Tag Archives: Books

Recent Reads

I’d like to say that I’ve read more since stay-at-home orders were issued in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I haven’t. I’m a reader at heart and have continued to read at about the same pace.

Two of the four books pictured have not been shelved because they each have something I might quote in a sermon someday (if I ever preach again!!) and I wanted to make sure I wrote them down somewhere. Here’s the somewhere.

KINDER THAN NECESSARY

“If ever single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary–the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”

From Wonder by R. J. Palacio (pp 300-301)

HERE TO WONDER

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.

From The Color Purple by Alice Walker (p 283)

AN INSULT

Dune has a funny insult somewhere in those 863 pages. But I didn’t mark it and I can’t find it so I guess you’ll have to read the book yourself!

MOTHERS AND SONS

I read Pachinko after reading Dune and was struck by the complex relationship between a mother and son in each book. Very different genres but rich portrayals of the people in each.

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Be kinder than necessary, friends.

And take time to wonder.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Cat

Bill the Cat. Photo: TLClark, 1/28/2020.

Our cat
is a hairless model
needing neither food
nor a litter box.

Staying Warm. Photo: TLClark, 1/28/2020.

Bill usually hangs out by the gas fireplace.
Today he got to look out the window.

“Don’t Make Me Go Out There.” Photo: TLClark, 1/28/2020.

For this photo shoot only, Bill was allowed on the table with his favorite book.

Bill and His Favorite Book. Photo: TLClark, 1/28/2020.
“Wow! Look at that!” Photo: TLClark, 1/28/2020.
“I Like It Here.” Photo: TLClark, 1/28/2020.
“What’s In the Box?” Photo: TLClark, 1/28/2020.

Pictures and Post in response to Dutch goes the Photo! Tuesday Photo Challenge – Cat.

Photo Challenge: Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait. Photo: TLClark, 12/14/19. Taken with a Samsung Galaxy J7 smart phone.

For Khürt’s Smart Phone Challenge : Use your smart phone to “take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.”

Those who know me well don’t need much of an explanation. Books, a camera, some quilting, and a paten and chalice paint a pretty good picture of who I am.

I am the daughter and granddaughter of quilters, but it it has only been in the last ten years that that I have become a quilter. The wall-hanging of flowers reflects my love of nature. The table runner shows my interest in music and states my firm conviction that “All Are Welcome” (song by Marty Haugen, words stitched below the notes) in God’s realm.

The paten and chalice are symbols of my being an ordained pastor and teacher in the United Church of Christ. Although not currently serving a church, I do pulpit supply (preach and lead worship) when colleagues are away on a Sunday morning.

The camera was a Christmas gift from my husband a dozen years ago. My first SLR camera was a combined Christmas and 16th birthday present from my parents. I caught the photography bug from Dad. He took pictures and developed the B&W film; Mom printed pictures in our home darkroom.

Thanks to parents who read to me, I have been a reader for as long as I remember. When I was in trouble as a child it was likely because I had my nose in a book. A common refrain from my teen-age years: “turn off the light, you need to go to sleep.”

Notes about the books I chose for the photograph.

  • Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn. Be aware of wonder. It’s a big, beautiful world and there is much to be amazed by and marvel at.
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Listen to your heart. Follow your dreams.
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Be willing to take a risk. Know that things are not always what they seem.
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris. A beautiful description of the land and the people not so far from where I grew up.
  • Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. A wise and witty account of coming to faith in a “series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another.”
  • This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New by Wendell Berry. Who knew I’d like poetry!!

THIS DAY

After the long weeks
when the heat curled the leaves
and the air thirsted, comes
a morning after rain, cool
and bright. The leaves uncurl,
the pastures begin again
to grow, the animals and the birds
rejoice. If tonight the world
ends, we’ll have had this day.

“This Day” by Wendell Berry

Photo Challenge: Fantasy (Books)

A personal library. One big, beautiful room filled with every book I’ve ever read, every book I want to read, and every book someone else thinks I should read. With comfy chairs and good light for reading. Pure fantasy.

Set aside every time we have boxed books to move.

Nevertheless we have books aplenty.

One shelf of Fantasy and Science Fiction books in our home begins with Frodo’s adventures in Middle Earth as told by Tolkien …

… and ends on Pratchett’s Discworld with Mort.

Why, I wonder, is Fantasy shelved with Science Fiction in one area of Barnes and Noble …

… while Fantasy is shelved with Adventure in the Young Adult Section?

In our local library, Fantasy is simply shelved with most of the other Fiction. As is Science Fiction. No trying to figure out if a particular book is one genre or the other!

~ ~ ~

Posted as a different sort of response to Tuesday Photo Challenge – Fantasy by Dutch goes the Photo!

Revelation: Read Aloud

Headstone with Book. Photo: TLClark, 9/2019.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy,
and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it;
for the time is near.

Revelation 1:3 (NRSV)

The time is always near. There are times when we are just more aware. Aware that life is precious. Aware that things will not stay the same. Aware that some things must end.

The book of Revelation is about end times. At least that’s my first thought when the book is mentioned. Full of weird visions and used by some (to try) to scare folks into heaven, it’s a part of the Bible I generally avoid.

But prompted by a presentation I heard last spring, I re-read the book The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. The chapter “A Story with Dragons: The Book of Revelation” nudged me toward a re-read of Revelation. So far I’ve avoided reading commentaries; that may change.

To add a little discipline to my reading and reflecting, I decided to blog about what caught my attention. I won’t be doing a verse by verse interpretation – that seems tedious to me and would likely be boring for you. At the moment I’m thinking a total of 10 or 12 posts for a book that has 22 chapters.

First observation: Revelation is meant to be read aloud. The words are heard differently when received through our ears rather than our eyes. The text paints some fairly vivid pictures. When I read aloud or am paying attention while another reads aloud, the images have time to develop. I can’t just skip past without nothing more than a glance.

Blessed,” the author says, “blessed is the one who reads aloud … and the one who hears.”

Keeping eyes and ears and heart open with high hopes of encountering the blessing. – Teressa

Thinning the Home Library

One by one.
Book after book after book.
Pull off the shelf.
Read the title.
Check for an inscription.

Haven’t read it?  Give it away.  (A very small pile.)

A textbook?  Have I used it since taking the class?
Can I imagine turning to it for any reason?
Keep?  Give away?

An old favorite?
Remember the story.
Remember the person who gave it to me.
Remember why I bought it.
Remember how it made me feel or gave me hope or challenged my world view.
Remember.

Keep? Give away?
Have I re-read it?
Will I read it again?
Have I quoted from it?
Was it a gift?
Does it make me smile?
Is it a connection to someone I love?
Keep?  Give away?

One by one.
Book after book after beloved book.


 

We have to have our floor replaced (it’s become a safety hazard).  Every piece of furniture, including all the bookcases, will be moved at least twice.  So we’re clearing the bookshelves, packing books into boxes, and taking the opportunity to thin the ever growing collection of books.  – Teressa

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

“Tell me the old, old story … of Jesus and his love.”  – Hymn by Katherine Hankey, 1866

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I’ve been clearing bookshelves, packing up books.  Every piece of furniture – including the bookcases and their contents – must be moved so the floor can be replaced.  We’re using it as an opportunity to thin our library.

The three books pictured came to me from my mother.  Two clearly belonged to her stepfather.  The inscription in Bible Picture ABC Book suggests it was a Christmas gift to him when he was three years old.

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A page from Bible Picture ABC Book by Elsie e. Egermeier.  Illustrated by Charles B. Millar and Ruthven H. Byrum.   Anderson, Indiana: Gospel Trumpet Company, 1924.

The Story of Jesus was also a gift:  “To Arthur for Ideas to Paint  – Mother -“.  Based on the copyright date (MCMXXXIX), the man I knew as Grandpa Art would have been a teenager.  He grew up to be a High School Art Teacher who painted, carved, made pottery and pursued other artistic endeavors.

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A page from The Story of Jesus.  Akron, Ohio: The Saalfield Pub. Co., 1939.

The third book does not have an inscription but considering the topic and the copyright date, I imagine it also came from the Lenz family.  Knowing they lived on a ranch in eastern Montana, I called Mom to ask if they could have afforded books.  Her reply was along the lines of “Oh, yes, Grandpa Lenz came from money.”  She also said that Grandma Lenz was a teacher so having books in their house made sense.

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Title page from Wee Folks Stories from the New Testament in Words of one Syllable by Elisabeth Robinson Scovil.  Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company.  Copyright 1921 by Howard E. Altemus.

Wee Folks Stories is a wee-sized book that is about the size of my hand – 4.25″ wide by 5.5″ tall.  True to its title, nearly every word in the book is only one syllable!

Rather than keep these books, I think I’ll send them to my Aunt Clara.  She’s just the sort who would enjoy having Bible story books that were used by her father.

Three books I won’t have reshelve!  (Is that three fewer or three less?  I’d look it up, but I’ve already packed the reference book and I don’t want to search the web.)

May you have time to read today!

Monday Musing: Alpha and Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
who is and who was and who is to come,
the Almighty.
– Revelation 1:8 New Revised Standard Version

Sometimes, in the space where I’m drifting off to sleep,
texts I’ve heard recently,
words I’ve just read,
and songs I’ve sung in the past
meet up in my mind.
They’re a bit shy, a little nervous,
not sure they should be in the same place at the same time.

That summer was a new beginning, a new end.
When I look back, I remember my slippery
hands of paint and the sound of Papa’s feet
on Munich Street, and I know that small
piece of the summer of 1942 belonged to only
one man.  Who else would do some painting for
the price of half a cigarette?  That was Papa,
that was typical, and I loved him.
– Markus Zusak, in The Book Thief

Alpha and Omega.
First and Last.
Before the beginning and beyond the end.
Always there.  Always here.
Always now.
Past.  Present.  Future.

Yet we measure time in discrete bits, distinct seasons.
That was then.
A new beginning.  A new end.
This is now.
Also a new beginning and a new end.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing, in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
– Natalie Sleeth, “In the Bulb There Is a Flower,” verse 3

Linear.  One thing after another.  Never to go back.
Circular.  One thing after another.  Back at the beginning again.
Timeless with God.

Birthday Book

As soon as I read about it in November, I knew I wanted it.

I suggested it as a Christmas gift.  But the book wasn’t officially available until December.

So I ordered A Velocity of  Being: Letters to a Young Reader edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick for my birthday.  It arrived Friday – along with four other books in three packages.

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Birthday Books 2019.   To share with my beloved.  Photo: TLClark.

I’m the sort of person who likes books about books.  A Velocity of Being is not quite that.  It’s better:  letters about reading from authors and artists, musicians and scientists, actors and others.  Each was asked to “write a short letter to the young readers of today and tomorrow about how reading sculpted their character and their destiny.” (Maria Popova, “Introduction,” A Velocity of Being). 

As if that were not enough, every letter is accompanied by a work of art created in response to that particular message.  The works by illustrators, graphic designers and other artists are exquisite, adding a rich layer of interpretation to the letter.

Just a few examples:

  1. In the first letter Jacqueline Woodson writes of reading to her young son and impulsively kissing “the top of my son’s mohawked head.” (p. 16)  Lara Hawthorne captures the moment beautifully.
  2. Leonard Marcus encourages us to pack books carefully when moving. “Not many things in life can be counted as ‘permanent possessions.’  But a few things can, and our favorite books are among them.” (p. 158)  Julia Rothman’s illustration shows the chaos of boxes being packed to move with one carefully marked “PERMANENT POSSESSIONS.”
  3. “The world itself is all beautiful” Andrew Solomon writes, “but sometimes it can be hard to see that, and books let you understand moments of beauty you might otherwise miss.” (p. 100) He writes about loneliness, justice, kindness, sadness, happiness and more, two sentences at a time.  Catarina Sobral used bright, bold, primary colors to portray a child whose world is upended by reading a book.

I haven’t read every letter – yet.  Nor have I spent time musing over every illustration – yet.  A Velocity of Being will take some time to absorb and to enjoy – one letter, one picture at a time.

Read about Maria Popova’s creative vision for the book and see some of the many exquisite illustrations by visiting her blog:  A Velocity of Being: Illustrated Letters to Children about Why We Read.

Cabin Fever on Another Snow Day

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Snow drift through the sun room window. Glad for the sun. Not so glad for the wind – except to see the fabulous shapes being sculpted. Photo: TLClark.

My beloved suggested I could write about Cabin Fever.  We’ve reached the age where “better safe than sorry” guides decisions.  We’ve both driven enough miles on snow/ice covered interstates or in gusty cold winds to know that snow/ice covered plus gusty cold winds is a recipe for disaster.  So we’ve rescheduled today’s appointments in Iowa City which were the rescheduled appointments from yesterday.

What to do?

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Photo:  TLClark.

  1. Play games on the computer (seems to have become the default option).
  2. Read a book (another common default option).
  3. Pull out an old fashioned board game or maybe a deck of cards.
  4. Memorize a poem.
  5. Work on the puzzle.
  6. Do some genealogy sleuthing.
  7. Sort those old pictures and get them boxed to mail to someone who will enjoy having them.
  8. Play the piano/keyboard.

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    This puzzle was a challenge the first time around – not sure why we decided to do it again.  Photo:  TLClark.

  9. Watch a movie.
  10. Bake cookies.
  11. Clean the bathrooms.
  12. Clean out a drawer or a closet.
  13. Write a sympathy note or a thinking of you card – with pen and paper.
  14. Be creative in the sewing room.

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    Clockwise from top right:  a) Hand sew the binding on scrappy strip quilt. b) Free motion quilt the butterfly quilt. c) Add sashing to the finished blocks and join them into a quilt top. d) Start an entirely new project using fabric from the bins in the corner.  Photo:  TLClark.

  15. Use the colored pencils to draw something new or color in a coloring book.
  16. Sort, discard or keep, categorize eleven years of digital photos.
  17. Plan another series of blog posts.
  18. Call Mom & Dad or Grandma Mary.
  19. Sort through a box full of old church papers; recycle most of it.
  20. Work on taxes.
  21. _________________________________

What would you add to the list?  What would choose first?