shouldn't be "do you prefer chain stores or used book stores?"  What about independent bookstores, often called "indies" by book bloggers?  In 2004, my friend Donna and I opened a store selling mostly used books, so I definitely have no problem with used books in good condition.  I'm especially excited when I find a "pre-owned" copy of a book I want that is out of print and, thus, unavailable.  (Don't you hate euphemisms like "pre-owned"?  I think used car salesmen came up with that.)  My favorite store to browse is McKay's, a large used bookstore across town from me.

To sum it up, I equally value libraries and bookstores, both brick-and-mortar stores and online stores.  I use both as often as possible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rating the books I read

Joy of Joy's Book Blog was featured on Book Blogger International last week.  One sentence made me update my rating system:  "Rather than rate books that I review, I think about the appeal of the book for different types of readers."  Here's what I added to my book rating guide last night:
Updated 3-24-14 to add one caveat:  These numbers from 2008 are all based on how much I personally enjoyed the book.  I can't judge for anyone else, so my ratings are completely subjective.  As a matter of fact, if I re-read a book, my opinion may very well change, based on what's going on in my life at that point.
Do you rate the books you read?  Do you have a rating system?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Flip the script

Getting rid of negativity may be this simple.   I'm going to try it.  "When a negative thought enters your mind, think three positive ones.  Train yourself to flip the script!"  Are you up for the challenge?

Monday Mindfulness ~ the Mexican fisherman

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village.  An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife.  In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few laughs, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  You can then sell the extra fish you catch.  With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.  Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.  You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City , Los Angeles , or even New York City!  From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards?  Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing.  "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions?  Really?  And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings laughing and enjoying your friends."

And the moral of this story is:
Know where you're going in life. You may already be there!
A friend emailed me this last Monday, and here's another version of the story I found online.  Google "Mexican fisherman," and you'll find several more versions.  One dated back five years, so I may be the last person on earth to hear this story.  Anyway, it says to me "pay attention" to your life.  In other words, be mindful.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ reading personality

Photo source
Reading Personality Quiz

I took this reading personality quiz today, that I found in a guest feature by Joy Weese Moll of Joy's Book Blog.  And I learned that my reading personality includes all the others:  The All-Rounder.  "Your responses showed you fitting equally into all four reading personalities," I was told.  (For the record, Joy's reading personality is Eclectic Reader, which is perfect, since she's a librarian.)
  • Involved Reader:  You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books.   For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others.
  • Exacting Reader:  You love books, but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like so you're very particular about the books you choose.
  • Serial Reader:  Once you discover a favorite writer you tend to stick with him or her through thick and thin.
  • Eclectic Reader:  You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind.   You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.
If you would like to find out YOUR reading personality, click this link to take the quiz.


The Book of Jonah ~ by Joshua Max Feldman, 2014, fiction (New York)
The modern-day Jonah at the center of this brilliantly conceived retelling of the book of Jonah is a young Manhattan lawyer named Jonah Jacobstein.  He’s a lucky man:  healthy and handsome, with two beautiful women ready to spend the rest of their lives with him and an enormously successful career that gets more promising by the minute.  He’s celebrating a deal that will surely make him partner when a bizarre, unexpected biblical vision at a party changes everything.  Hard as he tries to forget what he saw, this disturbing sign is only the first of many Jonah will witness, and before long his life is unrecognizable.  Though this perhaps divine intervention will be responsible for more than one irreversible loss in Jonah’s life, it will also cross his path with that of Judith Bulbrook, an intense, breathtakingly intelligent woman who’s no stranger to loss herself.  As this funny and bold novel moves to Amsterdam and then Las Vegas, Feldman examines the way we live now while asking an age-old question:  How do you know if you’re chosen?
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image ~ by Leonard Shlain, 1998
The process of learning alphabetic literacy rewired the human brain, with profound consequences for culture.  Making connections across a wide range of subjects including brain function, anthropology, history, and religion, Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain's linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one.  This shift upset the balance between men and women initiating the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, and — in literacy's early stages — the decline of women's political status.  Patriarchy and misogyny followed.  Shlain contrasts the feminine right-brained oral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus with the masculine creeds that evolved when their spoken words were committed to writing.  The first book written in an alphabet was the Old Testament, and its most important passage was the Ten Commandments.  The first two commandments reject any goddess influence and ban any form of representative art.  Shlain goes on to describe the colossal shift he calls the Iconic Revolution, that began in the 19th century.  The invention of photography and the discovery of electromagnetism combined to bring us film, television, computers, and graphic advertising; all of which are based on images.  Shlain foresees that increasing reliance on right brain pattern recognition instead of left brain linear sequence will move culture toward equilibrium between the two hemispheres, between masculine and feminine, between word and image.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2014, fiction
I'm enjoying reading about photographer Rebecca Winter, who is living in the middle of nowhere and trying to make enough to cover the bills.
Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity ~ by James D. Tabor, 2012
The Seekers class at my church is reading this one together.  I taught from chapter one this morning and will probably lead the discussion again next week.
Bloggers get together in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about reading.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Caturday — right?

It's Caturday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Beginning ~ with the female, not the male

The Women's History of the World ~ by Rosalind Miles, 1988 (the later US edition is entitled Who Cooked The Last Supper?)
The story of the human race begins with the female.  Woman carried the original human chromosome as she does to this day; her evolutionary adaptation ensured the survival and success of the species; her work of mothering provided the cerebral spur for human communication aned social organization.  Yet for generations of historians, archaeologistsz, anthropologists and biologists, the sole star of the dawn story has been man.  Man the Hunter, man the tool-maker, man the lord of creation stalks the primeval savannah in solitary splendor through every known version of the origin of our species.  In reality, however, woman was quietly getting on with the task of securing a future for humanity -- for it was her labor, her skills, her biology that held the key to the destiny of the race.

For, as scientists acknowledge, "women are the race itself, the strong primary sex, and man the biological afterthought" [quoting Elizabeth Gould Davis, The First Sex (1970), pp. 34-35].  In human cell structure, woman's is the basic "X" chromosome; a female baby simply collects another "X" at the moment of conception, while the creation of a male requires the branching off of the divergent "Y" chromosome seen by some as a genetic error, a "deformed and broken X."  The woman's egg, several hundred times bigger than the sperm that fertilizes it, carries all the genetic messages the child will ever receive.  Women therefore are the original, the first sex, the biological norm from which males are only a deviation.
Interesting.  So why do men dominate history?  Because they're the ones who wrote history.  I'm curious about what Rosalind Miles has to say.  The first three chapters of the dozen in this book are (1) "The First Women," (2) "The Great Goddess," and (3) "The Rise of the Phallus."  Sounds like fun to me.

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

Friday Five ~ trips

This week's Friday Five is brought to us by Janintx @ RevGalBlogPals:
"Last week and this week, I am driving long distances in Texas, first to Houston and today to Austin from Corpus Christi:  both times to meet relatives from Canada flying here.  This makes me think of trips taken in my life:  vacation, moving, visiting relatives, visiting friends, seeking a new home, going away to school, and probably many more.  For today’s Friday Five, tell about five different trips you have made in your life due to different reasons, modes of travel, or whatever category you choose!  Since I will be traveling, I will check in on your 'travels' when I reach my destination.  Happy and safe travels!"
1.  Vicarious trip
My roommate Donna is traveling to St. Louis right now.  She left Chattanooga Thursday afternoon and drove about halfway before stopping at a motel for the night.  When she called to tell me where she was staying, I was on my laptop and used Google to pinpoint the location and even tell her what restaurants were around her!  I told her about a lake behind her motel, which she hadn't noticed.  Looking out her window, she could see it.  We live in an amazing and mind-bending time.
2.  Bookish trip
Last August, I was reading a novel set on Nantucket Island.  Never having been there, I googled both maps and photos of the place.  Mostly I wondered if there really was a Lily Street in the town within walking distance of a street called Easy Street.  There is, and I discovered that's only a half mile walk from Lily Street.  It made what I was reading more real, and I've done the same thing with other books occasionally since then.  Click the link to see why I felt like Sam Beckett, "leaping" from one time-place to another.
3.  Curb trip
In December 2012, I managed to trip on my way into a restaurant and landed on my right elbow.  Do you have any idea what that does to one's shoulder?  My next trip was in an ambulance to the nearest hospital, a mere mile away but costing over $1100.  See my "vacation photos" from that "trip" and a short explanation of the photos I took (even doing it all with my left hand).
4.  Trip to Florida
When I was seven and had just started the second grade in the autumn of 1947, my Aunt Bonnie took me on a train to Florida.  I felt "sea sick" from the rocking train and was taken to the dining car to suck on a lemon.  I remember "Flagler," but can't tell you if it was the name of the train or the destination.  A recent hurricane had hit Florida, and strong winds pelted sand into my skinny bare legs something fierce when we went out on the beach.  We spent most of our time inside the tourist home, playing games.
5.  Trip above the clouds
Flying to Connecticut in 2001, all I could see of New York City out the left window was the tops of the Twin Towers sticking up above the clouds into the open skies where my plane was.  That trip was the last time I saw the towers, since they fell in September of that year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday tea time

"transcendental caffeination"

I read those words somewhere the other day and have thought about what they could mean.  Technically, "caffeination" is not a word, but I like this play on the idea of Trancendental Meditation.  Imagine hot tea and meditation.  Kind of like the calming aspects of meditation while getting revved up with caffeine.

Or maybe sipping iced tea while relaxing from a day filled with conflicts.  Take a deep breath.  Breathe in, breath out.

Trying to be mindful here.  Ommmm.  Excuse me while I transcend my daily busy-ness.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Mindfulness ~ compassion for yourself

Today I'm thinking about compassion, specifically compassion for ourselves.  Here are some questions that arise from reading Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.  How would you answer any (or all) of these questions?


1. How has a lack of self-compassion affected your life?  When are you least compassionate toward yourself?  What traits do you most criticize yourself for?

2.  We are all imperfect.  We are all influenced by our reptilian brain that reacts instinctively to real or imagined threats and can cause us to behave badly.  We are all influenced by environmental factors that affect our behavior toward others.  And we all have a "dark side" (pp. 78-79).  How does knowing this help or hinder your ability to cultivate and practice compassion?

3.  Armstrong discusses how suffering is a part of life, yet "in the West we are often encouraged to think positively, brace up, stiffen our upper lip, and look determinedly on the bright side of life" (p. 81).  Think about your experience navigating a difficult or tragic time in your life.  What would have been most helpful to you at that time?  How important was having someone just listen to or be with you?  What is your experience offering help to others in difficult times?  What helps or hinders you from being fully present when those around you face difficulties?

4.  "When people attack us, they are probably experiencing a similar self-driven anxiety and frustration; they too are in pain.  In time, if we persevere, the people we fear or envy become less threatening, because the self that we are so anxious to protect and promote at their expense is a fantasy that is making us petty and smaller than we need to be" (p. 88).  What does it mean to remove yourself from the center of your world?


1. Make a list of your positive qualities, good deeds, talents, and achievements.

2.  Our own suffering often increases our compassion for others.  Acknowledge the difficulties and suffering you've endured and how you used or might use your experience to help others.  For instance, if you've experienced a serious illness or took care of someone who did, consider volunteering to help others navigate a similar circumstance.

3.  Practice the Buddha's meditation on the four immeasurable minds of love, on pages 84-85.
"...while he was working toward enlightenment, the Buddha devised a meditation that made him conscious of the positive emotions of friendship (maitri), compassion (karuna), joy (mudita), and 'even-mindedness' (upeksha) that lay dormant in his mind.  He then directed this 'immeasurable' love to the ends of the earth."
4.  Visit and make a commitment to compassion — perhaps self-compassion.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ piano edition

Emily playing the Baldwin piano at her house on 3-15-14
Living in an apartment means it's hard to find a good time to play the piano.  It can disturb my neighbors, and it's so heavy to move that my son's friend Adam who helped move me more than once told me that my son had said, "If Mom moves again, this piano is kindling."  It's a joke, people, but there's truth in it.  Therefore, I gave my piano to my friend Emily.  She's one of my support-group friends who helped me when I had heart bypass surgery.  She's a friend who drives miles so we can meet for lunch.  She's now sitting at my er, her piano at her house.  My idea is that it would make much more sense for me to buy an electronic keyboard so I can play to my heart's content, listening to the music through plugged-in earphones.  And Emily can enjoy the piano I bought back in 1968.  Something that has been a joy to me for 46 years will be another family's joy for years to come.  For example, Emily wrote that her daughter and grandson "are here this weekend and they brought their fiddles.  I am enjoying being able to play music with them."

Bonnie playing the Baldwin piano on 4-10-10 (left) and on 3-13-14 (right), in two different apartments.



Still Life with Bread Crumbs ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2014, fiction
This novel begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof.  Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women.  Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere.  There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.  This is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.  Joanna Rakoff wrote for the New York Times Book Review that this is "a feminist novel for a post-feminist age."

Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity ~ by James D. Tabor, 2012, religion
This fascinating examination of the earliest years of Christianity reveals sharply competing ideas about the significance of Jesus and his teachings and shows how the man we call St. Paul shaped Christianity as we know it today.  Historians know virtually nothing about the two decades following the crucifixion of Jesus, when his followers regrouped and began to spread his message.  During this time the man we know as the apostle Paul joined the movement and began to preach to the gentiles.  Using the oldest Christian documents that we have — the letters of Paul — as well as other early Christian sources, historian and scholar James Tabor reconstructs the origins of Christianity.  Tabor reveals that the familiar figures of James, Peter, and Paul sometimes disagreed fiercely over everything from the meaning of Jesus's message to the question of whether converts must first become Jews.  Tabor shows how Paul separated himself from Peter and James and introduced his own version of Christianity, which would continue to develop independently of the gospel message that Jesus, James, and Peter preached.  This book gives us a new and deeper understanding of Paul as it illuminates the fascinating period of history when Christianity was born out of Judaism and became the religion we recognize today.

Life After Life ~ by Kate Atkinson, 2013, fiction
(Click this link to read what I wrote about this novel on Wednesday.)

Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1995, religion, 7/10
Quote:  "You can touch the ultimate dimension right now by breathing, walking, and drinking your tea in mindfulness" (p. 152).
From The Sunday Salon's original website:

"Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together — at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones — and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Caturday ~ Aunty Acid and her cats

I could say the same thing (and I think I will):  "I've forgotten some of the men in my life, but I remember ALL the cats."  (Thinking of you, Kiki.)
Kiki on January 19, 2012

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Five ~ green and evolving

RevKarla @ RevGalBlogPals brings us today's "theme-less" Friday Five:  "Hi gals and pals ~~ Happy Friday to you!  I don’t have a theme this week, but just a variety of questions for your writing pleasure … Have fun!"

1)  How are you?  What’s taking up your mind-heart space these days?
I've been de-cluttering by packing up books and taking them to the used book store for cash and/or trade.  The trick is to come home without picking up MORE books.  Slowly, slowly, my apartment is looking less cluttered.
2)  It’s St. Patrick’s Day on Monday ~~ will you celebrate or give a nod to it?
I noticed my shamrock-green tee-shirt hanging in the closet the other day, the one I wear on March 17th — and sometimes other days of the year.  Yep, I'll wear it again this Monday.  As a wordsmith with ancestors from the emerald isle, I usually tell people that "I speak fluent blarney."
3)  My colleague is a voracious morning reader of blogs, online news, articles, etc.  What, besides RevGalBlogPals, do you look at frequently, if not daily?
I have a blog list on the sidebar (look over to the right).  That's where I list blogs I regularly read and add new possibilities all the time.  I only read the ones that appeal to me on a particular day, so when I notice I haven't been reading one lately at all I simply delete it from the sidebar.  It's an evolving list.
4)  I got nothin’ here.  This is a free for all.  Just tell us something!
Something.  Oh, right, SOMEthing.  I didn't see this Friday Five prompt until late in the day, which is why I'm posting it so late tonight.
5)  Use these words in a sentence or two:  map, magazine, sing, baby sloth, knit, penguin, love, weep, mountain, and messenger bag.
The magazine article detailed how to knit a cute penguin or a baby sloth to attach to my messenger bag.  Before we map out our trip, I'd love to tell you to sing my praises, but the resulting big brown blob of yarn was more like a shapeless mountain and would make you weep.

Beginning ~ with a bachelor breakfast

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern ~ by Lilian Jackson Braun, 1967, mystery
Jim Qwilleran prepared his bachelor breakfast with a look of boredom and distaste, accentuated by the down-curve of his bushy moustache.  Using hot water from the tap, he made a cup of instant coffee with brown lumps floating on the surface.  He dredged a doughnut from a crumb-filled canister that was beginning to smell musty.  Then he spread a paper napkin on a table in a side window where the urban sun, filtered through smog, emphasized the bleakness of the furnished apartment. Here Qwilleran ate his breakfast without tasting it, and considered his four problems:
Yes, I did decide to end the quote without sharing Qwilleran's four problems.  Yes, it ends with a colon, instead of a period.  Yes, I'm curious enough to keep reading until I met the Siamese cat named Koko.  I haven't read a mystery in ages, and this small book looks like one I'd like, especially since it has only 192 pages.  By the way, the cover I've shown you above is not the one on my book, which features a small handgun and blood a cat has apparently walked through.  I like the cat on this cover better.

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Library Loot ~ March 12 to 18

Life After Life ~ by Kate Atkinson, 2013, fiction
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?  On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife.  She dies before she can draw her first breath.  On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual.  For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.  Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny?  And if she can will she?

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Mindfulness ~ four pebble meditation

Photo by Ginnie Sams
This meditation, which I found on a blog post from 2010, was adapted fromThich Nhat Hanh’s LivingWithout Stress or Fear.  The idea is to gather four different pebbles to represent "distinct aspects of your true nature to live in happiness and free of fear and suffering.  The first pebble shall represent a flower; the second a mountain; the third, still water; and the fourth, space."  The whole meditation can be found here, but today I want to focus on what each pebble represents.
flower ~ represents freshness
mountain ~ think of solidity
still water ~ is about reflection
space ~ equals having freedom
Pick up the first pebble and visualize it as a flower.  As a matter of fact, see yourself as a flower and feel fresh as you breathe in and out three times.  Become fully a flower, as much as you are able, again.  I think I'll imagine myself like those jonquils above, which are growing now at my friend Ginnie's house.

The second pebble serves as your mountain. See yourself as a mountain and feel solid.  We can be solid because there’s a mountain inside each of us.  Think of yourself as solid, stable, and steadfast in spite of any mental or emotional winds.  It's possible to stand confident and unmovable like a mountain.  See the strong stones behind the jonquils — Ginnie lives on the top edge of a mountain.

Pick up the third pebble and visualize it as still water.  Reflect on things as they truly are, and feel calm.  Don't let anger, jealousy, or fear bring turbulence to inner waters.  Cultivate peace of mind by being calm.

The fourth pebble represents space.  Feel free by freeing up space and emptiness.  With freedom and space, there's room for happiness.

This YouTube presented by Plum Village brother Thay Phap Huu remind us of our flower freshness, mountain solidity, calm water clarity, and spacious freedom ("Pebble for your pocket meditation," YouTube, 6:22 minutes).  Ha!  The video even shows jonquils like Ginnie's.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ what's up?



The Invention of Wings ~ by Sue Monk Kidd, 2014, fiction (South Carolina), 10/10
I told you about this one when I got it from the library, so click the title to read about it.  The story was inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, an abolitionist.  This isn't a review, but I rate the book 10 of 10, my highest rating.  Some of the women from my church met Saturday morning to start a book club, and I praised not only this book, but the author.  I also especially like her The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (nonfiction) and The Secret Life of Bees, her highly acclaimed novel (which I also rated 10 of 10).

The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic ~ by John Shelby Spong, 2013, religion
I'm studying this one with a clergywomen's group on Facebook, and I'm already way behind in my reading.  I should focus on one thing or the other, but I'm studying with too many groups of people!  Like the next book.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2010
The goal of this study is not to "learn about" compassion, but to PRACTICE compassion.  Karen Armstrong shares concrete methods to help us cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion and provides a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.”  She teaches us that becoming a compassionate human being is a lifelong project and a journey filled with rewards.

Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, introduction by Elaine Pagels, 1995, religion
I never finished it when I started in 2012, and now it fits in with my Monday Mindfulness posts on this blog and with my study of compassion with Book Buddies during all of 2014 (as I mentioned above).  I'll probably quote from this book a time or two, possibly even tomorrow.

I'm "working on" a couple of challenges, sort of.  The main reason I even signed up was curiosity about letters and numbers.  Neither of them will make me read more books, and I only occasionally think to update my lists.

The 2014 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge is to read one book with a title starting with each letter of the alphabet.  I imagine some letters may be harder to find than others, but I've already got 8 of the 26 letters.

I've been doing A Century of Books since the beginning of 2012.  Since there didn't seem to be any ending date, I'll keep adding to my list until I've read a book for every year.  Obviously, I'm reading more from this century than the last, so I decided to have two lists and include two centuries:
20th century (1900-1999) ~ I've read 18/100
21st century (2000-2014) ~ I've read 14/15


I mentioned above that I am helping to start a book club with other women of my church.  The only problem is that I'm planning to move.  I met with them yesterday anyway, discussed books the group might read, and shared ideas about what to name the group.  Two possibilities that came up were Bookworms and Mind Benders.  Do you like either of those?  What does your discussion group call itself?

From The Sunday Salon's original website:

"Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together — at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones — and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs."