Thursday, October 31, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

If Queen Elizabeth likes pockets, is it possible women will now start getting clothes with pockets?  I sure hope so.  I chose jeans as my retirement "uniform" because jeans have pockets.

Am I also a Wonder Woman?  My arms and hands look like this picture, but what I wonder about differs somewhat.  To begin with, I know where my keys are.  Since I wear jeans, I know the keys are in my pocket.  I no longer carry a purse, but I do have a big book bag.  Even bigger is my cart, which holds my book bag full of papers and calendar and books and such.  It also holds leftover lunch from the Circle@Crown Café downstairs.  Using a red bag clip, I can hang my bottle of tea on the front.  That saves having to juggle tea in one hand while pushing the cart with my other hand.  (Tricky, that.)

Maybe I should have entitled this post "An Ode to My Cart."  As I started thinking about it, I realized it takes out my garbage and the kitty litter to its proper disposal place; it carries my dirty clothes to the laundry room and clean clothes back.  I have used it to deliver bags of books to other residents and to bring back groceries from the store.  Someone asked where I got my cart, so I shared a story of how we living at the Crown Center often "inherit" what others no longer need.  My cart once belonged to Pat Tracy, who died about a year after I moved here.  When Barbara Land died, her friend Rebecca cleaned out her apartment.  Now someone will inherit Barbara's electric scooter, which once belonged to Evelyn, who died in July.

The "Aging Gracefully" page on Facebook has another saying I'm thinking about today:
"I'm at an age where all my secrets are safe.  My friends can't remember them either."
I can't remember anything these days.  I no longer try to multi-task.  Unless I write it on my calendar, I forget what I said I'd do, who I'm supposed to get together with, and (of course) that old saw "what did I come in here for?"  I'm always trying to locate the tracks of my train of thought.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Four favorites ~ meditating on a Monday

1.  My favorite view is either from Signal Mountain looking south across the Tennessee River and Chattanooga (above) or from Lookout Mountain looking north across the Tennessee River and Chattanooga (below).  Do you see a pattern here?  I first posted the photo below in 2013.

2.  My favorite comfort food is extra crispy fried okra.  Jeff at Shuford's BBQ knows I like it extra crispy and makes it perfectly.  When I visited Chattanooga in April, Sandra asked where I wanted to eat lunch on my birthday.  Not only did I get extra crispy okra, but Jeff also took me out to his van and gave me a Shuford's shirt like the one he was wearing.  If you are in Chattanooga, I highly recommend Shuford's BBQ, now located in the old Southern Restaurant building in Red Bank.

3.  My favorite genre of music is classical music, but my VERY favorite piece is Mozart's Bassoon Concerto.  I've posted it several times on this blog, and this is a good short version.  If the video doesn't work, here's the YouTube link.

4.  My favorite theological writer is Marcus Borg, especially his The Heart of Christianity, published in 2003.  I reviewed this book ten years ago (click on the title for that blog post).  Borg, who died in 2015, often wrote with John Dominic Crossan, most of whose books are also on my shelves.  I still need to read The Search for Jesus: Modern Scholarship Looks at the Gospels (1994) by Borg, Crossan, and Stephen Patterson, that was edited by Hershel Shanks.  When I bought this book, years ago, I'd never heard of Patterson.  But now his 2018 book The Forgotten Creed: Christianity's Original Struggle against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism is on top of the stack beside my chair, waiting to be read.  Now both books are on the stack.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Enjoy Scott's music

Today, I want to share my friend Scott Sheperd's video from YouTube.
If it quits working, watch it on YouTube.
If you want more, leave a comment, and I'll get you in touch with Scott.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Um, no, I won't ask

I'm pretty sure Clawdia won't like that I'm posting this, but it is Caturday and it is my own blog (yes, it is).  Sorry, Clawdia, but this is hilarious.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Beginning ~ with Dick and Jane

FIRST BEGINNING:  "Here is the house.  It is green and white.  It has a red door.  It is very pretty.  Here is the family.  Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy" (p. 3)

SECOND BEGINNING"Quiet as it's kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941.  We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father's baby that the marigolds did not grow" (p. 5).

THIRD BEGINNING:  "Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel.  Rosemary Villanucci, our next-door friend who lives above her father's café, sits in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter" (p. 9).
I remember reading the Dick and Jane books when I was in the first grade in 1946.  That's wa-a-a-ay back there.  That first beginning seems to be quoting the early reader used at my school.  The second of those three beginnings indicate we're hearing a story set in 1941.  The third quotes the first words of a longer section called "Autumn."  Okay, I'm ready to jump into the story.

The Bluest Eye ~ by Toni Morrison, 1970, fiction (Ohio)
Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty.  Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.  Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife.  A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.
Click this link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


I have discovered a new word.  On July 23rd, I celebrate Gotcha Day for Clawdia, who came to live with me on that date in 2015.  I ran across a post about a feral cat named Grandpa Mason.  Well, they named him Mason when he was found three years ago, but by his actions fostering rescue kittens, he became a grandpa.  Anyway, there was a video of him on his "gotchaversary."  Makes sense to me.

"Mason found a new purpose in life:  being a foster grandpa to rescue kittens.  For 1069 magical days, Grandpa Mason shaped dozens of young minds, passed down important grandpa secrets, demonstrated tremendous hunting prowess, taught manners, quashed impudence, and created a multitude of fashion-forward kitten hairstyles."
He loved taking care of kittens, and he had a Facebook page.  Grandpa Mason died on October 19th, or as they say about pets, he crossed the rainbow bridge.
"Grandpa Mason showed the world that even if you’re old, sick, feral, broken, or different, you have value.  You have something to offer.  You are worthy of compassion.  You matter."
If the video quits working, watch it on YouTube.

A similar newly-minted word that I've used on this blog is blogiversary.  Oh, there's one more word that applies today:  Fursday.  Clawdia likes that one.  Have you ever used any of these words?

Think about it

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Two added on TWOsday

Great Dream: Ten Keys to Happier Living ~ by Vanessa King, 2016, self-help
As I published the October calendar last night, I noticed a guidebook on the Action for Happiness website that I could either order or print in pdf-format.  The last page of the booklet says, "Order the book and find out more."  So I printed out the 28-page guidebook (shown above) and ordered the book for my Kindle (only 99 cents, shown below).
Ten Keys to Happier Living: A Practical Science-Based Handbook for Happiness
~ by Vanessa King, 2016, self-help
"Happiness is not something ready made; it comes from your own actions," says the Dalai Lama, who is the patron of Action for Happiness.  Vanessa King, expert on positive psychology, has created ten key evidence-based actions that have been shown to increase well-being — at home, at work, and in the world around you.  We all want to be happy, but what does that actually mean and what can we do in our everyday lives to be happier?  Fortunately, psychologists now have evidence of what really makes a difference and helps us to be happier and more resilient to life's ups and downs.  The author has drawn on the latest scientific studies to create a set of evidence-based practical actions.  These will help you connect with people, nurture your relationships, and find purpose.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Optimistic October 2019

Click on the calendar to enlarge it.
I found this month's calendar on the Action for Happiness web site.  Yes, I'm very late this time.  My laptop quit charging in late September, and I had to send off for a new cord.  When it arrived, it had been two weeks since I'd posted anything, and I simply forgot about the calendar ... until now.  Here's what they suggest we do for the rest of October.

October 21
~ Let go of the expectations of others and focus on what matters.
October 22
~ Write down three specific things that have gone well recently.
October 23
~ Share an inspiring idea with a loved one or colleague.
October 24
~ Recognize that you have a choice about what to prioritize.
October 25
~ Plan a fun or exciting activity to look forward to.
October 26
~ Ask yourself, will this still matter a year from now?
October 27
~ Be kind to yourself today.  Remember, progress takes time.
October 28
~ Start the week by writing down your top priorities and plans.
October 29
~ Find a new perspective on a problem you face.
October 30
~ Set a goal that links to your sense of purpose in life.
October 31
~ Think of three things that give you hope for the future.

"Choose to be optimistic.
It feels better." ~ Dalai Lama

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Remembering Barbara

Barbara Hyman Land
April 13, 1947 — October 14, 2019

Litany of Remembrance

When I see a funny cat picture on Facebook and want to share it,
I'll remember you.
When I go out for pizza as we did the last time we had fun together,
I'll remember you.
When the elevator door opens on the seventh floor of our building,
I'll remember you.
When the friends at "our" table sit around talking after dinner,
we'll remember you.
Because you have been so much a part of our lives at the Crown Center,
we'll remember you.
So long as we live, you too shall live, for you are now a part of us,
as we remember you.

Mindy 1-15-19
She is also greatly missed by her elderly cat Mindy, whose grief and confusion are palpable.  Mindy will be on her way to Vermont soon, going home with Barbara's beloved Rebecca and her family; their photos covered Barbara's pantry door.

Barbara's obituary can be found here.

I wrote this litany of remembrance for my friend, whose graveside service will be later today.  The poem A Litany of Remembrance by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer was my inspiration, and the photo at the top was taken on the day before Barbara's 72nd birthday this year.

Mindy today (click on photo to enlarge it)
Update after the funeral:  This photo is too good not to share.  Rebecca texted it to me, saying, "Mindy decided to use the sink to hide in."  When she sent the text, they had Mindy and were almost to the arch.  Except for her nose, she blends in nicely.  I wish you well, Mindy.  Goodbye, pretty girl.  I'll miss you, too.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Cat humor for Caturday

Some of you may laugh, but I think this cat knows what she wants and says what she thinks.  Oh, the print's too small and you can't read it?  Typing it out will take a long time, but okay, here it is, summarized:
A German shepherd, a Doberman, and a Cat have died.  God wants to know what they believe.  The German shepherd says, "I believe in discipline, training, and loyalty to my master."  God says, "Good, then come sit on my right side."

God asks the same thing of the Doberman, who answers, "I believe in the love, care, and protection of my master."  God says, "Then you may sit to my left."

God asks the Cat the same question, and the Cat replies, "I believe you are sitting in my seat."

Clawdia, sitting pretty,
'til next time

Friday, October 18, 2019

Beginning ~ with reporters and a picture

Outside the guarded entrance, reporters circled like a pack of wolves.

That first sentence of the Prologue is not much, but the last sentence of the Prologue on the next page is powerful and intriguing.

"It started with a picture."

Sold on a Monday ~ by Kristina McMorris, 2018, fiction
The sign is a last resort.  It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams.  It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.  For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past.  He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication.  But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.  This novel was inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.
 Click this link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thursday Thoughts ~ about exercise

Clawdia wants the world to know it's really FURSday, meaning it's HER day, not mine.  These yoga positions are easy for her, except the last one.  She prefers to put her face down into her food and use her tongue to lap it up.  Cake?  Ugh!  Not her thing at all.

This is Clawdia's way of doing the waterfall.  Just hang your head off the side of the bed.  No problem.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Passed or Past?

"Not a day has past, but what I think of him."  That's the sentence that prompted this blog post.
Passed is a verb meaning to move on or move by.
Past is an adjective, adverb, or preposition meaning earlier.
Example:  "That car has passed me in the past."
Now, which of these is correct?
"Not a day has past, but what I think of him."
"Not a day has passed that I don't think of him."
Yeah, I know I changed the last part of the original sentence.  I don't have time to get into why I'd never use "but what" in that sentence.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Two new books ~ one bought, one borrowed

What's in It for Me? : Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives ~ by Stephen Lewis Fuchs, 2014, theology
The world is rapidly dividing between those who take biblical narratives as the literal word of God — claiming that they are historically and scientifically true — and those who dismiss those narratives as quaint or even foolish fairy tales.  Fuchs invites the reader to discover a middle ground that takes biblical narratives seriously without regard to their historical or scientific truth.  The "truth" of these stories has nothing to do with, "Did this really happen?"  Their truth emerges in the valuable lessons these stories can teach all of us.  As we walk the rich middle ground of biblical narrative, we shall keep one question constantly in mind:  Where am I in the text?  In other words, what do these stories teach ME that can help me to be a more self aware, caring, and compassionate human being?
From the Introduction
"The God of the Torah wants us to use our power to create a just, caring, and compassionate society.  We human beings have godlike abilities, and the Almighty has set us in charge of, and responsible for, the earth.  We have awesome power.  We can use it for good or for ill.  Since we have free will, the choice is ours" (loc. 171).
P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever ~ by Raj Haldar, illustrated by Maria Tina Beddia, 2018, children's picture book
Turning the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, P is for Pterodactyl is perfect for anyone who has ever been stumped by silent letters or confused by absurd homophones.  This whimsical, unique book takes silent letter entries like "K is for Knight" a step further with "The noble knight's knife nicked the knave's knee."  Lively illustrations provide context clues, and alliterative words help readers navigate text like "a bright white gnat is gnawing on my gnocchi" with ease.  Everyone from early learners to grown-up grammarians will love this wacky book where "A is for Aisle," but "Y is definitely not for Why."
I bought the first book for my Kindle, but the children's book is from the library.  Yes, I'm fascinated by widely different ideas.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Indigenous Peoples Day

I ran across this picture in a blog post about Wisdom of the Indigenous Elders three weeks ago.  I googled to learn more and discovered it's about changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.  That day is today.  I also found The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers on Facebook and clicked "follow" so I can continue to read their wisdom.

That's when I learned they had published a book four days earlier:  Grandmothers Wisdom: Reverence for All Creation.  Now I want a copy, but when I got to the Pre-order page, I found it costs $76.  Nope, I can't afford that.  On the Facebook page for the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, I also found an article about the Dalai Lama claiming that Women are the Leaders of the Future.
“In the West, you have education.  This is good.  You have technology.  This is good.  But you do not educate your people in values of the heart, of compassion.  This you must do,” the Dalai Lama said.  “It does not matter whether you are Buddhist or Christian.  Compassion lives in the heart, beyond religion.  Even me, a Buddhist, can say that you do not need Buddhism.  All you need is the compassion of the heart.  Women know this because peace is implicit in women.  You put boys together, they make war.  You put women together, they make peace.  Women are the leaders of the future.”
Something has to change ... and soon.  We are killing the planet, killing people all over the world.  Maybe the Thirteen Grandmothers can make a difference.  Here's their Mission Statement:
The Grandmothers view the earth as the giver of life and the mother of all things.  They are painfully aware of the dire state of our planet and have announced themselves as forerunners of an international movement with a common ideology to preserve our natural world.  They are teaching reverence for all creation – the earth, air, fire, water and all living beings.  A Hopi proverb says: “When the grandmothers speak, the world will begin to heal.”

Through their global union, the Grandmothers have collectively become a catalyst for the awakening of the feminine principle and its healing force — without which, wars will continue without end and aggression will rule.  They believe that saving the planet calls for a profound transformation in the heart, mind, and spirit of human beings, and that it is the nurturing spirit of the feminine that is needed as an alternative perspective at all decision-making levels regarding peace, justice, human rights, indigenous rights, environmental protection, and the health and welfare of children and the elderly.
Read about the Thirteen Grandmothers themselves, who are elders from all parts of the earth.  I'm fascinated by their individual thoughts and ideas.  Women everywhere need to join their efforts to bring peace and health to the planet.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Salon ~ booking around

The University City Public Library has new cloth bags for delivering books to home bound patrons.  I covered up my address, but you can see my name attached to it.  Beside the sturdy bag are five library books.  Notice how many different libraries these books are from.

1.  The President Is Missing ~ by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, 2018, fiction
This big  novel (on the bottom) is a recent donation to the Crown Center library, which I had hoped to read before shelving it.  Nope, I'm not finding time, with all the other books I've borrowed or bought.  I guess I'll go ahead and shelve it for others to enjoy now.
2.  The Women of the Copper Country ~ by Mary Doria Russell, 2019, fiction (Michigan), 9/10
I've already completed this one, so it'll go back in the bag to return to the U-City Library on Thursday (pick-up and delivery day).  Click the underlined link to read more about it.
3.  The Cross and the Lynching Tree ~ by James H. Cone, 2011, history
With the two books below needing to be finished for book club discussions this month, there's no way I can read this 202-page book in time to return it in the bag to U-City by Thursday.  So I'll renew it to read along with those coming.
4.  The World's Strongest Librarian: A Book Lover's Adventures ~ by Josh Hanagarne, 2013, memoir (Utah)
Risé, who lives here at the Crown Center, works at the St. Louis Public Library (downtown) and brings us book club kits for our Fourth Wednesday Book Club discussions.  I need to have the 291 pages of this novel read by the 23rd.
5.  The Bluest Eye ~ by Toni Morrison, 1970, fiction (Ohio)
The U-City Library is sending a discussion leader for this novel, which was distributed to us earlier this month.  I have until the 30th to finish these 206 pages.  That shouldn't be a problem, since I read this years ago and already know it's a great novel.
Have you read any of these books? Tell me (in the comments) what you're reading these days.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bits and pieces

Donna had completed this Bananagram on her coffee table a few weeks ago, and I tried to save it.  As you can see, the photo is rather fuzzy.  She and other word-loving neighbors play Bananagrams on Saturdays, so I could try again this evening.

Here's Sandy's little Louie, perched near the top of his ladder.  Donna was bird-sitting in September and invited me over to share a pizza she had ordered.  When Louie wasn't talking to himself in his tiny mirror, he spent his time arguing with the newscasters while we ate.

Though it may look like Clawdia, this is actually just some random cat from the internet.  But those eyes!  I wonder what she was seeing ... or imagining.  Maybe I should wonder, instead, what words someone said.  Could one of the words have been "vet"?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Beginning ~ with mail delivery

The post hits the doormat with a thud.  He hears it, his ears tuned by months of careful listening.

Cara, 2017
'I can't do this on my own anymore!
I shout it down the phone.

Postcards From a Stranger ~ by Imogen Clark, 2018, fiction
When Cara stumbles across a stash of old postcards in the attic, their contents make her question everything she thought she knew.  The story she pieces together is confusing and unsettling, and appears to have been patched over with lies.  But who can tell her the truth?  With her father sinking into Alzheimer’s and her brother reluctant to help, it seems Cara will never find the answers to her questions.  One thing is clear, though: someone knows more than they’re letting on.  Torn between loyalty to her family and dread of what she might find, Cara digs into the early years of her parents’ troubled marriage, hunting down long-lost relatives who might help unravel the mystery.  But the picture that begins to emerge is not at all the one she’d expected — because as she soon discovers, lies have a habit of multiplying.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click this link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday Thoughts ~ about the purpose of church

"How many of these activities have a real impact in the community?"  What We Don't Need is an excellent and thought-provoking short article today by Jan Edmiston.