Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Sasha is getting brave

Sasha, who went to her new home yesterday, finally came out.  Either she's getting brave or getting hungry.  I don't have any details, but I am so happy to see this photo of her.  After finally feeling at home with Donna and all settled in for four months or so, she now has to get used to another home and different people.  It must be really hard for an elderly cat, and they think she's about 12 years old.

Monday, December 30, 2019

End of the year ~ a time to meditate

Clever idea for the new year (but starting TODAY).  In one of my clergy groups, someone lamented:  "Never tell the pastor anything important on Sunday!"  There are too many people and too many distractions to remember it all, even in small congregations.  If it's important (like a prayer request, hospitalization, upcoming event, need for a visit), give the pastor a written note.  Another pastor responded with a card she had made up (illustration above).  This is a great idea!  I told her:
"Thank you!  I'm retired now, but I typed up a slightly revised version of this and printed out a dozen to give it a try.  Living in a senior retirement center and making plans with lots of friends to get together or to do something for someone means I occasionally forget to jot it on my calendar.  I'll try this out today, as a matter of fact.  Looking forward to it."
What else do I plan for the coming year?
Barbara's cat Mindy
  • I'll write in my new Becoming journal.
  • I intend to do more with my music, like regularly practicing the piano and teaching Gail to play.
  • I'll miss the friends who died this year:  Evelyn, Barbara, and Sandy
  • I'll also miss their cats:  Mindy (Barbara's cat, who moved to Vermont), Sasha (Sandy's cat, who moved out of Donna's apartment this afternoon), and Patches (Evelyn's cat, who has never appeared on my blog before).
  • I'll exercise with our little group of friends on Friday afternoons, as we've been doing since April.
  • I'll continue to clear out the books in my apartment, keeping only the ones I'm likely to read or re-read in this lifetime.

One way I'll do this "book removal" project is by climbing Mt. TBR, the challenge to read the TBR (to-be-read) books already on my shelves.  My goal is to read at least 48 of them before the end of the year.

Now I need to finish these library books and get them out of my way, right?  Right.

Friday, December 27, 2019

A dreidel for Chanukah

Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated this year from December 22-30.

As we were eating at the Crown Center one evening recently, several very young children were brought into the dining room and encouraged to give each of us seniors a cookie and a dreidel.  What fun!  Those of us who had never played with these tiny wooden tops were laughing as we tried to spin the dreidels.  Some of us kept practicing until we could do it.  Our dreidels, though tiny, were not all the same.  Mine looks very similar to this illustration.

Why did they give us these toys?  Because it is customary to play with a dreidel during Hanukkah.  On each of the four sides is a Hebrew letter:  nun, gimmel, hey, and shin.  Those four letters are an acronym for "nes gadol hayah sham," which mean "a great miracle happened there."  Let me explain.

When the people of Israel were liberated from Greek dominance, they reclaimed the Temple, but could find only enough oil to light the menorah for a single day.  A miracle occurred when the tiny amount of oil kept the menorah burning for eight days.  In this picture, the middle candle is the shamash, but note that there are eight that are lit to commemorate the eight days, adding one day each evening until the candles are all lighted.

The dreidel game is usually played for a pot of pennies, nuts, chocolate gelt, or something similar, which is won or lost based on which letter of the dreidel is up when it is falls over after being spun.  Each player starts with an equal number of tokens, usually 10-15.  They spin to decide who goes first.  The highest is nun, then gimmel, hey, and shin.  (If there's a tie, those two spin again.)  Players each put one token into the pot at beginning of every round, and play moves clockwise.

Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn.  Depending on which side is facing up when the dreidel stops spinning, the player either gives or takes game pieces from the pot.
  • If nun נ is facing up, the player does nothing.  The person to the left spins.
  • If gimmel ג is facing up, you get to take the whole pot.  Everyone, including the spinner, puts another ante unit into the pot, and the person to the left spins.
  • If hey ה is facing up, the player gets half of the pieces in the pot.  (If there are an odd number of pieces in the pot, leave the odd item there.)
  • If shin ש is facing up, the spinner has to put another unit into the pot.  (Sorry!)
Any player who cannot contribute after landing on a shin or after a fellow player lands on a gimmel, is out of the game.  The game ends when there is one player left.  I thought it was kind of cute that one set of rules I found says that the game ends as soon as one of the following occurs:  the sun comes up, all the latkes (potato pancakes) are gone, or the players decide they have had enough.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Cat pendant

Here's the Egyptian cat goddess Bast posed before a carving of the Rosetta stone, the one that allowed people to decode hieroglyphs.  On this last Fursday of the year, I want to tell you what I gave Donna for Christmas ... and why.  She's been taking care of Sasha for four months or so, while Sandy was in the hospital and then after Sandy died.  In a few days, Sasha will be moving in with another lady, but we don't know her.  So I thought Donna should have this little medallion with a cat on it.  I wrote this note for Donna.
Sasha 12-1-19
Sasha and I want you to have this special pendant so you will always remember her after she has to move away from you next week.  We smart cats remember when we were worshiped as deities in ancient Egypt, like my ancestor Bast on this piece of jewelry.  I want to pass it on to a worthy person, since somebody "fixed" me and I can never have a kitten to continue my line.  Sasha and I both love you because you’re a real cat person.  That's a compliment, you know, coming from two cats.
And I signed it, "Love always" because Sasha and I will both love Donna for always and forever.

Clawdia  >^..^<  'til next time

Oh, wait! I just noticed that "medallion" is really MEDAL LION without the space.  Yes!  I gave Donna a little lion medal.  (Also a metal lion.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Michelle Obama's memoir, plus her guided journal

Becoming ~ by Michelle Obama, 2018, memoir
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era.  As First Lady of the United States of America — the first African American to serve in that role — she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.  Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her — from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.  With honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it —in her own words and on her own terms.  Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations — and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice ~ by Michelle Obama, 2019, journal
What's your journey of becoming?  This journal features an intimate and inspiring introduction by the former First Lady and thought-provoking questions and prompts to help you discover — and rediscover — your story.  “It’s not about being perfect.  It’s not about where you get yourself in the end.  There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.  And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.  This, for me, is how we become,” Michelle Obama says.

Michelle Obama shared her own extraordinary journey in her memoir to help create space for others to tell their stories and to give people the courage to discover the power of their own voice.  With this journal, she now provides you with the encouragement to find value in your own personal journey of becoming.  It includes thought-provoking prompts designed to help you reflect on your personal and family history; your goals, challenges, and dreams; what moves you and brings you hope; and what future you imagine for yourself and your community.  She writes in the introduction:
"I hope you’ll use this journal to write down your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, in all their imperfections, and without judgment. ... We don’t have to remember everything.  But everything we remember has value."
As you journal, take heart in the experiences that brought you to where you are today, and also feel empowered to take those next steps, wherever they might lead.
Donna read the memoir when it first came out, and I was impressed by the sections of the book:
  • Becoming Me
  • Becoming Us
  • Becoming More
Sue Jackson recently wrote an excellent summary on her Book by Book blog.  Ebony says it "is on track to be the biggest-selling autobiography in history, according to BBC."  I finally got a copy from the library and have already read well into her section of "Becoming Me."  Donna, best friend that she is, gave me Michelle's guided journal as an early Christmas present.  So today, these are the TWO books I'm sharing here.
A quote:  "The more I told my story, the more my voice settled into itself.  I liked my story.  What's your story?"
I found this Reading Guide, a 7-page pdf we can print out.  It looks as interesting as the book(s).

Monday, December 23, 2019

Monday Music ~ with Gail and Emily and Dora

Emily playing "our" piano
Gail asked me if I could read music.  I took piano lessons at the age of five and played bassoon in the Chattanooga Youth Symphony as well as my school's concert band and orchestra.  Gail wants me to teach her to play the piano.  I'm willing.  When I suggested a book for beginners, Gail was able to find a copy at the Barnes and Noble near us, and her daughter will pick it up.  Crown Center has two pianos we can use.  I gave my piano to Emily when I moved to St. Louis, since I was afraid playing would disturb my neighbors in an apartment building.  The first year I was here, I'd go down and practice on the piano in the Weinberg Lounge after 9:00 pm, when events are over and I wouldn't bother anyone.  Robert, evening support staff at that time, would leave the door open so he could hear me play while he was at the link desk.

Me playing my piano in 2010
I heard Dora playing the piano near the fitness center in the Tallin building and went to listen.  She's one of our Russian residents, who told me months ago that she studied piano at the Conservatory.  We talked, even though she claims her English isn't good (it is), and she wanted to hear me play.  I didn't keep up my late night practicing downstairs, so my fingers have forgotten the melodies I once knew.  I stumbled around on the keyboard, playing for Dora without music, as I tried to remember pieces I'd memorized decades ago.  My music sits idle on a bookshelf.  I miss playing.  I need to save up to buy an electronic keyboard, so I can wear earphones and play without disturbing my neighbors.

Mine looks a lot like this one
I got down my cedar flute to play "Whippoorwill" by R. Carlos Nakai, the one song I've memorized for wooden flute.  Here's the composer playing it on YouTube.  I know only the slow part that he plays at the beginning (0:55 to 2:05), which is all that's on page 63 of The Art of the Native American Flute by R. Carlos Nakai, 1996.

Apparently music is in my bones, and I need to let it out.  I've got to get a keyboard soon!  In the meantime, I could pull out that book of music and play my cedar flute.  (And go downstairs to practice the piano.)

*** Another variation of Carlos Nakai playing "Whippoorwill," which was posted on YouTube in 2018.  I think I like it better.  Here's a third YouTube version from 2015, and a livelier 2018 YouTube version.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Beginning ~ with someone who cares

"Your boss is mad; your spouse is complaining; the kids are cranky; and you just discovered that the roof is leaking.  There's only one thing to do.  Pick up the phone and call a friend."
Women Make the Best Friends: A Celebration ~ by Lois Wyse, 1995, stories and poems
In her heart of hearts every woman knows that men may come and go, but a true friend is forever.  At nine, nineteen, or ninety, the one constant that marks each stage in a woman's life is the importance of the friendships she has made.  In the best of times and in the worst of times, it is our friends who sustain us, cheer us, and see us through whatever surprises life throws our way.  (From the dust jacket, edited.)
I found this in the little library here at the Crown Center, when I was in the mood for something light.  This book has short anecdotes, short poems, short 4-5 page pieces about conversations remembered.  Earlier this year, I read Lois Wyse's 1989 book of anecdotes called Funny, You Don't Look Like a Grandma and liked it enough to give it to my friend Sharon, when she became a first-time grandmother a week or so later.  I'm enjoying this one so far.

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

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

I've decided to join the Mount TBR Reading Challenge because I have mountains of books to climb and miles of bookcases to read before I sleep (or something like that).  "TBR" is shorthand for "to be read.")

The idea is to concentrate on books I already have, rather than borrow library books or buy new ones that I don't really need.  So I'm telling myself to concentrate on reading what's here (and passing along books I've read to others), while planting flags on some of these mountains.

Challenge Levels:
Pike's Peak:  read 12 books from my TBR pile (14,115 ft)
Mont Blanc:  read 24 books from my TBR pile (15,781 ft)
Mt. Vancouver:  read 36 books from my TBR pile (15,787 ft)
Mt. Ararat:  read 48 books from my TBR pile (16,854 ft)
Mt. Kilimanjaro:  read 60 books from my TBR pile (19,341 ft)
Cerro El Toro:  read 75 books from my TBR pile (20,236 ft)
Mt. Everest:  read 100 books from my TBR pile (29,029 ft)
Mount Olympus (Mars):  read 150+ books from TBR pile (69,841 ft)
The Rules:
Once you choose your challenge level, you are locked in for at least that many books.  You are welcome to voyage further and conquer taller mountains after your commitment is met.  All books from lower mountains carry over towards the next peak.  Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2020.  The challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2020.
My declared goal will be Mt. Ararat, 48 books from my own shelves.  Why?   Because of Mt. Ararat's location.  I'm a theologian, and Mt. Ararat is "located" in the Bible (in Genesis 8:4 ~ "and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat." (Genesis 8:4).  I'm setting forth on this sea of books, hoping to rest atop Ararat by the end of 2020.  I'll come back here to list each book I finish that counts toward the goal.  I have three "practice peaks" before Mount Ararat.

Pike's Peak (#1-12)
1.  Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice ~ by Michelle Obama, 2019, journal, 9/10
2.  Paws for a Moment with God: Devotions Best Enjoyed in the Company of a Cat ~ compiled by Patricia Mitchell, 2010, reflections, 7/10
3.  Good Dog. Stay. ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2007, memoir, 9/10
4.  Cat Tales: A Catty Concoction of Quotes, Poems and "Dear Tabby" Advice ~ edited by Suzanne Beilenson, 1992, quotations, 7/10
5.  What Cats Teach Us ... Life's Lessons Learned from Our Feline Friends ~ by Glenn Dromgoole, 2000, gift book, 7/10
6.  Have a Little Faith: A True Story ~ by Mitch Albom, 2009, memoir, 9/10
7.  Making Toast: A Family Story ~ by Roger Rosenblatt, 2010, memoir, 9/10
8.  Ten Keys to Happier Living: A Practical Science-Based Handbook for Happiness ~ by Vanessa King, 2016, self-help, 9/10
9.  Allah: A Christian Response ~ by Miroslav Volf, 2011, religion, 8/10
10.  Transitions: Prayers and Declarations for a Changing Life ~ by Julia Cameron, 1999, meditations, 9/10
11.  The Big Book for Peace ~ edited by Ann Durell and Marilyn Sachs, 1990, stories, 9/10
12.  Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between ~ by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, 2009, humor, 8/10
Mont Blanc (#13-24)
13.  Does God Have a Big Toe?: Stories about Stories in the Bible ~ by Marc Gellman, art by Oscar de Mejo, 1989, stories, 8/10
14.  Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival ~ by Velma Wallis, 1993, fiction, Alaska, 9.5/10
15.  Mortality ~ by Christopher Hitchens, 2012, memoir, 9/10
16.  Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner ~ edited by Ellen E. Garrigues, 1895 and 1910, ballad, 8/10
17.  Politically Correct Bedtime Stories ~ by James Finn Garner, 1994, humor, 8/10
18.  Once Upon a More Enlightened Time ~ by James Finn Garner, 1995, humor, 3/10
19.  The Andrew Project ~ by James Taylor, 1985, theology, 9/10
20.  Talk Before Sleep ~ by Elizabeth Berg, 1994, fiction, 9/10
21.  The Winged Cat: A Tale of Ancient Egypt ~ by Deborah Nourse Lattimore, 1992, fiction (Egypt), 7/10
Mt. Vancouver (#25-36)
Mt. Ararat (#37-48)

You can sign up for this challenge any time during the year by clicking this link:  Mount TBR Reading Challenge.  Headquarters and the "crew" joining this challenge are found here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Two pets ~ on TWOsday

Louie entertains Sandy by doing things like trying on the "helmet" she hung inside his cage.  Sunday morning it snowed in St. Louis, and Sandy says Louie got all excited about seeing his first snowfall.  Her guess is that he thought a lot of white birds had flown into town.

I have one happy kitty here.  She's sitting on the red wrapping paper I took off a book I got for Christmas.  She stepped gently on it, gave me a searching look (like, is it okay?), and curled up on it when I told her she could have it.  I would unfold it better, except I'm afraid she'd take it as criticism and run away.  First, she groomed herself, but now she's simply sitting there, staring off toward the bookcase near the kitchen, very content, very sit-on-crinkly-paper happy.  Best Christmas gift ever!

I posted those words before I had a picture to share, saying I'd come back when I had enough light to photograph Clawdia.  So this was taken hours later, and she's been very happy sleeping and sitting on the paper all day Wednesday.  What a fun thing to have, this papery red thing!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Kitten as bookmark

Using a kitten to bookmark your page
is better than "dog-earing" a corner.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Beginning ~ with dictionaries and words

Kohei Araki had devoted his entire life — his entire working life — to dictionaries.  Words fascinated him, always had.

The Great Passage ~ by Shion Miura, 2011, fiction (Japan)
Kohei Araki believes that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words.  But after thirty-seven years of creating dictionaries, it’s time for him to retire and find his replacement.  He discovers a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime — a young, disheveled square peg with a penchant for collecting antiquarian books and a background in linguistics — whom he swipes from his company’s sales department.  Along with an energetic, if reluctant, new recruit and an elder linguistics scholar, Majime is tasked with a career-defining accomplishment:  completing The Great Passage, a comprehensive 2,900-page tome of the Japanese language.  On his journey, Majime discovers friendship, romance, and an incredible dedication to his work, inspired by the words that connect us all.
In early 2018, I got nine free books for my Kindle that were set in nine different countries:
Today, I started on this novel about Japan.  I'm looking forward to it because I'm a word person.

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

Thursday, December 12, 2019

12:12 on 12/12 — continued

Melvin, Bonnie, Dre, Karen, and Donna
Lunch at noon in the Café meant we could take group photos around the table at 12:12 pm on 12/12 to go with the full moon shot I posted twelve hours earlier.  So Karen and I pulled out our cellphone cameras.  Hers was better than mine, so thanks for letting me use it, Karen.

Full moon at 12:12 a.m. on 12/12 (Dec. 12)

Tonight's full moon is at its very fullest at exactly 12:12 a.m.  That's 12:12 on 12/12.  I'm not the only one that finds that fascinating.  Here's what the Farmers' Almanac said about it:
"December’s Cold Moon turns 100% full on December 12th (12/12) at 12:12 a.m. Eastern Time."
I had read that a day or so ago along with this picture with all the 12s.  So I made plans and waited until just after midnight to zip down on the elevator and out the door to take that photo above.  Hmmm, it took me a minute to find where the moon was in the sky.  I had to move out into the parking lot, away from our tall buildings, to see it almost directly over the Crown Center.  There's a single light visible on the eighth floor of the other building, so you can see a bit of the Crown Center in the dark.  I went in smiling and shared the "12/12 at 12:12" photo with the staff support fellow on the desk tonight and came home to post this on my blog.

First, I looked up Farmers' Almanac for a quote.  Oops!  I failed to notice "Eastern Time" in what I had read, so I snapped that shot an hour late.  Actually, an hour and one minute late, since the cell phone says it was 12:13 when I took it.  Oh, well, I challenge you to see a difference in brilliance in MY full moon picture, which is kind of blurry, anyway.  It's still 12:12 to me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


This is a photograph of Chattanooga, my hometown.  That mountain over yonder is Lookout Mountain, and that's how far away yonder is.   At least in this example.  Yonder means "over there," so distance varies.  "Way down yonder in the land of cotton" is not necessarily within sight of the singer.  Flying "into the wild blue yonder" is a rather amorphous place — how high is the sky?

I've only used "yonder" once before on this book blog, though I wrote about the word in 2010 on my word blog:  How far is yonder?  That's the blog where I write about words.  At the top, I say that Joyful Noiseletter is "an exuberant newsletter to myself about joyful things, like words, which I enjoy."

Friday, December 6, 2019

Melting cat

This melting cat is what I chose to leave at the top of my page when I stepped away from Facebook, from seeing pictures of traumatized children caged at our borders and one teen dying of the flu while caged, reading ad nauseam about a leader who cannot lead but has become a laughing stock mocked around the world, hearing about angry people, shootings, frustration, and lack of compassion and understanding.

My cat Clawdia in 2015
I'll spend time with my cat, looking out windows or brushing her or going for a walk, maybe even outside if it isn't too cold.

I'll leave you with this photo.  Laughing is good.  Can you see the cat?  Clawdia is black, but she seems to realize I cannot always see her.  She may not know she blends in like a shadow, but she somehow knows she's in danger on the floor and says "Mewp" when I walk in her direction.

Beginning ~ with perplexing thoughts

Opening Lines
"We spend a lot of time thinking about why people are bad.  Just as perplexing, maybe more perplexing, is why they are good."
Rambam's Ladder: A Meditation on Generosity and Why It Is Necessary to Give ~ by Julie Salamon, 2003, philosophy
Nearly a thousand years ago the great philosopher and physician Maimonides, known to Hebrew scholars as Rambam, pondered the question of righteousness.  Out of it came the Ladder of Charity.  In eight chapters, one for each rung, the book helps us navigate the world of giving.  How much to give?  How do we know if our gifts are being used wisely?  Is it better to give anony-mously?  The book reminds us on every page we are measured not by what we have, but by what we give.
I bought this book a couple of years ago, at a book sale, but I'm just now getting around to reading it.  I find it fascinating that the page opposite the first page of the Introduction, which has the sentences I quoted at the top of this post, has "The Ladder of Charity" with a list of the eight rungs with 1/Reluctance at the bottom of the page, like the first rung of a ladder.  Each chapter goes up a rung, as if the reader is climbing up the ladder to 8/Responsibility.

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Bokeh ~ a new word for me

Photo ©2019 by Nancy Horner, the Bookfool
Nancy, the Bookfool, posted this photo of her cat on Facebook, saying, "Second annual Cat with Christmas Tree Bokeh shot."  It isn't often I stumble upon a word new to me.  After 79 years of reading and being read to, I've run across a lot of words, after all.  So I looked it up.
In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese:  [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.  Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light."
"BOKEH" ... I like it ... and the great shot Nancy took of Fiona.  Thanks for letting me use it, Nancy.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Advent meditation

Sasha on Donna's bed

Low: An Honest Advent Devotional ~ by John Pavlovitz, 2019, theology
God comes to meet us in the low places of our lives, Pavlovitz says.  When we plant our feet firmly in the dirt of everyday life, we see Jesus meeting us in our low places.  The invitation of Jesus, he says, is not to escape this world "to an elevated heavenly sanctuary somewhere; it is to bring heaven down" (p. 5).  Jesus gets low, meeting us on the ground where we are.

Today is the second day of Advent.  Yesterday, I started this book that Donna gave me four months ago.  She and I met the author last year when he talked about an earlier book, so we expect this one to be thought-provoking, and it is.  Today, the book really got to me.

Week 1 ~ Monday
"All our relationships can be understood as intersections:  the places our road meets that of another person and both stories are rewritten, sometimes wonderfully and sometimes less so. ... Today, dwell on the people who've crossed your circuitous path and changed your story. ... Sit with gratitude for them and for the difference they've made on your journey" (pp. 8, 9).
You may wonder why I've shown you a pensive cat to illustrate my thoughts.  Donna has been keeping Sasha while Sandy Richter was in the hospital and rehab and back in the hospital for close to three months.  I was at Donna's Sunday morning when she got a call that Sandy had died around 3:00 a.m.  Somehow, Sasha seemed to know and had been acting strange all morning, Donna said.  In this photo, Sasha reflects how I was also feeling ... sad, bereft ... but also grateful that I got to know Sandy.

Sandy Richter (1940-2019)
Sandy crossed my path here at the Crown Center, where we ate at the same table.  This photo was taken in the Café last year.  I reflected on how Sandy impacted my life, and my thinking branched out to other friends who have died this year:  Evelyn in July, Barbara in October, and now Sandy seven weeks later.  An ambulance wailed out of our parking lot yesterday, taking another very sick friend to the hospital.  Here's Sandy's version of the Litany of Remembrance that I wrote for Barbara.
Litany of Remembrance

When I see a funny cat picture on Facebook and want to share it,
I'll remember you.
When I recall you saying, "We only grow taller until we're perfect,"
I'll remember you.
When the elevator door opens on your floor at the Crown Center,
I'll remember you.
When the friends at "our" table sit around talking after dinner,
we'll remember you.
Because you've been so much 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.
It's been a sad year, with lots of us feeling low.  I guess I really need this time of meditating on the pages of Low: An Honest Advent Devotional.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Bingo ~ and Thankfully Reading Weekend

Donna and Bonnie ~ notice my shirt (explanation below)
I filled out what I could of the Bingo card, so it's time for my report on it and the Thankfully Reading Weekend, even though our reading for this event doesn't end until midnight.

  • East a healthy snack ~ Hummus on celery.  DONE
  • Read more than one book ~ I did, but I didn't finish either of them this weekend.
  • Do a 60 minute reading sprint ~ Doesn't everyone do this?  DONE
  • Read for a total of 8 hours ~ Being retired, I do this on a regular basis.  DONE
  • Read before breakfast ~ Pretty much a daily thing.  DONE
  • Comment on someone's blog ~ Left comments for Deb, Jenn, and Helen.  DONE
  • Read 100 pages ~ easy peasy.  DONE
  • Read when it's dark outside ~ I always read at bedtime ... and well beyond.  DONE
  • Read under the covers ~ Reading in bed means I do lots of undercover reading.  DONE
  • Listen to an audiobook ~ Nope, not my thing.  I'm a visual person.
  • Post a book review ~ I don't write reviews as often as I used to.
  • Read a book you are thankful for ~ All books?  Every book I read?  No, that's cheating.  Hmm.
  • TURKEY ~ free spot.  DONE
  • Read a recipe ~ At my age (79), I prepare mostly familiar foods, so I'll skip this one.
  • Wear something bookish ~ I happen to have just the thing.  The photo taken today with my friend Donna at the top proves it.  (See *1  below for explanation.)  DONE
  • Take a break and do some stretches ~ Did that on Friday afternoon with my exercise pals.  DONE
  • Cheer on other readers ~ I used to cheer on the readers doing Dewey's 24-hour Readathon, but none this weekend.  Sorry.
  • Read twice in one day ~ I'm retired, so I read off and on EVERY day.  DONE
  • Read outside ~ I laughed when I saw this, then I remembered that Bingo-creator Deb lives in Texas.  (See **2 below for my wordy response.)
  • Read a book on the computer ~ Kindle is allowed, Deb said.  DONE
  • Read something that is not a book ~ I read Reader's Digest, The New Yorker, and a bunch of stuff on Facebook (oh, wait, that time-waster probably doesn't count).  DONE
  • Recommend a book to someone ~ I do this often, but I don't remember specifically doing it during this weekend.
  • Read 200 pages ~ another easy peasy.  DONE
  • Drink something delicious ~ Does orange juice count?  Or flavored tea?  DONE
  • Write down a quote from a book ~ I'll share it with you now, along with a story.  (See ***3 below.)  DONE
It appears that the only Bingo I achieved this weekend was the center row, up and down ... unless the four corners and the center count.  But it's been fun.  Thanks, Deb and Jenn.

* Note #1
I'm the seasonal bookworm, who reads in all seasons.  Since you can't really see that bottom line, even if you click to enlarge the photo at the top, here's what it says on my shirt:

.... WINTER ....
It's snowing. I should stay inside and read.
.... SPRING ....
I have allergies. I have to stay inside and read.
.... SUMMER ....
It's too hot. I'd better stay inside and read.
.... AUTUMN ....
It's so windy. I think I will stay inside and read.

Donna's shirt has nothing to do with this weekend, but it's fun and somewhat related.  She and her friends play Bananagrams most Saturday evenings — words relate to books, right?  They've chosen the sloth as their spirit animal because the beautiful little 2-letter word "ai" is a three-toed sloth.  Donna's shirt says:  "I finally found my spirit animal ... SLOTH ... does absolutely nothing and just sleeps."
** Note #2
I had just read the Bingo suggestion to "Read outside" and remembered that Deb lives in Texas before opening the memoir I'm reading to Chapter 6.  Almost immediately I was laughing again.  The part that made me laugh is below.
*** Note #3
QUOTE from page 66 of God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America, a memoir by Lyn Lenz (2019):
"I didn't grow up in the Midwest; I grew up in Texas, where the openness of the land sprawls hard and wide — like a big, calloused hand.   There, people stretch rather than cluster.  The weather rarely gets cold.  Blizzards don't blow piles of snow against doors and windows, so there are fewer windbreaks and less grace in the geography."
How's that for coincidence, reading about Texas in a book that is not about Texas?  I'm from the South (Chattanooga, Tennessee), but I now live in St. Louis, Missouri.  Last week, we had snow on the ground for days.  It's been rainy all weekend, and temperatures have been in the thirties and low forties.  So the only way I could "read outside" would be to stand under the awning of my building for just long enough to read one or two — or possibly three — paragraphs before running back inside.  That's why I laughed.

Kindness Calendar for December

Click to enlarge calendar.
I found this month's calendar on the Action for Happiness web site.  Here's what they suggest we do for the first days of December.

December 1
~ Encourage kindness.  Share the Kindness Calendar with others.
December 2
~ Support a charity, cause, or campaign you really care about.
December 3
~ Give kind comments to as many people as possible today.
December 4
~ Listen wholeheartedly to others without judging them.
December 5
~ Leave a positive message for someone else to find.
December 6
~ Notice when you're hard on yourself or others and be kind instead.
December 7
~ Make gifts to give to people who are homeless or feeling lonely.
December 8
~ Do something helpful for a friend or family member.
December 9
~ Be generous.  Feed someone with food, love, or kindness today.
December 10
~ Count your blessings: list the kind things others have done for you.

"Do your little bit of good where you are:
those little bits together overwhelm the world."
~ Desmond Tutu

Hours after setting this to post, I ran across this Advent calendar about Kindness and figured it belongs here.  So here's a little additional something to mark this first day of December.

Today's Advent suggestion is a hug, so I'm sending you a Snoopy hug.  Do you feel it?

If you feel it, pass it along to someone else.  Better yet, hug somebody in person today.  Maybe several someones.