Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Reading Update

Book #11 of the year was An Episode of Sparrows, by Rumer Godden. I have been gradually trying to read all of Godden's books, and I enjoyed this one. It has the kind of prose style that I don't think Chat-GPT could replicate, because there is so clearly a human storyteller brain at work. This is a quiet, old-fashioned story.

Book #12 was the 2023 Newbery winner, Freewater, by Amina Luqman-Dawson. This is the story of two children who escape from enslavement and discover that there is a community of escapees like themselves living in the swamp. This is based on true stories of a similar community in the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia. At times this read like a superhero adventure, and at other times like a harrowing story of abuse. I can really imagine it being made into a movie, and I hope it will be, because I can't picture what the sky bridge described in the book might look like. 

Book #13 was the third and final installment of the Inheritance Games series, The Final Gambit, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I liked it, and it kept me reading, but the incorrect Latin irritated me. 

Book #14 was a re-re-re-re-re-read, Ultimate Prizes, by Susan Howatch. Sometimes you just need to read something familiar. I wrote more about this series here.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Spiritual Journey Thursday: The Words We Fall Back On

It is not Thursday, and this post was supposed to be written by March 2nd. But the prompt was so good that I couldn't resist doing it, even though I am late.

This month's host, Karen, asked us to share some words that we keep returning to, words that are touchstones for us. I have a folder on my computer desktop called "Mantras," though that really isn't a very good name for what's in the folder. There's a whole variety of quotes and prayers, and even a note sent by a friend. These are all too long to be a true mantra, which is supposed to be very short and easy to repeat. 

Here are a very few of the items in my folder:

"You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. In such an event, courage is the authentic form taken by love.

" Thomas Merton

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”  Reinhold Neibuhr



"The world is full of dark shadows to be sure, both the world without and the world within, and the road we’ve set off on is long and hard and often hard to find, but the word is trust. Trust the deepest intuitions of your own heart, trust the source of your own truest gladness, trust the road, trust him. And praise him too. Praise him for all we leave behind us in our traveling. Praise him for all we lose that lightens our feet, for all that the long road of the years bears off like a river. Praise him for stillness in the wake of pain. But praise him too for the knowledge that what’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and that all the dark there ever was, set next to the light, would scarcely fill a cup." Frederick Buechner 

And here's one of my favorite Bible verses: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17

Thank you for this prompt, Karen!

Friday, March 10, 2023

Poetry Friday: Theater

In addition to my already full schedule, I've been helping with the school play, "The Tempest," complete with 80s music. It's been so much fun, and I've been thinking a lot about what a great thing it is for kids to be in a play, how it's making something together, something real. It's the closest I'll ever come to being part of a sports team. 

Here's a poem I found about a theater, and I especially love this line: "A false world ends in real debris." True, that.



For the Demolition of a Theater

by Elder James Olson


The player was neither king nor clown;

Of tragedy or comedy,

Truth is the last catastrophe.


Paper castles, too, fall down;

Spider and mouse have always known

A false world ends in real debris.


Here's the rest. 




And because I want to include a feather, for my OLW:

Heidi's hosting today's roundup.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Reading Update

Book #5 of 2023 was The Hawthorne Legacy, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This is the second in the Inheritance Games series. I finished the first one last month, and the third one is on hold.

Book #6 was I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown. The first chapter of this book is called "White People Are Exhausting." As an exhausting white person, I admit I had to fight feelings of defensiveness as I read this book. But I kept telling myself that it is a great opportunity to get such a clear picture of someone else's perceptions. I really get that it's hard to be in a minority, and the history of race in the United States is a brutal one. I will try to be less exhausting henceforth. 

Book #7 was Rescue, by Anita Shreve. There's lots of rescuing going on in this novel. The protagonist is an EMT, and he meets a woman in the course of his job who needs rescuing. Then later others need to be rescued from her, and in the end there are still more rescues. I like Anita Shreve's books, and I just found that I have reported on six of her others on this blog.

Book #8 was One Day, by David Nicholls. Dexter and Emma meet in 1988, and the "one day" of the title is July 15th of that year. The rest of the book takes us to July 15th of each succeeding year, and shows us the ups and downs of "Dex and Em." I did enjoy this book, and I liked the structure. It went in some directions I didn't see coming. I understand there's also a movie.

Book #9 was Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding, by Scott Weidensaul. This was a fascinating read, with lots of great bird stories and ornithological name-dropping. It's thirteen years old, so it's not up to the minute on current birding culture, and there's a tiny bit too much griping about people who are more interested in adding to their Life Lists than they are in actually learning about birds. I highly recommend this book for people who are as obsessed with the topic as I am.

Book #10 was one of the best books I've read in a while, Solito: A Memoir, by Javier Zamora. Wow! Wow! This is the story of nine-year-old Javier, whose parents are in the US while he has been left in El Salvador, and how he attempts to join them. It is so full of vivid detail and emotion that I felt as though I was along for the journey. There's a lot of Spanish in the book. I've been studying Spanish for just over a year now, and I was pleased with how much I could understand, but since a lot of the point of the Spanish is to show the different ways the language is spoken in the different countries Javier passes through and how that affects everyone, a little glossary in the back would have helped me out. I felt as though I missed out on some of what was going on, just as I would have had I really been in this group in 1999. But oh, what a read! I could hardly put it down, and my heart was with Javier each moment. I couldn't help thinking of the Haitian children living some version of this drama right now.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Poetry Friday: Snow

Today I have some poems about snow. The first two are haiku based on photos sent me by friends last week (click on the picture to enlarge it). Then there's another snow poem, or at least a snow-adjacent poem, I wrote recently. I wanted to include the word Feather somewhere, since that's my OLW, so I went searching for a poem that compared snow to feathers, and the post ends with that.


Snow Moon, 2023

seven or eight hours in their future,
(depending on the time zone,
since my grown-up children
live in two separate ones),
I go outside
in the warm night
to look at the
Snow Moon.

I imagine myself
seeing the same
that they will see
once their part of the earth
circles round.

in the Ugandan dry season,
the Snow Moon hides
thick, white clouds
that will
bring snow.

©Ruth Bowen Hersey

I'm going to share one stanza of this poem; there are four. Follow the link to read the rest of it.

from The Snow Arrives After Long Silence


by Nancy Willard


...The cat at my window watches

amazed. So many feathers and no bird!

All day the snow sets its table

with clean linen, putting its house in order.

The hungry deer walk


Here's the rest. 

The marvelous Molly has today's roundup.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Poetry Friday: Feather


by Lew R. Sarett

High in the noon's bright bowl of blue

I saw an idling eagle tilt

His suave white wings.  As smooth he flew

As water flows on silt.

He wheeled; a feather from his wing

Fluttered from out the clean clear dome

And sank on the grassy carpeting,

Soft as a moth on foam. 

The rest is here.

And speaking of light and beautiful things like feathers, here's a song I found this week by Pat Kalla & Le Super Mojo. The lyrics, in French, are in the comments on the video. My favorite ones:

"Pleurer, c’est une rivière au fond des yeux qui déborde quand il pleut  

Pleurer, c’est dessiner la mélancolie avec un pinceau tout gris  

Pleurer, c’est déranger les anges qui dorment sous tes paupières  

Qui secouent leurs ailes toutes mouillées 

 Et vont au soleil se sécher..."


My translation:


"Crying is a river deep in the eyes that overflows when it rains

Crying is drawing melancholy with a gray paintbrush 

Crying is bothering the angels that are sleeping under your eyelids

That shake their wet wings

And go into the sun to dry themselves..."

Laura has this week's roundup.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Spiritual Journey Thursday: The Colors of My Life

This month our host for Spiritual Journey Thursday, Bob, asked us to think about colors. He wrote, "We are all called to be shining lights for others to follow. Are your lights bright and bold so that others can see them in the distance or are they soft and muted so that others won’t notice them until they are near you? What color is your light?"


I am not sure how to answer what color my light is, but I do know that I have been loving the colors I have been seeing lately in Uganda, my new home. They are a beautiful gift. Here are some recent colors.



"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17.

Check out other people's responses to this prompt here!