Saturday, December 31, 2016

Caturday Hope ~ by Clawdia

"I hope, I hope, I hope Tiny is home."  Hope springs eternal for a cat who has cultivated friends who give her treats when she stops to visit during her evening walks down our hallway.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hope ~ my word for 2017

"Today in all dimensions of life we are searching for a future in which we can really hope."

The Future of Hope (essays edited by Walter H. Capps; Moltmann's is from his 1969 book Religion, Revolution, and the Future), 1970
That quote is the first sentence of Jürgen Moltmann's article "Religion, Revolution, and the Future" (p. 102).  "The theme of hope and its relation to the future is deeply altering the thinking of people throughout the world."  That's from the back cover, which also says this book is "an excellent introduction to the men and the issues of the hope movement."  I bought this book when it was new in 1970 and underlined passages all through it, but I'll probably read it again this year as I begin a self-directed study I'm calling Mondays with Moltmann.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An unPRESIDENTed year ~ shock after shock

My sister Ann with her daughter Amy
This has been an unPRESIDENTed year.

1.    Miriam-Webster chose "surreal" as its word of the year, but the Guardian offered an alternative:  Donald Trump's "unpresidented."  The writer (Adam Gabbatt) offered several definitions of this new word.
  • unpresidented ... An instance of someone being "prepared to say what most of us are thinking," but actually saying things most of us are not thinking.
  • unpresidented ... An irrecoverable act of folly committed by a president.
  • unpresidented ... Feeling of loss when a president who has neither the temperament nor the knowledge to actually be president is elected president, causing one to wonder who will actually be running the country and triggering feelings of malaise and dread.
  • unpresidented ... The state of an impeached president.
And this has been an unprecedented year for me.

2.  On May 16th, I learned that my sister had lung cancer and was under hospice care.  That was the first big shock of the year.

3.  Three days later, I learned that one of my daughters had breast cancer.  I started making plans to get to Tennessee to visit my sister and my daughter.

4.  I'd already spent all of my monthly Social Security check on twice-yearly insurance and the usual needs like food and rent.  So I borrowed cash from a friend to make the trip from St. Louis to Tennessee.  The photo at the top is my sister with her daughter as I was leaving after my last visit with her on July 14th.  As I was backing out of the driveway, I changed my mind and asked for "one more picture" of them together.  It's the last time I would ever see her; she died three weeks later.

5.  When I arrived to provide "after-chemo help" for my daughter with breast cancer, I learned they hadn't done chemo that day, after all, because it wasn't working and the tumor was still growing.  She would need surgery.

6.  After visiting with all three of my children and a few of their offspring, I loaded stuff from a storage unit into my car and headed back to St. Louis.  One of my tires blew a tread before I got to Paducah, Kentucky.  Only about halfway home, I limped into Paducah, where I ran into a tire store as they were locking the door at closing time and bought one tire ― I didn't have enough to pay for four new tires, though they told me my 4-wheel drive vehicle required matching tires or it would ruin the transmission.

7.  Two weeks after I got back, I learned that I couldn't get new tags for my car until I made repairs costing hundreds of dollars, which I didn't have.  Eventually, I borrowed money from another friend ― and was given or offered cash from three or four other wonderful people ― and got three more tires and the auto repairs done.  The stress came with my need to get my loans paid off, slowly, month after month this year.

8.  In the meantime, my daughter had a mastectomy, followed by many sessions of radiation.  She was able to ring the bell to indicate she was still cancer-free after her last radiation treatment.  Reconstructive surgery comes in 2017.

9.  My sister died in August.  I had not yet gotten the car repaired and (obviously) could not drive it back to Tennessee for her funeral.  My daughter couldn't attend because of her surgery, and her mother-in-law also died in August while she was still recuperating.  That means two of my grandchildren lost their other grandmother.

10.  My sixth great-grandchild was born in November and had trouble breathing.  She was in the hospital for over a week before her mother could actually hold her and cuddle her.  A month later, she was back in the hospital with meningitis.  And now she's been diagnosed with a mild hip dysplasia and must wear a contraption 23 hours a day for 7 weeks and then just at night for 4 weeks.

11.  My other daughter's first mother-in-law died, so another two of my grandchildren lost their other grandmother.  That daughter's present in-laws had to evacuate during the horrible fires in and around Gatlinburg recently, not knowing if the house would still be standing when they were allowed to return home.  It was still there, thank goodness, but hundreds of other homes and businesses were destroyed.

12.  I learned that my son's godmother had died the previous Sunday.  She had been my best friend 50 years ago, and I tried to call her on her birthday in August.  Their number had changed, and I didn't reach her.

13.  I've gotten to the last of the Thursday Thirteen numbers, so here's the rest ot the bad stuff.
  • I slipped in the bathtub, when the suction mat slid as I reached for the bar.  I landed on my back and lay very still, trying to assess what might be broken.  I had banged my hip and ribs on the side of the tub, but the hurt must have been deep inside, since I never showed a bruise.  As far as I can tell, nothing was broken, though I still feel twinges when I twist or sleep the wrong way.  It's been achy for weeks now.
  • My ambassador died.  To explain:  Crown Center assigns new residents an "ambassador" to help us learn what's available, how we go about doing this or that, and generally get to know the place and some of the people here.  Marillyn was my ambassador and also ate at the same table I did when we both went down for dinner on the same evening.  She'd been in the hospital, but not for long, so we were NOT expecting to hear that she had died.  The death of friends is not easy, and people we live with in this retirement center are at the age that we experience it much more often than before moving here.
  • I've been absolutely astounded at Trump's win.  His words and actions seem to confirm what I saw online recently, that he's a "super callous, fragile racist, extra braggadocious."  Every single thing he says is something quite atrocious!  If you say this loud enough his sheep become ferocious!  SuperCallousFragileRacist ExtraBraggadocious!
  • On Facebook, I recently experienced a couple of trolls who were not "friends of friends."  I don't know who they were or where they came from, but they arrived to call us (me and my friends) names for comments we made on one of my posts ― about wearing a safety pin, if you can believe it.  When a third troll came out of the woodwork, I deleted the whole thread ― the whole post with all its comments.  And now I've decided to "delete" Facebook from my life.  I'll probably get on occasionally to look for new pictures of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, which was my reason for being on Facebook in the first place.  Otherwise, I need a break from the negativity.
I've had enough of this "unprecedented" year and just want it to end.

The only rule for Thursday Thirteen is to write about 13 things.  The New Thursday 13 is hosted by Country Dew @ Blue Country Magic and Colleen @ Loose Leaf Notes.  If you want to read lists by other people or play along yourself, here's the linky for this week.

Update (12-31-16):
I found this photo on Facebook of the family at Christmas.
 In it are my 3 children and their 3 spouses, my 7 grandchildren
and spouses of the 2 who are married, and my 6 great-grandchildren.
Plus my children's stepmother, her son, his wife, and 2 children.
That's 26 people! Click to enlarge the photo to see the babies.

Update (1-29-17):
I forgot my concern when Jaxon had salmonella food poisoning in October.  He's the little fellow standing down front in the Christmas picture.  I was reminded about it today when I saw Jaxon's answer #2 about "salmonella sickness."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Codswallop ~ today's word

Someone said, "PLEASE emphasize the importance of fact-checking ― more than a few times I've seen them report on a story that later turned out to be codswallop."  Since it was a Facebook comment, someone else quickly decided, "I will be using codswallop for all of 2017 ― thank you."  So what's that funny word mean?  It means "nonsense," as this image from Funky English tells us.  With all the fake-news making the rounds, there's a lot of codswallop out there to deal with!

For an imaginative story about the word's possible origins, read this article on the Lexicolatry blog about words and dictionaries.  It may have all begun in the 1870s with a guy named Hiram Codd and a glass marble in the neck of a bottle of fizzy stuff.  Or maybe the story's a load of codswallop!

Best of all, in googling the word, I found this quote from J. K. Rowling.  Which Harry Potter book is this from?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Good news ~ and bad news

First, the bad news.  My newest great-grandbaby, who is only 7 weeks old, has a mild hip dysplasia and must wear what her mom call "this crazy contraption" for 23 hours a day for seven weeks and then just at night for four weeks.  She's had a rough life so far.

Now the good news.  My daughter's hair is growing back.  Yes, it's darker and kind of curly, but it's hair.  Here she is with her three grandchildren.

Two news items about family
on this TWOsday.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mondays with Moltmann

In 2017, I plan to read through my books by and about Jürgen Moltmann.  Maybe I'll even manage to finish all of them, but studying as I go means it's a lot slower than reading a novel.  I first learned about Jürgen Moltmann in a class by Walt Lowe at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, where we used Moltmann's book The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God (1981).  I have these books by Moltmann, arranged chronologically.
1.  Two Studies in the Theology of Bonhoeffer (first part by Jürgen Moltmann, second part by Jürgen Weissbach), 1967
2.  Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology, 1967
3.  The Future of Hope (essays edited by Walter H. Capps; Moltmann's is from his 1969 book Religion, Revolution, and the Future), 1970
4.  The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology, 1974
5.  The Experiment Hope, 1975
6.  The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology, 1977
7.  The Open Church: Invitation to a Messianic Lifestyle, 1978
8.  Hope for the Church: Moltmann in Dialogue with Practical Theology, 1979
9.  Meditations on the Passion: Two Meditations on Mark 8:31-38 (with Johann-Baptist Metz), 1979
10.  Experiences of God, 1980
11.  The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God, 1981
12.  The Power of the Powerless: The Word of Liberation for Today, 1983
13.  Humanity in God (with Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel), 1983
14.  On Human Dignity: Political Theology and Ethics, 1984
15.  God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, 1985
16.  Love: The Foundation of Hope: The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann and Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, 1988
17.  Theology Today: Two Contributions toward Making Theology Present, 1988
18.  The Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions, 1990
19.  Roundtable: Conversations with European Theologians (interviews edited by Michael Bauman), 1990
20.  History and the Triune God: Contributions to Trinitarian Theology, 1991
21.  God — His and Hers (with Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel), 1991
22.  The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, 1992
23.  Jesus Christ for Today's World, 1994
24.  Faith and the Future: Essays on Theology, Solidarity, and Modernity (with Johann-Baptist Metz), 1995
25.  The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology, 1996
26.  The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life, 1997
27.  A Passion for God's Reign: Theology, Christian Learning, and the Christian Self, 1998
28.  Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology, 2000
29.  A Broad Place: An Autobiography, 2007
30.  Sun of Righteousness, Arise! : God's Future for Humanity and the Earth, 2009
31.  Ethics of Hope, 2012
32.  Jürgen Moltmann: Collected Readings, 2014
33.  The Living God and the Fullness of Life, 2015
Notice that some were written together with his wife, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, who died June 7, 2016.  I also have two other books by her that I plan to read.  She was a guest lecturer in one of my seminary classes, and I was impressed by her.  Later, I'll list books in my collection that others have written about Jürgen Moltmann and his theology.

In the meantime, I've started reading Moltmann's autobiography to get a feel for what was going on as his theology developed.

Mondays with Moltmann ~ the series
1-2-17  Moltmann's major books
1-9-17  Study notes
1-16-17  Jürgen Moltmann ~ theology of hope
1-23-17  Fullness of life

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Caturday on a Thursday ~ reflections

Clawdia is going about her business in a methodical way today.  She's been chasing dot-sized reflections from the face of my watch, running all over the floor, up the walls, and under chairs.  But this one ... well, this one is big.  Yes, B-I-G.  She talked to it ... or better, she chattered at it with quivering chin:  "Chh-chh-chh."

When I moved the laptop slightly, the reflection changed, so she reached out to touch it.  The mystery she's been exploring today:  "How can it be so BIG and yet have no volume?"  She feels nothing at all, even when that ... thing ... touches her or she touches it.  How very, very strange!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Beguinages ~ word for this Wednesday

The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible ~ by Joan Chittister, 2006, religion, 8/10
Looking deeply into biblical stories of female friendships in order to extract greater truths, this compelling work explores the sacred dimension of friendship through the lenses of faith, tradition, and scripture, revealing the often overlooked voices and experiences of women in the Old and New Testaments.  Recovering and reclaiming the witness and wisdom of such women as Lydia, Prisca, Phoebe, Martha, Deborah, Esther, Rachel, Ruth, Veronica, Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary Magdalene, and drawing a highly inspiring message from each of these women's lives, the book embraces friendship as it is embodied by women, between God and all of creation, and between all human beings.
It's rare for me to run across a word in my reading that is completely new to me.  Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, gave me a new one in this book:
"By 1984, social scientists were suggesting that friendships between women actually maintain marital structures by enabling the women to create personal space and autonomy within the family arena, and historians were now studying the woman-to-woman bond that had created convents, mobilized women's social resistance groups, sustained women in harems, and built Beguinages in Europe" (p. 24).
Beguinages.  She didn't explain it in any way, apparently assuming most of her readers would recognize the word.  I didn't.  So I read what Wikipedia said about beguinages.  Here's a summary of what I learned:

View of the Béguinage in Bruges
A beguinage (French – béguinage) is an architectural complex which was created to house beguines:  lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world.  In the early thirteenth century, larger communities emerged in the region of the Low Countries, with several houses for beguines built around a central chapel or church where their religious activities took place.  These often included functional buildings such as a brewery, a bakery, a hospital, and farm buildings.  They were encircled by walls and separated from the town proper by several gates which were closed at night.  During the day the beguines could come and go as they pleased.  From the twelfth century through the eighteenth, every city and large town in the Low Countries had at least one court beguinage, but the communities dwindled and came to an end over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
That reminds me of the place where I live.  Though we have a few men at the Crown Center, most of us are women.  We can come and go as we please, since we are a retirement center, but the doors are locked at night.  We have someone on duty who can let us back in, and we also can get fobs that electronically open the door for us after 9:00pm.  Like the beguines of that time, we have areas of our high-rise buildings with other functions:  an exercise room, an art room, a theater room, a library, a dining hall, a café open from 8:00am to 2:00pm, laundry rooms, meeting rooms (large and small), a computer room, a culinary kitchen for demonstrations, and so forth.  But we residents have our own separate apartments.  Although the Crown Center was established and is run by the Jewish community, residents are not limited to one religion.  It's a very diverse place.

So, I learned a new word.  My favorite passage from The Friendship of Women, however, was about women as leaders:
"There is no doubt about it ― women are definitely leaders.  But they lead differently.  Their goal is not to force people to do anything.  Their goal is to lead people to do what is best for everyone.  They do not function as enemies of a common good.  They do not raise armies.  They do not kill the opposition.  Instead they seek to stop the oppression.  They seek to empower the people they serve.  They arrive at major decisions, not as enemies of the opposition, but as friend to everyone involved" (p. 31).
By the way, in looking up information about Joan Chittister, I learned we share a birthday.  She was born April 26, 1936.  I came along four years later on the same day.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Beginning ~ with a too-large nose

Night of Many Dreams ~ by Gail Tsukiyama, 1998, fiction (Hong Kong)
All the other women in the Lew family were beautiful.  Emma saw it time and time again, in the striking faces of her mother and sister, in the old yellow-edged photos of her ancestors.  The difference that set her apart from Mah-mee and her older sister, Joan, haunted Emma.  It wasn't that she was ugly, but in photos of herself, even as a baby, she saw a too-large nose, a too-round face, that made her feel awkward and conspicuous.  She sometimes wondered what kind of fate had caused generations of Lew beauty to be withheld from her.
This book was donated today to the Crown Center's small library.  I found it while sorting through those we could keep and those to box up for the book sale.  This one is actually too old, having been published 18 years ago, but I haven't read it.  So I brought it home to read before passing it along.  Gail Tsukiyama is an excellent writer, and I especially enjoyed reading Samurai's Garden (1996).  Here's a summary of the story:
As World War II threatens their comfortable life in Hong Kong, young Joan and Emma Lew escape with their family to spend the war years in Macao.  When they return home, Emma develops a deep interest in travel and sets her sights on an artistic life in San Francisco, while Joan turns to movies and thoughts of romance to escape the pressures of her real life.  As the girls become women, each follows a path different from what her family expects.  But through periods of great happiness and sorrow, the sisters learn that their complicated ties to each other ― and to the other members of their close-knit family ― are a source of strength as they pursue their separate dreams.

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

Friday, December 2, 2016

Beginning ~ with his hair and eyes

Seeing Past Z: Nurturing the Imagination in a Fast-Forward World ~ by Beth Kephart, 2004, memoir
This is what he looks like:  dark lustrous hair and big curious eyes, cinnamon or chocolate eyes, eyes like phosphorescence.
That's the first sentence of the first paragraph, but I much prefer the first sentence of the second paragraph.
The night he was conceived, it rained.
That sentence made me smile.  I have liked Beth Kephart's writing for years.  Although I got this book from the library once before, I had to return it before I got around to reading it.  Here's what it's about:
Kids today seem to be under more competitive pressure than ever, while studies show that reading, writing, and the arts in schools are suffering.  Is there any place for imagination in kids' lives anymore?  In a dog-eat-dog world, why dream things that aren't there?  Through personal stories, Beth Kephart resoundingly affirms the imagination as the heart of our ability to empathize with others, to appreciate the world, and to envision possibilities for the future.  The star of her story is once again her son, Jeremy (as in her National Book Award-nominated A Slant of Sun), now fourteen years old ― a child who at first resists storytelling, preferring more objective and orderly pursuits, but later leads a neighborhood book club/writing group and aspires to follow Steven Spielberg into moviemaking.

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

Beginning ~ with the intercom

Booth Girls: A Love Story ~ by Joan Uda, 2013, fiction (Iowa), 10/10
Dee had just opened her mouth to say something when the intercom in the hall sputtered:  "Mary Louise, Mary Louise, please come to the office."
In 1954, nice girls kept their virtue intact.  If they didn’t and got pregnant, their families and society at large could be cruel.  At Booth Memorial Hospital, run by the Salvation Army for pregnant women who need a safe haven, Mary makes friends with Dee, a black girl from Des Moines who is determined to get Richie, the father of her baby, to marry her.  Too bad Richie’s engagement ring is on the finger of Dee’s sister.  Mary, pregnant with Kenny’s child, loves her baby and her baby’s father; but knowing that Kenny is not faithful to her, she refuses to marry him.  Ruby, a slightly older woman, is married to the head of the Iowa mob, has a young daughter, and is pregnant by another man.  The Salvation Army officers who run the Booth home and hospital are all good woman, except for one who is not what she seems.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Have you ever? – quiz

I saw this quiz today on Helen's Book Blog.  This sort of thing used to be passed along to friends in email back in the 1990s, but it's been a long time since I posted a meme on my blog.  Feel free to answer these on your own blog and/or in the comments.

Have you ever.....
  • Fired a gun ― yes, I had a 22-rifle to shoot snakes on our woodsy acre when my children were growing up.
  • Been married ― yes, and divorced.
  • Fallen in love ― yes
  • Gone on a blind date ― yes, it's how I met my husband whom I later divorced.
  • Skipped school ― no
  • Watched someone give birth ― only myself, though I had my eyes closed when my son was actually born.
  • Watched someone die ― yes
  • Been to Canada ― no
  • Ridden in an ambulance ― yes, as the top photo attests.  The EMTs laughed at me, taking pictures after I broke my shoulder.  This photo shows the emergency room while I lay there waiting.  Hey, it took my mind off the pain!
  • Been to Hawaii ― no
  • Been to Europe ― no
  • Been to Las Vegas ― no
  • Been to Washington, D.C. ― yes
  • Been to Nashville ― yes, to attend doctoral classes, to take a friend to doctor appointments there, to take our children to museums, etc.  We lived only a couple of hours away in Chattanooga.
  • Visited Florida ― yes, first as a 7-year-old riding the train there with my Aunt Bonnie, but a number of times to visit my Aunt Lillian and her family.  Oh, yeah, also on my honeymoon.
  • Visited Mexico ― no
  • Flown in a helicopter ― no
  • Partied so hard you puked ― no
  • Been on a cruise ― no
  • Served on a jury ― yes
  • Been in a movie ― no
  • Been to New York City ― yes, while visiting a Connecticut friend (by train to see the Vermeer exhibit at the art museum) and while working on my doctorate at Drew Theological School in New Jersey (by car and Staten Island Ferry to see 4th of July fireworks over the water with friends)
  • Been to Los Angeles ― no
  • Played in a band ― yes, while in junior high, high school, and college.
  • Sung karaoke ― no
  • Made prank phone calls ― no
  • Had children ― yes, twin daugters and a son
  • Had a pet ― yes, dogs and cats and fish and turtles and a hamster.  This photo shows Clawdia napping on a book I was reading recently.
  • Been sledding on a big hill ― no
  • Been water skiing ― no
  • Ridden on a motorcycle ― no
  • Traveled to all 50 states ― no, I've never been west of Kansas.
  • Jumped out of a plane ― no
  • Been to a drive-in movie ― yes, these were popular when I was growing up.
  • Ridden an elephant ― no
  • Ridden a horse ― yes, two or three times.
  • Been on TV ― no
  • Been in the newspaper ― yes, lots of times.
  • Stayed in the hospital ― yes, when I had my children, when I had foot surgery, and when I had quadruple bypass surgery.
  • Donated blood ― yes, and I was even called to come donate in the middle of the night once.
  • Gotten a piercing ― no
  • Gotten a tattoo ― no
  • Driven a stick shift ― yes, it's how I learned to drive.  I even bought a new car when it was time for my children to learn to drive, so they could learn the basics on a stick shift.  That means we can drive just about anything.
  • Driven over 100 MPH ― yes, just to see what it was like.  I was young and foolish.
  • Been scuba diving ― no
  • Ridden in the back of a police car ― no
  • Gotten a speeding ticket ― yes, but I wasn't going 100 mph that time.
  • Lived on your own ― yes, like right now, for example.  On the other hand, I live with about 300 people in this retirement center, many of whom I see every day.  The good part is being able to go to my own one-bedroom apartment whenever I want to be alone.  This photo shows the view from one of my windows.
  • Broken a bone ― yes, my right shoulder, as you see from the ambulance ride (and ER visit) photos above.
  • Gotten stitches ― yes
  • Traveled alone ― yes, lots of times, for business and for pleasure.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Beginning ~ with "God made me"

Opening lines:
As a boy, I never knew where my mother was from ― where she was born, who her parents were.  When I asked she'd say, "God made me."  When I asked if she was white, she'd say, "I'm light-skinned," and change the subject. 
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother ~ by James McBride, 1996, biography
Who is Ruth McBride Jordan?  A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children.  McBride explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage. The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn.  "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.  "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Books on my shelves I should read or re-read

1.  Words That Hurt, Words that Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well ~ by Joseph Telushkin, 1996, ethics
Telushkin explains the harm in spreading gossip, rumors, or others' secrets, and how unfair anger, excessive criticism, or lying undermines true communication.  By sensitizing us to subtleties of speech we may never have considered before, he shows us how to turn every exchange into an opportunity.  He illuminates the powerful effects we create by what we say and how we say it.
Part One ~ The Unrecognized Power of Words
Part Two ~ How We Speak ABOUT Others
Part Three ~ How We Speak TO Others
Part Four ~ Words That Heal
Part Five ~ What Do We Do Now?
2.  Religious Right, Religious Wrong: A Critique of the Fundamentalist Phenomenon ~ by Lloyd J. Averill, 1989, religion
Averill considers fundamentalism to be faith turned in upon itself and consequently ungenerous and unlovely in its religion, flawed in its understanding of history, and dangerous in its politics.  Yet he is also able to delineate some important redeeming characteristics of fundamentalism that deserve acknowledgement.
3.  The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had ~ by Susan Wise Bauer, 2003, education
Offers brief, entertaining histories of six literary genres ― fiction, autobiography, history, drama, poetry, and science ― accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type.  If you can understand a daily newspaper, there’s no reason you can’t read and enjoy Shakespeare’s sonnets or Jane Eyre.  Bauer will show you how to allocate time to reading on a regular basis; how to master difficult arguments; how to make personal and literary judgments about what you read; how to appreciate the resonant links among texts within a genre and also between genres.
4.  Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology ~ by Irene Claremont de Castillejo, 1973, psychology
A noted Jungian analyst explores the division of the human psyche into masculine and feminine.  Characteristic of feminine consciousness is diffuse awareness, which recognizes the unity of all life and promotes acceptance and relationship.  The masculine attitude is one of focused consciousness, the capacity to formulate ideas and to change, invent, and create.  Concerned with the experience of women in a culture dominated by masculine values, the author discusses topics such as the animus (the masculine "soul image" in a woman's unconscious); women's roles in relation to work, friends, children, and lovers; and issues such as abortion, aging, and self-determination.
5.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ~ by Rebecca Skloot, 2011, science-race-ethics
Tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.  Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa.  She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells — taken without her knowledge in 1951 — became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more.  Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.
6.  Biography as Theology:  How Life Stories Can Remake Today's Theology ~ by James Wm. McClendon, Jr., 1990 (new edition), biography
By looking at the lives of four significant persons (Dag Hammarskjöld, Martin Luther King, Jr., Clarence Jordan,and Charles Ives), the author discovers a theology that is adequate to account for the kind of lives these persons lived.  The book concludes with suggested methods by which the work of doing theology biographically can be carried further.
7.  The Psychology of Imagination ~ by Jean-Paul Sartre, 1948, psychology
France's leading existentialist writer examines the function of consciousness in creating a world of unrealities.  Sartre reveals a new way of conceiving of consciousness, the nature of psychic life, and the mind's complex relationship with the external world.
8.  Behind the Mask of Tutankhamen ~ by Barry Wynne, 1972, history
An account of the discovery by Howard Carter and the fifth Earl of Carnarvon of the last unaccounted tomb of a Pharaoh in the royal Valley of the Kings at Luxor, Egypt - a treasure vault unparalled in the history of modern excavation.
9.  The Bookseller of Kabul ~ by Åsne Seierstad, 2003 (in English), biography
This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller.  This book is a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.
10.  The Highest State of Consciousness ~ edited by John White, 1972, psychology
What is the highest state of consciousness?  St. Paul called it "the peace that passeth understanding" and Richard M. Bucke named it "cosmic consciousness."  In Zen Buddhism, the term for it is satori or kensho, while in yoga it is samadhi or moksha, and in Taoism, "the absolute Tao."   Thomas Merton used the phrase "transcendental unconscious" to describe it; Abraham Maslow coined the term "peak experience"; Sufis speak of fana.  Gurdjieff labeled it "objective consciousness" while the Quakers call it "the Inner Light."  Jung referred to individuation, and Buber spoke of the I-Thou relationship.  In this anthology John White brings together a diverse collection of writings by contemporary thinkers such as Aldous Huxley, P.D. Ouspensky, Alan Watts, Kenneth Wapnick, Richard Maurice Bucke, Abraham Maslow, and many more, and asks the question:  What is the Highest State of Consciousness?
11.  Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Challenging Constructs of Mind and Reality ~ by Joseph Chilton Pearce, 1971, psychology
The sum total of our notions of what the world is — and what we perceive its full potential to be — form a shell of rational thought in which we reside.  This logical universe creates a vicious circle of reasoning that robs our minds of power and prevents us from reaching our true potential.  To step beyond that circle requires a centering and focus that today's society assaults on every level.  Through the insights of Teilhard, Tillich, Jung, Jesus, Carlos Castaneda, and others, Pearce provides a mode of thinking through which imagination can escape the mundane shell of current construct reality (the "cosmic egg") and leap into a new phase of human evolution.
12.  Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Split Minds and Meta-Realities ~ by Joseph Chilton Pearce, 1974, psychology
We go through early childhood connecting with the world through our senses.  With the development of language and the process of acculturation not only do our direct experiences of the world become much less vivid, but our innate states of nonordinary consciousness become suppressed.  Trapped in a specific cultural context — a “cosmic egg” — we are no longer able to have or even recognize mystical experiences not mediated by the limitations of our culture.  Motivated primarily by a fear of death, our enculturation literally splits our minds and prevents us from living fully in the present.  Drawing from Carlos Castaneda’s writings about Don Juan and the sense of “body-knowing,” Pearce explores the varieties of nonordinary consciousness that can help us return to the unencumbered consciousness of our infancy.  He shows that just as we each create our own cosmic egg of reality through cultural conditioning, we also innately create a “crack” in that egg.  Ultimately certain shifts in our biological development take place to offset acculturation, leaving an avenue of return to our primary state.  Pearce examines the creation of the “egg” itself and ways to discover its inherent cracks to restore wholeness to our minds, release us from our fear of death, and reestablish our ability to create our own realities through imagination and biological transcendence.
13.  Quartet in Autumn ~ by Barbara Pym, 1977, fiction
This is the story of four people in late middle-age — Edwin, Norman, Letty and Marcia — whose chief point of contact is that they work in the same office and they suffer the same problem — loneliness.  Poignantly and with much humour, Pym conducts us through their small lives and the facade they erect to defend themselves against the outside world.  There is nevertheless an obstinate optimism in her characters, allowing them in their different ways to win through to a kind of hope.

The only rule for Thursday Thirteen is to write about 13 things.  The New Thursday 13 is hosted by Country Dew @ Blue Country Magic and Colleen @ Loose Leaf Notes.  If you want to read lists by other people or play along yourself, here's the linky for this week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TWOsday ~ cancer

Nowhere Hair ~ by Sue Glader, illustrated by Edith Buenen, 2011, children's
This is the story of a young girl who tries unsuccessfully to find her mother's missing hair, only to learn that medicine has made it fall out.  She learns that she didn't cause the cancer, she can't catch it, and Mommy is still very much up for the job of mothering.  The book, written in rhyme, explains hats, scarves, wigs, going bald in public, and the idea of being nice to people who may look a little different than you.   It ends with the idea that what is inside of us is far more important than how we look on the outside.  It's silly, and touching, and real.
The Heart's Code ~ Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy ~ by Paul Pearsall, 1998, social and spiritual
A synthesis of ancient wisdom, modern medicine, scientific research, and personal experiences that proves that the human heart, not the brain, holds the secrets that link body, mind, and spirit.  You know that the heart loves and feels, but did you know that the heart also thinks, remembers, communicates with other hearts, helps regulate immunity, and contains stored information that continually pulses through your body?  Dr. Paul Pearsall explains the theory and science behind energy cardiology, the emerging field that is uncovering one of the most significant medical, social, and spiritual discoveries of our time:  The heart is more than just a pump; it conducts the cellular symphony that is the very essence of our being.  Full of amazing anecdotes and data, this book presents research on cellular memory and the power of the heart's energy and explores what these breakthroughs mean about how we should live our lives.  By unlocking the heart's code we can discover new ways of understanding human healing and consciousness and create a new model for living that leads to better health, happiness, and self-knowledge.
You may wonder what connection I see between these two books.  My sister died of lung cancer on August 5th, and my daughter recently "rang the bell" after finishing weeks of radiation following her mastectomy, a ceremony that indicates she's still cancer-free.  So I've had cancer on my mind for months now.

My daughter got a wig so she wouldn't scare her three grandchildren (her words), so I was surprised to run across what I had written about Nowhere Hair on this blog five years ago.  I've never seen the book, but that post has a video of the author, and it shares her story.  I may have to buy the book now to share with my daughter.

I'm just getting into The Heart's Code, but I underlined a couple of things I'd like to share from the introduction.
"...cells can remember..." (p. 9).

"My cancer seemed to be the result of cells that had become heartless" (p. 3).
Heartless?  Let me put that in context:
"...despite what my brain said, I did not 'have' cancer. cells had lost their memory for how to multiply in a more connective, healthy way and, as a result, were engaging in a thoughtless 'cancering.' cells were not getting the right information to teach them how to stay in harmony with my other body cells because they had somehow become disconnected from their coordinator of healthy energy — the heart.  My cancer seemed to be the result of cells that had become heartless" (p. 3).
What an interesting concept.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Trouble breathing

Shiloh Mae is having trouble breathing.
Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Shiloh is her name ~ November 4th

Held by her daddy
I hadn't seen Donna in a week, so Friday evening we went out to eat.  In the middle of dinner, I got a text message from my son:
6:40 pm  Shiloh Mae is here.  Mom and baby okay.
I texted back:
6:47 pm  YAY!!!!  Donna says, "Me, too!"
She looks like her big brother.
After eating, we stopped to buy groceries, and I needed ink for my printer.  Yes, I looked at things I could get for the new great-grandbaby (okay, I looked at books for her), but I postponed buying anything until I could learn what she needs.  Two more texts arrived while I was driving us home, so Donna had to read them to me.
8:36 pm  Baby still in NICU being observed since she was premie.  We aren't going to get to see her tonight.  I'll update you later.

8:40 pm  Just heard everything is okay.
By the time I got home, got the groceries up the elevator to my apartment, and had put away perishables, it was after 10:00 pm Eastern time.  So I didn't text anything back.  The photos arrived on Saturday, and I'm grinning ear-to-ear as I share them here with you.

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

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What's the kitty thinking?

Sherry left a comment on my Book Beginnings on Fridays post yesterday:  "I'm wondering what the kitty's thinking.  LOL."  Since nothing in that post is about a cat, I assume she meant this photo of Clawdia.  It was at the top of my blog until I changed it just now so we wouldn't be looking at two identical pictures.  Caturday is a good day to try to answer Sherry's question, so ... "What was Clawdia thinking?"

I have a very strange cat, though some would say all cats are strange.  Clawdia likes to get out of our apartment, where I often leave her alone when I go out with friends or join activities here in the retirement center where we live.  She gets lonely, so I take her for a walk in our hallway late every evening.  She has made friends with several people and runs to be petted, like in this photo with a neighbor at the other end of our hall.  You may ask why I don't have her on a leash.  Please take a moment to read about Clawdia, the Drama Queen.

That day she sat staring up at the ceiling, I took a second picture as we came back by that corner.  This one shows her once again sitting and staring at that ... um, thing ... from a different angle.  I'm not sure if it's a security camera (perhaps she heard a whirring sound?) or if it's something else.  But it fascinated her, and she often glances at it now as we take our nightly walks.  She isn't really interested in the brightly-lit exit sign that's visible over her head.  Just that strange boxy thing aimed down the long part of the hall.

Oh, yeah, what was the kitty thinking?  She usually checks out the bulletin board next to the elevators, peers up at decorations people hang on their doors in different seasons, and studies anything dropped on the carpet.  Maybe she wondered how anything got so high up the wall, but probably she was simply trying to decide how to get up there and check out the strange thing more closely.  That's my best guess.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Four beginnings ~ as they wake up, again

And Again ~ by Jessica Chiarella, 2016, fiction
1. Hannah (p. 3):  Maybe it's like being born.  I don't know.  It's impossible to compare it to something I cannot remember.  When I finally come back to myself, it takes me a moment to realize I haven't died.

2. David (p. 17):  Within an hour of waking up, all I want is a shave and a cigarette.

3. Linda (p. 23):  It amazes me, sometimes, how small a world can be.  Not the world as a whole, from horizon to horizon, but the world as it exists for a single person.

4. Connie (p. 26):  Nobody comes to visit me in the hospital that first week.  And that's fine because nobody was really around for the past five years when I was sick, either.
What would you do if you had a second chance at life?  These four beginnings represent people waking up to new lives.  They have been given genetically perfect bodies as part of a pilot program.  Their new bodies are exact replicas of their old selves, but without the deadly illnesses they suffered from.  Scars and blemishes are gone, and their vision is impeccable.  But without their old bodies, their new physical identities have no memories.  How much of who you are rests not just in your mind, but in your heart and in your body?
1. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush.

2. David, a Congressman, grapples with his old destructive habits.

3. Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her.

4. Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mountaintop retreat

Imagine taking a break and going on a spiritual retreat on a mountaintop.  Time apart.  Time to think.  Time to ponder life and all its mysteries.  That's what I'm doing right now.  Sort of.  Okay, my mountaintop is only six stories high, inside my apartment, with a cat bent on distracting me at every turn.  But it's more comfortable than being atop Lookout Mountain with the Tennessee River in the distance.  Unlike Moses going up his mountain, I don't expect to come down with Ten Commandments.

Actually, I've had to come down a few times already, like yesterday when Theresa called from the office to say I'd forgotten to sign my rent check.  Hmm, okay, so I've had to interact with a few people.  But I'm basically taking a bit of a break, reading and writing and thinking 'bout things.  Not eating out with friends.  Not joining in the usual activities around the Crown Center.  Just chilling in my own place.  With my own cat, who insists on being fed any time she notices me and wants to go for a walk after dark.  We're good.

Stressed out

Stress: The Good and the Bad ~ by Paula Ceccaldi, Agnès Diricq, and Clémentine Bagieu, 2001, health
Five sections:
* FACT ~ Facts, figures, and quotes.
* DISCOVER ~ A short history of stress and what it does to your body.
* LOOK ~ Calming images for tense moments.
* IN PRACTICE ~ Coping with stress using relaxation techniques and therapies.
* FIND OUT ~ A stress-level assessment, anti-stress golden rules, and useful web sites.
I bought this book on sale almost two weeks ago, but I really must have needed it.  I felt the stress on Sunday, though I didn't realize that's what it was, when I cried for almost an hour after the last pieces of a puzzle fell into place.  My eyes were puffy and red the next morning.  Then I blogged.  I'm aware that I use words to get things out of my system, either by talking or by writing.  So I wrote about mindfulness to lower stress and meditation to reduce stress on Monday.  I wrote about relieving stress two ways and being stressed about computer repairs on Tuesday.  Only today did I make the connection between feeling stressed out and this book I haven't thought about since the day I got it.  I guess I'll just have to read it, huh?