Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Books

My sister, the librarian, had this set of questions on her blog and suggested that we her dear readers answer them on our blogs. So, for the fun of it, here we go.

What was the last book you bought?

Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, by Kathleen Norris.

Name a book you have read MORE than once.

Mere Christianity, the Chronicles of Narnia, To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, Les Miserables (no, just kidding on that last one….I would like to read it again, but I don't know when it might happen....)There are others. I tend to re-read things I want to stay around in my mind.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Hearing God, by Dallas Willard.


How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

I love to see books done beautifully, but I generally buy them because of what I’ve read in reviews or heard from friends.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

I love reading good fiction, and because of life activities tend to read a lot more nonfiction.

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

I see no point in making it an either/or issue. Good fiction is written well, which includes having a plot that matters. I’m not in need of “gripping” plots, as I don’t thrive on suspense. I think a lot of bad writing is out there that people “can’t put down,” but I’m concerned about the effect reading such stuff has on people’s minds….

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

I don't know that I could pick one....I might have to think about that and maybe write about it separately someday.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

I don’t keep books on my nightstand.

The ones by my reading chair are way too many….and yes, I’ve started them all….Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak (re-read) and A Hidden Wholeness, Marsha Sinetar’s Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow (re-read), Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart, Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage, Slavenka Drakulic’s Café Europa, Norcross and Guy’s Leaving It at the Office, Poe and Mattson’s What God Knows, Barbara Sher’s It’s Only Too Late if You Don’t Start Now, The Life of Teresa of Avila by Herself, The Music Lover’s Anthology of Poetry…..and a few more……And I’ll probably finish them all over the course of a few months, on an as-needed basis.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

The last book I remember finishing was Tolkien’s The Return of the King. That was in September.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

A wise piano teacher once told me, “Life is short. Play only music that you love.” I feel the same way about reading. If I get into a book and don’t find myself really loving it or really learning something from it, I’m not going to finish it unless it’s required for some reason or another.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Sign


When we went to Mountain View, Arkansas, a couple of weeks ago, on our way back we stopped at Johnson's Freeze Inn, in Wynne. My favorite ice cream stop for many years, it is a very small building, the kind of place where you used to just stand outside and receive your goods through a sliding window. Some years ago they added on, so a few people can sit down inside, and no one has to stand in the rain. They even added a drive-through window. It's still small and very obviously locally owned, not part of a chain, and I love to stop there.

So, I didn't get a picture of Johnson's, but I did get this picture of the school mascot that was on top of a sign in the parking area. Not sure if you can tell, but it was clearly handpainted, probably one of a kind. And I just love that expression on the face.

I do miss living in a small town!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Aaaackkkk!

"The United States spends more on trash bags than ninety other countries spend on everything. In other words, the receptacles of our waste cost more than all of the goods consumed by nearly half of the world's nations."

--Business writer Polly LaBarre, quoted by Daniel H. Pink, in A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

It's an interesting book, and that quote is not the focus of the book, or even the chapter I'm reading, but it sure got my attention.

How do we change this??

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another Poem


"You should put more poems here," Lucy commented a couple of posts back. I've thought it over and decided to be brave and do just that.

So, here is another poem I wrote in high school. I do not have this one memorized, by the way. I came across it recently while going through things in my office.

It must have been graded strictly on form rather than content, because it got a 100.

After a Day in the Library
When I Wanted to Talk

Miss Browning, our librarian,
Was heard to threaten, "Hush!"
If soon you do not quiet down,
Your body I shall smush."

But I continued talking on:
I couldn't hold it in.
And then I learned that in her view
That was a deadly sin.

She kept her vow, and although now
I'm far from being dead,
My eyes peep out from 'neath my knees,
And toes sprout from my head.


You see what I mean about content?

I really wonder what inspired this poem, because I didn't tend to be a talker, and I don't recall Miss Browning being particularly severe. It must have been an unusual day when I did talk a lot, and perhaps not being used to reprimand, I was just very impressed by hers? I don't know.

Actually, now on re-reading, I see themes of social stereotyping, violence, rebellion, hamartiology...It does have some pretty important content when you look more deeply. Ha!

Lucy, do you still think I should put more poems here? :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Plato's Geranium



Last time I wrote about geraniums, it was the graceful tale of the last bloom of my geranium despite a long period of neglect, when most of the leaves had dried up.

This time I think the problem was that I overwatered when I first brought them home. (I had been instructed last year to water them often, because since they are hanging and exposed to the wind, they can dry out quickly.) Well, shortly the blooms all wilted and began to disintegrate. I thought the right thing to do was to pinch them off, the way you do with many flowers to encourage growth. And, of course, to water less.

Apparently geraniums are different from the flowers I am used to, because it did not work. They have not bloomed since. They've provided nice green, but since I bought them for the vibrant red flowers, it has been a disappointment.

But one morning I was in the room that opens out to the back porch, and the sunlight was coming in at just the right angle to create the geranium shadow on the curtains.

It's not anything like seeing those amazing red blooms, but it was really lovely, and the photos give an idea of that.

Fall is really here in Memphis now, and as the flowers fade, this seems like a good image for the end of summer.

(P.S. Can anyone read my curtains and tell me what they say??)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time



Finitude

The ticking of time is to me odd.
Minute and moods mingle in ways
That seldom make sense. Did we select
A way for a why, or a why for a way?


I wrote that in high school for an assignment that had something to do with Beowulf and caesuras, if I remember correctly. I remember a couple of points were docked because "w" and "wh" are not really the same sound, and the accent does not fall properly in the first line, but my teacher (my beloved teacher, Mr. Wright, written about long ago on this blog, who would not be pleased with this long and awkward parenthetical interruption) liked it, and I did, too.

I wish I could remember things now as well as I remember so many things from long ago! I hadn't thought of that little poem in a long, long time, but it came to mind tonight. I found a book, a collection of essays, with the title What God Knows: Time and the Question of Divine Knowledge, and started reading it tonight.

The first essay looks at Hebrew conceptions of time as contrasted to Greek, and looks at how modernity cemented and further developed the Greek way of looking at time. Which is a problem when you're reading things written originally in a culture steeped in the Hebrew constructs. The author, Harry Lee Poe, spends a good bit of time in Genesis 1 and Revelation, and looks at cultural time differences, linguistic differences, and even a bit of physics.

The part that called up my little poem was this:

John receives a glimpse of human affairs from the perspective of eternity, but through the lens of fantastic imagery. John is shown a variety of tableaus cloaked in vivid imagery. All of the colors, numbers, gems, creatures, events, and objects have a symbolic, metaphorical, sometimes allegorical, and poetic meaning; and this kind of meaning applies to conventional time constructions like days, months, and years as well. Both Revelation and the Genesis 1 account of creation suggest the problem of confusing the measurement of time with time itself. The measurement of time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, years) is a human construction. Just as some people measure space by feet and inches and other people measure the same space by meters and centimeters, some people measure time by the moon and some by the sun. Either one of these methods is strange when you come to think of it, but no less strange than the method of measuring time by the vibration of atoms!

So maybe I was onto something with that little poem way back when. (After reading this, it just doesn't seem important to figure out how many years ago it was.)

If anyone can shed light (ha, no pun intended) on the photo below, I will be grateful. It is from San Gimignano, and I took a picture of it just so I could try to understand it. I've had no luck finding any information about it. It seems to be a sundial of sorts, or at least a representation of one. The words, I'm convinced, must be French, though I can't make literal sense of it. You can see them clearly if you click and enlarge it.

From my Italian, my guess is that it's saying something like "everything holds itself [together]." Can anyone help me? (Maybe my reader in France?)

(And the clock above is the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Prague. I did not take that picture.)