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.