Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sammy's obituary ~ on Caturday

Sammy began life as an abandoned kitten, not yet weaned.  One of Donna's co-workers found her on the parking lot where they worked, and Donna was the one willing to take her home and care for her.  Sammy was afraid of bare feet, making me think she must have been kicked by someone's bare feet before that someone tossed her out on a parking lot.  Donna had to feed her with an eye-dropper and eventually teach her how to eat food.

One highlight of her life was the bird in St. Louis who would come "talk" to Sammy through the screen in the open window.  Sammy made her own special sounds to the bird.  When she and Donna moved to Chattanooga, Sammy met Kiki, but the two were never close friends.  They did learn from each other, though.  Kiki learned to "drink" from a tall glass, after Sammy would sample Donna's water that way.  Before long, the cats had their own "red glass" to drink from (see the photo above).  And Sammy learned from Kiki.  Donna wrote, "She taught Sammy how to love to the best of Sammy's ability.  Sammy has lost much of her feral nature because of watching you and Kiki's so very special relationship."

On her birthday a few days before she died, I gave Sammy a new food dish.  At 19 years old, Sammy was in pain from arthritis in her spine and possibly her kidneys shutting down.  The mobile vet and her assistant came to the house on Thursday, May 28, 2014.  I was stroking Sammy when she died, telling her how much I loved her.

A few hours later, I lowered the blinds, which Donna and I had left permanently open at the bottom for Sammy and Kiki to be able to look out of their house-bound world.  They could see our patio, grass, flowers or rain or snow, people walking by on the sidewalk.  In other words, they could see the "beyond" outside those window panes.  This photo shows Sammy staring out toward where Kiki had gone, making me think she was looking for Kiki to return.  Sammy, too, is now on the other side of those windows.  And the blinds have been lowered.  Rest in peace, Sammy.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Beginning ~ with The Kiss

Pitching My Tent: On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship, and Other Leaps of Faith ~ by Anita Diamant, 2003, essays
Every Friday night, I kiss my husband.  No matter how tired we are.  No matter what dreadful things we said to each other earlier in the day.  No matter what.  The kiss is neither perfunctory nor passionate.  And yet, even when there are six other people in the room, it is intimate.

All week long, a kiss is just a kiss.  But our Friday-night kiss is something else.  It acknowledges a connection that is ultimately as mysterious as any sunset, as sacred as any psalm.

This is a ritual kiss.  It takes place in the dining room, immediately after we light two new, white candles and sing the blessing that marks the beginning of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.  Candles and kiss are followed by blessings over wine and bread.
Yesterday, I took three boxes of books to trade at the big used book store in town.  I came home with this book.  I've read Diamant's novels The Red Tent (1997), Good Harbor (2001), and Day After Night (2009), so I know she's an excellent writer.  I look forward to digging into this book, after I get moved to St. Louis this weekend.  Here's a description:
Before The Red Tent, before Good Harbor, before and during six books on contemporary Jewish life, Anita Diamant was a columnist.  Over the course of two decades, she wrote essays about friendship and family, work and religion, ultimately creating something of a public diary reflecting the shape and evolution of her life as well as the trends of her generation.  Pitching My Tent collects the finest of these essays, all freshly revised, updated, and enriched with new material, forming a cohesive and compelling narrative.

Organized into six parts, the shape of the book reflects the general shape of adult life, chronicling its emotional and practical milestones.  There are sections on marriage and the nature of family ("Love, Marriage, Baby Carriage"); on the ties that bind mother and child ("My One and Only"); on the demands and rewards of friendship ("The Good Ship"); on the challenges of balancing Jewish and secular calendars ("Time Wise"); on midlife ("In the Middle"); and on what it means to embrace Judaism in today's culture ("Home for the Soul").
The word "Shekhinah," the rabbinic term for God's presence on earth, is from a Hebrew verb meaning "to pitch one's tent" (according to Karen Armstrong's book The Case for God, p. 376).  Is this related in any way to Diamant's title?  I hope the book gives me a clue.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

TBT ~ "When I Grow Up"

Kiki sitting among boxes from an earlier move

Sorting through old papers and boxes to move has only one redeeming value.  Occasionally I run across something that makes me smile.  Here's what my daughter wrote toward the end of third grade, using her very best penmanship.

When I Grow Up
When I grow up I want to be like my mother.  She doesn't go to work, but she does work.  She works for a man.  He teachs music.  My mother plays the piano very well.  My mother is a room mother this year.  She enjoys having partys for us.  I think I would like to be a room mother when I grow up.  Sandra L. Jacobs
April 29, 1969
That man I worked for, the man who taught music, was A. R. Casavant, well-known in the marching band world.  I played in concert band and marching band under his direction when I was in high school.  When she wrote this, the work I was doing for him was drawing pen-and-ink illustrations for his books on marching bands.  My drawings were used in at least two of his books published in the 1960s.

Here's the Chattanooga High School marching band in action.  I played the glockenspiel, but I can't tell which one is me in this routine we filmed late one afternoon in the fall of 1957 at the stadium of the University of Chattanooga (now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga).

By the way, my daughter did grow up to be a room mother.  All through their elementary school years, she worked with her children's teachers and school staff.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Words ~ towing the party line

Someone on Facebook said something about "towing the party line," and I had to dash over to my blog to post something about the misuse of the word.  I have visions of someone pulling (towing) something heavy ("the party") on a long line, the way this horse is towing a barge in a canal.

"Toe the line" is an idiomatic expression, according to Wikipedia, meaning either to conform to a rule or standard or to stand poised at the starting line in a footrace.  I can use this idiom by saying that I expect people to toe the line when it comes to correct word usage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

50 years ago today ~ my dad died

Similar to my dad's grave, but 50 years later.

When Grandpa got died
Us went to him's house
But he wasn't there.

Then Mom let us go
To a beautiful place
With flags everywhere.

But the prettiest spot
Was all covered with flowers
With some up on stands.

We liked it so much
That we asked to go back
To see Flowerland.

BSJ  6-1-64

My dad died on May 27, 1964, exactly 50 years ago today.  We had to hurry to bury him that year, before the Memorial Day weekend.  As I was going through an old box yesterday, I found a 3x5 card on which I had typed this poem.  Using some of their own words, I wrote it from the viewpoint of my twin daughters who had turned four that month.  My son was only 11 months old.  Fifty years ago.  Half a century.  Hard to imagine.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Past, future, present ~ mindfulness

"Do not dwell in the past,
do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind
on the present moment."
            — Buddha

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ three generations

Book just finished
The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God ~ by Steve McSwain, 2010, religion, 9/10
Best quote:  "Is attending your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple helping you be a better and more compassionate person, spouse, neighbor, employee, and employer?  Is it leading you to understand yourself, to know what ego has done and is doing in you, your thinking, your relationships, and so forth, to experience a transformational shift in consciousness, 'to over come the world,' as Jesus put it?  If not, then my advice is this:  Stop going!  Go somewhere else or find another religion altogether.  Better yet, give up on reeligion entirely" (p. 191).
Currently reading
Writing a Woman's Life ~ by Carolyn G. Heilbrun, 1988, women's studies
Description:  "In this modern classic, Carolyn G. Heilbrun builds an eloquent argument demonstrating that writers conform all too often to society's expectations of what women should be like at the expense of the truth of the female experience.  Drawing on the careers of celebrated authors including Virginia Woolf, George Sand, and Dorothy Sayers, Heilbrun illustrates the struggle these writers undertook in both work and life to break away from traditional 'male' scripts for women's roles."
Up next?
Revelations: Diaries of Women ~ edited by Mary Jane Moffat and Charlotte Painter, 1974, women's studies
After typing the information about Writing a Woman's Life (above), I slipped it back onto the shelf with my books on women's studies.  That's when I noticed I had shelved it beside a book about women's diaries.  Synchronicity, since I don't have a particular order within my broader categories:  theology, scriptures of the world's religions, women's studies, etc.  It would make sense to read it next, but it's over 400 pages long so not likely one I'll want to read right away.  I may choose a novel, for lighter reading, or maybe.......
More likely up next
The Great Transformation ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2006
--- or ---
The Case for God ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2009
Since I'm studying Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong (2010) with my Book Buddies group, I'll probably read one of these two books by Karen Armstrong which are on my bookshelves.  If I can find them after the move, that is.
When asked where he was going to put his new baseball trophy, my 3-year-old great-grandson Jaxon said, "Next to my soccer trophy."  He loves playing sports.

This one speaks for itself, except to add that she's my granddaughter.

One of my daughters and her husband have been married 34 years, as of yesterday.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Caturday ~ when is it time to let go?

This is Sammy.  Tomorrow she will celebrate her 19th birthday.  In cat years, that's equivalent to being in her 90s if she were a human person instead of a fur person.  She decided a year or so ago to quit using her litter box.  Maybe the brand changed.  Maybe she was getting a cat version of Alzheimer's and didn't remember what a litter box was for.  Maybe she was protesting something.  I don't know why, but it's been a problem ever since for the humans in her life, mostly with having to clean the carpet.  I have now found a brand of litter she doesn't hate, and she has used the box three times but wets on the four dog pads I placed under and around it.  She's learning, even at her advanced age.  Or maybe she's remembering.  We aren't sure if the reasons are related to her advanced age.  She has arthritis in her spine, and Donna (her owner) says Sammy moans in her sleep.  She may also have hyperthroidism, though the bloodwork has not yet been done to confirm the vet's suspicion.

Sammy's situation is complicated by the fact that there's only a week before we are moving.  Driving by car takes eight hours to get from Chattanooga to St. Louis, but even longer when it's a "convoy" of a moving truck and a car.  Sammy did not do well on the move in the other direction twelve years ago, and Donna doesn't want to put her through it again.  A vet, who has examined her and knows the situation, has agreed to euthanize her this week, before moving day.  I'm finding it very difficult to agree to do this for her ("her" being either Sammy the cat or Donna my friend, who is already in St. Louis take your pick).  Oh, yeah, I forgot to add that Sammy won't let anyone pick her up and fights whenever she is "captured in a towel" to be put in her cat carrier.  She is afraid of people and has never liked being touched.  I can't touch her without being bitten or at least snapped at.  I've never had a cat so fearful of being touched.  That means it would be a real problem getting her into the car, even before an all-day trip to another city.  On the other hand, I hate the idea of euthanizing her just as she has figured out what I want from her.

Would it be bettter to let Sammy go peacefully?  What should I do?  I value your collective wisdom, so tell me, please.....

What would you do?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beginning ~ with ideas about how to live

A Brief Guide to Ideas ~ by William Raeper and Linda Edwards, 1997, philosophy
You might be wondering what philosophy is all about.  Surely it is only for high-flying intellectuals who spend hours thinking?

Philosophy is not just about how to think; it is about how to live.  Philosophy takes a closer look at the ideas behind how we live our lives.  What we think is true affects our view of ourselves and how we treat other people and the world.

Each of us has a mixture of ideas in our heads about ourselves and the world.  These ideas have come from somewhere.  This book takes a look at different ideas from different times, different people, and different places.
Table of Contents (added for myself, if you don't want to read any more about this book)

Part 1: How and What Can We Know? ~ Epistemology
1 Knowledge and Reason ~ Plato and the Ancient Greeks
2 Theories of Knowledge ~ Plato and Aristotle
3 Faith and Reason ~ Augustine
Part 2: Who Am I? ~ The Question of Identity
4 The Nature of the Soul ~ Aristotle and Identity
5 Mind and Body Divided ~ René Descartes’ Dualism
6 What Price the Soul? ~ Modern Debate on the Mind/Body Problem
Part 3: Does God Exist? ~ Philosophy of Religion
7 From Plato to Bertrand Russell ~ Arguments for the Existence of God
8 The Five Ways ~ Thomas Aquinas
9 The Argument from Religious Experience ~ The Bible and the Mystics
Part 4: Routes to Knowledge ~ Rationalism and Empiricism
10 Knowing through the Mind ~ René Descartes
11 Knowing through our Senses ~ John Locke and Bishop Berkeley
12 The Limits of Knowing ~ David Hume
Part 5: Why Do We Exist? ~ Existentialism
13 Faith: the Highest Way of Living ~ Søren Kierkegaard
14 The Nature of Being ~ Martin Heidegger
15 Free to Choose ~ Jean-Paul Sartre
Part 6: All in the Mind? ~ Psychology
16 God as Psychological Projection ~ Ludwig Feuerbach
17 The Unconscious Mind ~ Sigmund Freud
18 The Collective Unconscious ~ Carl Gustav Jung
Part 7: How Should Society Be Organized? ~ Politics
19 The Republic ~ Plato
20 The Ultimate Political Pragmatist ~ Niccolo Machiavelli
21 Class Conflict ~ Karl Marx
Part 8: Is Man the Measure of All Things? ~ Humanism
22 The Rise of Humanism ~ Erasmus and the Renaissance
23 Beyond Good and Evil ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
24 Humanism in the Modern World ~ John Stuart Mill
Part 9: Who is Jesus? ~ The Person of Christ
25 Christology through the Ages ~ Jesus, the Son of God
26 The Kingdom of God ~ Jesus of Nazareth
27 Revelation and Response ~ Some People of Faith
Part 10: What Place Has the Bible? ~ The Question of Interpretation
28 The Struggle for Understanding ~ The Early Christians
29 The Reformation ~ Martin Luther and John Calvin
30 Interpreting the Bible Today ~ Conservatives and Radicals
Part 11: Does Science Have the Answers? ~ Science and Belief
31 Creation and Evolution ~ Charles Darwin
32 The Meaning of Modern Science ~ Einstein and the New Physics
33 Miracles in a Scientific World ~ The Argument with Hume
Part 12: The Nature of Meaning ~ Skepticism and Pluralism
34 The Enlightenment ~ Immanuel Kant
35 Language Games ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
36 Pluralism ~ Reality is Relative
Part 13: What Are the Boundaries of Reality? ~ The Paranormal
37 The Quest for the Transcendent ~ Christianity and the Paranormal
38 The Devil and All His Works ~ Belief in Satan Today
39 The Problem of Evil and Suffering ~ An Age-old Question
Part 14: God the Mother? ~ Feminism
40 The Maleness of Reason ~ A Feminist Viewpoint
41 Patriarchy and Women ~ Mary Wollstonecraft and Others
42 Male and Female in the Bible ~ Feminist Theology
Part 15: Anything Goes? ~ Relativism Versus Certainty
43 Moral Relativism ~ William James and the American Pragmatists
44 Postmodernity ~ Culture in Change
45 Fundamentalism ~ Reality is Certain
Part 16: Renaissance or Delusion? ~ New Age Thinking
46 Shifting the Paradigm ~ Modern New Age Movements
47 The Me-Cult ~ New Age Psychology
48 Tomorrow’s World ~ A Bird’s-eye View

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TBT ~ A Prayer for Owen Meany

I'm emptying boxes of old papers, sorting through my "millions" of stacks and shelves and boxes of books, and generally trying very hard to get my "stuff" down to a manageable size so I can move to St. Louis.  That's my way of saying I found email notes to and from my earliest online book buddies that I'd like to share with you.  It brought back lots of fond memories from 1997.  Good grief!  That's 17 years ago!  But first, a glimpse of our group's correspondence, then my recollections of a time "long, long ago" when the world was very different.  I'm the only one I'll identify, since I haven't asked these friends if they mind being quoted.
"On John Irving the writer, have you read any other books by him?  Which would you recommend?"

"I keep hearing and seeing raves for the book A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.  Have you read that?  Anyone else read anything by John Irving?"

"I, too, would welcome any input about A Prayer for Owen Meany.  My in-town group has chosen it for January."

"I have a good friend in Maryland that belongs to a book club and they just finished reading A Prayer for Owen Meany.  She said it was very good."

"I just received that book from Amazon yesterday.  Can't wait to start it, but, alas, have a few more ahead of it."

"Yes, I am reading A Prayer for Owen Meany for my intown book group.  Round about chapter 5 or 6 now.  I am enjoying it."

"I just started reading A Prayer for Owen Meany today.  I think I'm really going to enjoy this one."

"This one is also on my 'want to read' list.  Don't know when I will get to it.  Hopefully, when you and Bonnie get through reading the book, you will post to us through e-mails your thoughts ad insights.  I think some of the others in the group have already read this book, but I can't remember who."

Bonnie on December 30, 1997:  "I finished reading A Prayer for Owen Meany last night.  There's a lot here to discuss, whenever folks are ready."

"For those of you who might be interested."  (In the email she sent us, this book buddy put Joan Smith's Salon Interview with John Irving, which had this long sentence:
"Since 1978, when he published The World According to Garp, Irving has produced eight long novels, all of them bestsellers, and has become one of the best known authors in America, famous for his comically convoluted plots, his penchant for violent fates and endless epilogues (you always know, happily, what happened next in an Irving novel)."
"I really like A Prayer for Owen Meany.  I'm just beginning the 4th chapter.  You were right, Bonnie, there should be lots of good discussion with this book."
Did you read the book?  What's the first thing that comes to mind about it?  Even 16+ years later, I can still "see" those words of Owen Meany that are WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS.  Strangest book I'd ever seen.  Distracting, in a way, that the kid was always SHOUTING IN CAPITAL LETTERS EVERY TIME HE OPENED HIS MOUTH.  And yet ... and yet ... Owen Meany was "a short kid with a squeaky voice."  Do you remember that?
Synopsis:  In the summer of 1953, during a Little League baseball game, 11-year-old Owen Meany hits a foul ball that kills his best friend's mother.  What happens to him after that fateful day makes A Prayer for Owen Meany extraordinary, terrifying, and unforgettable.
Did my Book Buddies ever discuss this book?  I don't remember. What did I think of it at the time?  I don't know, but I do know I've referred to it many times.  I posted it on a list of 1001 books you should read before you die.  I recommended it for Banned Books Week.  It was even the answer to Which book are you?, once out of four different times I took the quiz in 2007 (along with The Mists of Avalon, Anne of Green Gables, and the Dictionary).  Did I rate the book when I first read it?  I have no idea, since I did not yet have a blog and wasn't thinking along those lines.  How about now?  Based on the fact that the book and its plot are still rattling around in my memory banks, I think it deserves a 10 out of 10.

A Prayer for Owen Meany ~ by John Irving, 1989, fiction (New Hampshire), 10/10

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Graduation Day for Cady

My granddaughter Cady graduated from 8th grade today.  She also won the President's Academic Excellence award and the Algebra award.  As one of the two valedictorians (called "top scholars" at her school), she was the last person to speak at their graduation ceremony.  She got a certificate for perfect attendance this school year, then she and one other student also got certificates for perfect attendance for TWO years in a row.  We're proud of you, Cady!

Left to right in the photo:  Her dad (Greg), her aunt Sandra, Cady (wearing her Algebra medal with the Academic Excellence pin), her Grandma Bonnie, her big sister Cali, and her mom (Barbara).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Søren Kierkegaard ~ Monday Mindfulness

Søren Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813–November 11, 1855), considered the first true existentialist philosopher, explores how our constant escapism from our own lives is our greatest source of unhappiness.
"The unhappy one is absent.  But one is absent when living in the past or living in the future.  The form of expression is important, for it is evident, as philology also teaches us, that there is a tense that expresses present in the past, and a tense that expresses presence in the future; but the same science also teaches us that there is a pluperfect tense in which there is no present, as well as a future perfect tense with the same characteristics.  These are the hoping and remembering individuals.  Inasmuch as they are only hoping or only remembering, these are indeed in a sense unhappy individuals, if otherwise it is only the person who is present to himself that is happy.  However, one cannot strictly call an individual unhappy who is present in hope or in memory.  For what one must note here is that he is still present to himself in one of these.  From which we also see that a single blow, be it ever so heavy, cannot make a person the unhappiest.  For one blow can either deprive him of hope, still leaving him present in memory, or of memory, leaving him present in hope."
He says, "It is only the person who is present to himself that is happy."  That's what I call mindfulness.  Being in the present means being aware of what's right here, right now.

Correction 2-14-18

No one apparently noticed a glaring mistake that Matrill (not her real name) told me about this evening when she commented, "That portrait is of Hans Christian Andersen."  Googling, I got this portrait among others labeled Søren Kierkegaard, but also labeled Hans Christian Andersen.  I'm pretty sure Matrill is right, so the image here beside this correction is the one that graced this post for nearly four years.  I've replaced it at the top with the statue of Kierkegaard that is in the Royal Library Garden in Copenhagen, according to Wikipedia.  Since his name is even carved in stone, I hope I got it right this time.  Good catch, Matrill.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ a valedictorian in the family

Dreams and Dreaming (Mysteries of the Unknown) ~ by the Editors of Time-Life Books, 1990

So far, the most interesting part of this book, which I'm reading right now, has been about Jung and Freud and their disagreement about dreams.  There is a double-page spread showing five of Carl Jung's images from his Red Book, including the one here (page 71):

In the vision that inspired this painting, Jung saw the Hindu god Brahma in serpent form, with the tree of life sprouting from its mouth.  Unlike Freud, Jung recognized that other cultures, particularly Chinese and Indian, contributed to his theories, and he believed Brahma was "the star of the East, ... the stag from the forest, ... the end and the beginning."


Do you remember my assistant book reviewer back in 2007 and 2008?  Cady, my youngest grandchild, reviewed such books as Kersplatypus, Goldie, and Other Goose.  My favorite among her reviews, though, was And Tango Makes Three, which was banned for "anti-family, homosexuality, unsuited to age group."  Click on the book titles to see Cady's thoughts and a photo of young Cady with the Tango review.

And now the exciting news:  Cady will be co-valedictorian at Soddy Daisy Middle School's 8th grade graduation on Tuesday.  The photo shows Cady and her project (done with three other students) on Academic Night at Soddy Daisy Middle School last Thursday evening.  Congratulations to my smart granddaughter, Cady, who also got awards at her 5th grade graduation.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Caturday ~ let's have a mid-May event

That's your assignment for today, if you choose to participate in this mid-May event on Bonnie's Books.  You didn't really expect it to be strenuous, did you?  Simply share a name or two or ten to answer the question, What have you named your kitty?  Any kitty, no matter how recently or how long ago.  What name did you choose?  For even more fun, tell us why you chose that name or tell us how you happened to get that particular cat.  I'll start.

She looked more bedraggled than this.
(1)  Duchess ~ When I was nine years old, a neighborhood boy and I were splashing in rainy puddles when a bedraggled kitten found us.   My mother said it looked like a drowned rat (well, mouse ... the kitten was very small), and Micky's mother wouldn't let him bring it into their house.   After due consideration, Mother decided to let me keep the kitten.  I named her Duchess, and she slipped right into our family like she had always belonged there and grew to be very regal indeed, a beautiful soft gray cat with white paws and a white spot below her chin that moved like a dog's tag when she walked.  Duchess had her first litter of kittens in my drawer on top of my socks and underwear; it must have been the softest place she could find at the time.   When I was in high school, we rode the regular city buses to school and home again in the afternoon, yet Duchess was always at the bus stop to meet me.   How did she know which of the buses that ran every 20-30 minutes all day would be the one I rode?   I don't know, but her internal clock was set and there she was, waiting to walk home with me.
Jack grew to be a big cat and looked a lot like this one
(2)  Jack ~ When my twin daughters were five and my son was two, they found twin kittens from the same litter under our tree on Christmas morning, one male and one female.  I have never been able to tell one from the other until cats grow up, but we told our children which we thought was which.   We were, of course, mistaken.  Before we learned we had mislabeled the kittens, the children had chosen names from among their favorite stories, and the fur babies became Jack and Jill.  Or Jill and Jack.   Within a few months one darted under the wheels of a car and "Jill" lived on ... until the day it was undeniably clear that "she" needed to be renamed Jack.  I'm sure Jack was totally confused when he received his sister's name, after having been Jill up until then.  But it was clear that he knew the word meant HIM.  Whenever he heard "Jack"  in a sentence spoken between humans, he would twitch his ear in our direction, even if we thought he was asleep across the room.

Kiki Cat in later years
(3)  Kiki ~ My loving Kiki Cat, who was twelve when she died a couple of years ago, was a con artist from an early age.  She was quite good at lying for a good cause.  Her antics were sometimes hilarious.  When my roommate Donna would come home from work, Kiki would show up to tell Donna she had not yet had her afternoon treats ... and Donna’s cat Sammy would come running to jump atop the piano to watch, hoping Kiki could convince the human that the poor starving kitties never got their treats on time.  The only trouble with their scheme was that I was usually right there in the room.  Donna would look at me and say to Kiki, "But you already HAD your treats."  Kiki, the more talkative of the two, would say plaintively, "Maiow mew mew."  Donna said, "Yes, you did."  Kiki protested, "Meow miahow mew!"  Donna would say again, "Yes, you DID."  Getting desperate, Kiki insisted, "Meow miaow meOW, myou."  The cats never seem to notice that humans communicate with each other as well as with them.  Finally, Kiki would give up and plop down on the floor with her back to Donna.  Still watching from the piano, Sammy would sigh and sit down.

I still miss each of you, Duchess ... and Jack ... and Kiki.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Beginning ~ with a broken shoelace

Don't You Know There's a War On? ~ by Avi, 2001, YA fiction (New York), 10/10
"I was late that Monday morning because my shoelace broke just as I was leaving for school.  Meant I had to use some string.  Now, you might think string would be easy to find, but it wasn't.  String was something you gave away for the war effort.  Besides, my sister had already left for school and my mother was at her job at the Navy Yard.  Those days me and my family lived in Brooklyn.  During the war.  When I was eleven.
I met Avi ten or twelve years ago in Kentucky, where my friend Donna and I were attending some sort of books and authors event.  I had already read several of his books for young adults (YA) by then, so it was special to get to talk to him and get his autograph in a book.  Although I got this book several years ago, I still haven't read it, and it won't take long at all.  Here's a synopsis:
"World War II is on everyone's mind and in every headline, and Howie Crispers has a hunch that his school principal is a spy.  With a little snooping around, Howie finds out something even more alarming.  Principal Lomister may not be a spy, but he is plotting to get rid of Howie's favorite teacher.  Howie's dad is fighting Nazis overseas, and his mom is working hard to support the war effort, so Miss Gossim is the only person Howie can depend on.  With the help of his friends, and a plan worthy of radio show superhero Captain Midnight, Howie intends to save Miss Gossim!"
Information on the back of the book tells me a little more about how important Howie's teacher is to him.  It's 1943 in Brooklyn, New York.  Every day, Howie and his friend Denny face reminders of the war where their dads are fighting — like scary headlines.
"During the week, they depend on Miss Rolanda Gossim, their teacher, to keep their minds off their worries."
How many books have you read that focus on the concerns of the children during World War Two?  Nancy Bookfool, have you read this book?

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

Thursday, May 15, 2014

BTT (#43) ~ time

Elisabeth and Jurgen
Today's Booking Through Thursday from Deb is short and sweet:
"If you had all the time in the world, what would you read?"
The first thing that comes to mind, as I sit amid books and books and books that I'm sorting out before moving, is the 31 books by and about Jurgen Moltmann that I have.  I'd finally get around to reading what he had been writing for decades, studying and comparing his early thoughts and his later understandings.  On the day I left seminary, I went to the bookstore and bought another of his books, even though I had already completed everything required to graduate with my MDiv (Master of Divinity).  Something about what this theologian said really spoke to me, though I don't agree with everything he's ever written.  Far from it.  I'd just like to know him better.  And his wife, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel.  She is also an inspiring theologian, and I especially like a book they wrote together ~ God: His and Hers (1991).  Here's a list of books by Jurgen Moltmann in English.  I own most of them, plus books others have written about his theology.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Words ~ lumber

I'm on a neighborhood email listserv.  Neighbors watch out for each other's pets that get loose, ask for recommendations for appliance repairs, and offer each other various items the sender no longer needs.  Emails go out to everyone who signs up.  A recent email had a subject line that perplexed me.
"Lumber available, still needs to be split."
After reading the contents, I went back and confirmed my definition of the word "lumber" by going to an online dictionary.  Yes, "lumber" is timber that has been sawed or split into planks or boards.  (Timber would be the trees themselves.)  So the wood is not LUMBER until after being sawed or split.  Saying "still needs to be split" means there's no LUMBER yet.  Here's the content of that email:
"I have a large sugar maple that has been cut into firewood length logs.  The logs are various sizes and still need to be split.  The larger logs will take 2-3 people to lift and a truck.  Help yourself."
Now he's changed the word to "logs," which would be correct.  "Lumber" is for building construction, and people "split logs" for their fireplaces.  Maybe I'm an old fuddy-duddy because I expect people to use words correctly.  But how can we really communicate if we don't know what we're talking about?

My mother's father was a sawyer, a person whose occupation is sawing wood.  In the late 1920s, his job was to find stands of wood for his company, which then set up a saw mill to make the lumber.  When they exhausted that place, they moved on to the next stand of wood, taking their saw mill with them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess ~ by Leonard Shlain

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image ~ by Leonard Shlain, 1998, language and culture, 10/10
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 and initiated 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.
This book fascinates me, and I'll probably buy a copy so I can mark it up.  I didn't want to stop reading long enough to write out notes, as I usually do.  So I have a list of pages I want to go back and annotate.  Or read the whole book again.  Notice that I rated the book "10/10" up above, which means it really hit home with me.  Some of the ideas that I found most intriguing include these that I want to investigate.
  • The Tao Te Ching contains not a single proper pronoun (p. 199).
  • North American Plains Indians chiefs were elected by older women (p. 349).
  • In classical times, the Greek logos meant "the word"; in the twentieth century, it contracted into logo, the icon.  And now a picture of a trashcan icon  has replaced the word t-r-a-s-h (pp. 416, 417).  For example:
Even though I have multiple translations of the Tao Te Ching that I used with my Religions of the World classes, I never noticed it has no pronouns.  Really?  I want to go grab one of the copies off the shelves and start flipping through it.

Do I recommend the book? Oh, yes, highly.  If anyone has already read it, please tell me what you thought of this book.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Be mindful today

Free your mind from worries.
Give more, and expect less.
Free your heart from hatred.
Live simply, like a child.

By the way, today's the birthday
of my oldest great-grandchild.
Raegan is now five years old.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ dinner party

Ooooooooooooo!  I could get excited about a social gathering like this!  (Found on the Facebook page for Vintage Books and Anchor Books.)  Put on your thinking cap, and imagine with me for a moment.  If we could arrange such an event, what book would you wrap to exchange?  Maybe even more fun, tell us in the comments WHY you picked that book.  What's special about it?  Is it one you recently read?  Is it a long-time favorite?  Or is it simply a book you want to get rid of?  What do you suppose the original "book plate" design looked like?  Does it simply say who it's from?  Or something different?  What a fantastic idea!


Bookstores are dangerous, even when I'm there to trade used books and have less to pack for my move to St. Louis.  I came home this week with these I got with trade credit:
  • A Brief Guide to Ideas ~ by William Raeper and Linda Edwards, 1997
  • Who Is Jesus? : Answers to Your Questions about the Historical Jesus ~ by John Dominic Crossan, 1996
These two in excellent shape were both from the free bin!
  • Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis ~ by Jimmy Carter, 2005
  • Dreams and Dreaming ~ by the Editors of Time-Life Books, 1990
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.