Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New location

I've decided to move my blogging to another site.  From now on, look for my writing at .

Hope to hear from you there.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inside a Book

I've always thought it'd be interesting to be able to step into the world of many of the books I've read. When I was young and people read to me, I often imagined doing so. By the time I'd gotten older and was reading to my own children there were books build around entering other times-- Choose Your Own Adventure books and then the Magic Treehouse series. I think I probably enjoyed reading each of them as much as the kids did because I pictured myself entering each world. But it wasn't until I'd read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart that I actually heard someone else describe reading yourself into another world the way I'd always imagined it. I didn't particularly like the Inkheart world - it wasn't one of the worlds I'd like to enter- but I read the series because I loved reading her descriptions of people listening to a book being read and then finding themselves in the world of that book.

I wouldn't want to enter the storyline of most of the books I've read, just the world. I'm more interested in exploring the world and what it offers. For example, I've no interest in joining Harry Potter in fighting Voldemort, but I'd love to see the pictures and trading cards that move, the "live" chocolate frogs, the pensieve, the sorting hat, and a lot of Diagonal Alley. And imagine being able to do that without the inconvenience or expense of current air travel!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Favorite Author?

         Since I don’t have a favorite book, I’d find it hard to choose an all time favorite author.  If push came to shove and I was forced to choose a favorite, I’d probably go with whatever author I’m currently enjoying.  Right now that’s Connie Willis, the author through whose historical novel-sci fi books I’m slowly making my way.  Last month, my favorite author would have been Robert J. Sawyer.  The month before it was Geraldine Brooks.  Next month it’ll probably be either China Mieville or Robert Charles Wilson, since I’ve got Embassytown and Vortex in my TBR soon pile. 

            While I don’t have a favorite author, I do have authors whose new works I will always try to read.  These include a wide range of authors.  Besides those I’ve already listed (and those I read regularly for more “professional” reasons), they would include mystery writers like Patricia Cornwell and Laurie King (though I’m having a hard time with her most recent Mary Russell mystery), novelists like Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver, Lisa Genova, and Anna Quindlan, environmental essayists like Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, and Michael Pollan, and a whole slew of science fiction writers. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Favorite Book?

            When I was young, once I was reading on my own, I always seemed to have a favorite book (and often a favorite series).  When I was first reading chapter books, there were Ruth Gannett’s Elmer and the Dragon
as a book and comics as my “series.”  As my reading improved a bit these changed to Jane Trahey’s Life with Mother Superior, John Gunther’s Death Be Not Proud, and Nancy Drew mysteries.  In early high school it was Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Herman Hesse’s novels, especially Narcissus and Goldmund.  

 As high school ended it was John Gardner’s Grendel and Loren Eiseley’s essays.  In college I was always quoting Elie Wiesel’s books, especially his non-fiction, and T.S. Eliot’s poetry.  At Union, that became Adrienne Rich’s poetry and Nikos Kazantzakis’s books (though never Zorba).  Since then I’ve got through periods where it’s been the novels of Robertson Davies, Wendell Berry’s poetry, essays and novels, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, and Kathleen Dean Moore’s amazing essays.

            Today, however, if you asked me what my favorite book is, I don’t think I have one. I know which book I spend the most time with – the Bible—though that’s largely for work and if I could only take one book with me to be stranded on an island, that’d probably be it, but it’s not my favorite book in the way that some of these others have been.  I’ve read a lot of books that I’ve enjoyed recently, but none stands out.  I’m at a loss for why that is.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summertime Friday Five

It's been a while since I've had a chance to do a Revgalblogpals Friday Five, so we must really have moved into the slightly slower speed of early summer!  Today, we're asked to "share five things that are happening in your life, personally or professionally or some of each, in this season of life.

  1.  For me, the biggest thing in summer is the garden which at the moment is full of  peas, zucchini, beets, carrots, and collard greens ready to harvest.  All the radishes, sugar snap peas, kale, and garlic have been brought in already but tomatoes, other squash, eggplants, cabbage, sweet potatoes and more are on their way.  And so far this year, while we’ve had a groundhog and deer in the back yard, neither has made its way over the new fence to eat the plants.
  2. Workwise (until August when I take my vacation break from both) I continue to both do my pastoral job and teach philosophy at a local college. But starting next week, my denomination (PCUSA) will have officially begun to live without G-6.0106b—yes!—so it’ll be a chance for this out lesbian pastor to switch my energies toward getting the denomination to allow same-gender marriages.
  3.  I’ve started participating in a year-long online version of a nonviolent communication group and am both enjoying working more thoroughly on some of the ideas in Rosenberg’s book and trying to apply them in my daily life.
  4. At home we’ve been inundated with unexpected plumbing problems that are setting us back thousands of dollars that we hadn’t budgeted.  It feels a bit overwhelming, especially for the summertime, and the work is by no means done yet.
  5. And, though I only discovered it last evening, I’m very excited about the possibility of practicing flute in my county’s Really Terrible Orchestra.  The music is a bit intimidating for someone who had less than a year of flute lessons a good number of years ago but the contact people have been lovely and I’ve very psyched about what fun this might be!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


            We stayed in the Majestic Hotel  in Satorini, on the outskirts of Fira, from May 26th to May 29th.  It was a beautiful hotel- 

simple, tasteful rooms, separate patios (ours looking out on the Santorini volcano that some think caused Atlantis to sink), three swimming pools, a breakfast room, a great dining room, and more.  It was a great place to relax.  The first night we arrived, we ate in its Crocus restaurant where I had a wonderful vegetable lasagna as an appetizer and a very good pasta with mushrooms as the second course. 
The next morning we had a late breakfast at the Capparis restaurant- a buffet with lots of pastries, fruit, eggs, quiche, etc.  Then we headed to the pool to spend our Friday relaxing, swimming, and reading. 

The water in the pool was cold and there was a real breeze but it was still sunny so I ended up with a burn on my face and arms.  Friday evening we had room service bring in dinner.
  Saturday after breakfast we walked into Fira to see what the town was like.   We strolled up to the top of the town. 

(Fira is perched on the top of a cliff and has small, stepped streets so that you climb up little by little to its height by the cable cars.)   Along the way we stopped in the Ypapanti Church to get out of the sun for a few minutes.  When we got to the cable car station,

 Kathy decided to ride down to the old port and back while I waited and watched those who chose to take the donkey ride route instead. (Kathy is in the blue shirt toward the left in the left cable car.)  There were some great views of the water and the town from that location.

After that we had lunch in one of the restaurants on Ypapantis Street and then headed back toward the hotel.  We stopped at the supermarket and picked up some food so that we could have a picnic dinner.  Because we had to be ready to be picked up at 5 am for the ride to the Santorini airport, where we’d get a flight to the Athens airport to head home, we headed to bed very early.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cruising Days 3 and 4

            On Wednesday May 25th we got a late start because we’d stayed up the evening before to see what entertainment on the ship was like.  There was supposed to be a traditional Greek dancing show, which followed a Ms. Aphrodite contest.  Both were awful.  The “traditional dancing” was done by the ship’s crew, most of whom had very little skill in dancing, much less traditional dancing.  Disappointed, we left part-way through the show.

            We disbarked the ship in the late morning and spent most of the day in Rhodes.

 Rhodes bills itself as the largest medieval town in Europe and, aside from Obidos Portugal, it was the first walled in city that I’d visited.  After walking along the outer walls a bit, we entered through one of the gates and headed toward Ippoton Street (the Street of the Knights).  Before that, though, we stopped at the Hospital of the Knights, built in 1440 and now housing the archaeological museum, though there wasn’t a huge amount of interesting things to see in the main courtyard and my leg was too sore (and we were both too tired) to climb up the stairs to the second floor with its various rooms.  

Then we started up Ippoton Street toward the Palace of the Grand Master.  

The street itself is in marvelous shape and seems (at least to someone like me who doesn’t know much of the history) to have kept much of the 14th and 15th century style that it had when the Knights Templar came to Rhodes from Italy to escape persecution. 

            After walking past the Palace, we decided to stop at one of the many restaurants on Polidorou Street to eat and people watch a bit. 

We passed the Mosque of Suleiman (named after the Sultan who led a siege of Rhodes in 1522). Then we headed down Sokratous Street with its tons of merchants and shops, bought a bracelet for Becca and a handmade bowl for Dan, and then headed back to the ship.  We ate dinner up by the swimming pool and watched the sun set as the ship pulled out and headed toward Crete.

            On Thursday when we woke up we were docked in Heraklion, Crete. We headed out very early for a 7 am trip to Knossos.  We boarded a bus and headed through the town of Heraklion itself, 

passing a statue of three of the most famous artists connected with Crete—the writer Nikos Kazantzakis, the painter El Greco (who I’d always thought of as Spanish with an Italian influence but of course his being Greek makes sense given his name.  Apparently during his time in Crete it was under Venetian control—thus the Italian influence), and the poet Vincenzo Kornaros (who I’d never heard of until the tour guide mentioned him).  Most of the city wasn’t very attractive but then the part of Crete that is supposed to be green and beautiful is on the other side of the island.

            We arrived in Knossos, some of the earliest Minoan ruins.  I’d first learned about Knossos in a book called The Chalice and the Blade. In it the author had posited that Knossos reflected a civilization that had complete gender equality.  While I knew that much of her research was considered speculative at best, it still intrigued me.  I was also interested in seeing Knossos because many think of it as the origin of the story of the Minotaur in the labyrinth, since Knossos palace was said to have had more than 1000 interlocking rooms, forming a labyrinthine structure.  It was also thought to be the basis for the word itself since  the labyris (the double sided axe) was scratched into many of the stones in the palace.  

When we got to the site of the palace, there were so many tour groups waiting that we were in a very long line.  The guide told us about Arthur Evans and showed us lots of pictures in the book she carried with her, but she also tried to rush our group from area to area to ‘beat out’ other tour groups getting in line.  That meant that each time we got to an interesting location, we weren’t given much time to see it but instead spent a lot of our time waiting in lines that had nothing interesting to look at.   The queen’s chamber, with its dolphins on the wall and its toilet system was the most interesting part of the tour.  There was no sense, at least with the way we went through the place, of how labyrinthine it was and there was barely time to look at the frescoes that had been left on the walls (all of which were given Arthur Evans’ interpretation of them). 

            After Crete we headed back to our cabin to pack our bags so that, when we arrive at Santorini around 3 pm we could leave the Louis Majesty and spend a few days relaxing on the island.  At 3:30 –after all the people staying on the boat had disembarked—we were called to line up on Deck 2.  When we got there, they hadn’t even loaded our luggage (which they’d picked up several hours earlier) on the ferry.  They had people and luggage trying to come onto the ship but there was almost no way they could do so in the chaos of  the luggage of those of us leaving.  We waited and waited – while they tried to make a line of people to lift luggage, while they tried to figure out how to stack it on the ferry, while the ferry took off with the luggage but without us—and finally another hour or so later, we were allowed to get on the ferry.  When we arrived at the Santorini dock, they had dumped all the luggage in a chaotic pile right next to the water.  It took a while to locate our luggage and then find the shuttle bus that was driving us to our hotel, the Majestic.  By the time we arrived that evening we were very happy to be staying in one location for several days.