Sunday, July 20, 2014

If You Can't Beat 'Em

I can't believe we're already more than half-way through July! The summer is going fast and I am being kept oh-so-busy!

As I was catching up on my blog reading the other day, I saw a post from fellow blogger, Janet Sumner Johnson, who's decided to "succumb and embrace the crazy". That is to say, she's taking a summer break. I had a light-bulb moment: why not join her? I'm sure the world won't come to an end and my faithful readers will still be here when I return in September.

I expect  to do my usual posting at Inscribe on the 30th of July and August and will post those links when I have them.

Otherwise, see you in September - hope you have a fantastic summer!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book Review: Dear Photograph

Author: Taylor Jones
Publisher: William Morrow, 2012

A small coffee-table type book, this is a collection of photographs based on a unique idea from 21-year-old Taylor Jones: take an old photograph, return to the location where it was taken, line the image up with the real-life setting, and take a new picture that incorporates the original.

There are some neat photos in this book, along with brief captions that range from humorous to poignant. My favourites honour the special grandfathers in the photographers' lives. The saddest remember relationships now broken, and I hope this book helps restore what's been lost for those individuals.

Jones maintains a website where you can see photos people have submitted and where you can submit your own 'Dear Photograph'.

While I don't truly see the need for the book, I do like the idea and the website. But if the book helps pay for Jones' post-secondary education, I say kudos!

Three stars.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: The Death of Donna Whalen

Author: Michael Winter
Publisher: Penguin, 2010
Image of THE DEATH OF DONNA WHALEN
Often compared with Truman Capote's classic, In Cold Blood, this book is written in the style of documentary fiction. The author makes much use of trial transcripts from an actual case as he tells the story of victim Donna Whalen and of Sheldon Troke, the accused.

Set in St. John's, Newfoundland, Winter, captures the dialect well, and omits punctuation (for example, "didn't" is spelled "didnt" throughout). The bulk of the story takes place in the courtroom as different witnesses are questioned in the stand. There is much going back and forth between characters as a result, and this causes confusion for the reader. Although each character is identified as a new section begins, it's difficult to keep track of who is speaking and to maintain the flow of the story.

The Donna Whalen story is tragic and I'm glad I know more about it (the real people involved were Brenda Young and Randy Druken, whose case you can Google). But I think I'd have gotten more out of it as a book of true crime, rather than from this style of writing.

Just two out of five stars for me.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Inscribing

Today you can find me at Inscribe, where I talk a little bit about my love of words and my writing journey. I hope you'll stop by!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dear Sage

I used to read 'Ann Landers' all the time, and 'Dear Abby' less often. Today I regularly read 'Dear Prudence'. There's something about advice columns that draws me, I guess. I don't know if it's because I'm interested in the various problems people present, the advice that is given, or both. Or maybe it's because when you read about the situations, you realize your own life is actually pretty good. 

Anyway, I sometimes (maybe even often) disagree with the advice these columnists dish out. That could well be because they come at issues from a secular worldview or from a different faith background. 

I've always been considered a good listener and people frequently come to me for guidance or feedback on different things they are wrestling with. As a result, I seriously considered a career in psychology in earlier years, and psychology was one of my university majors.

So... I thought I would make 'Dear Sage' a regular feature of my blog, assuming I can get readers to send in their questions.

To get us started, here is a sample letter and response, based on a real life situation:
Dear Sage,
I've been seeing my boyfriend "Calum" for about a year now. We are both entering our sophomore year of high school. Calum's mom has made it my responsibility to make sure he gets up in the morning and has his breakfast. (We don't live together, by the way). This is really frustrating and is making me mad at him. What should I do?
Signed,
My Boyfriend's Mother

Whoa! I'm not sure if you're calling yourself your boyfriend's mother, or indicating that you think she's the problem. But anyway, it's not your role to mother Calum and it's not fair of his mother to assign you that job. If Calum's in high school, it's his own job to get out of bed and get breakfast.
Have a chat with him and let him know that this has been causing problems in your relationship and you don't want to be angry at him any more. Therefore, you're going to trust that he will get himself up in the future and look after his own dietary needs. Yes, you care about him, but you're no longer going to take on the mother role. He knows what he needs to do and your nagging isn't helping.
Calum might go without breakfast a few times or miss the morning bus to school, but that'll teach him more effectively than you getting after him.
You might also ask yourself if Calum's mother approves of your relationship or not. It sounds like she has set you up to fail.
Yours in wisdom,
Sage
_______________

You can send your questions to Sage by e-mailing dear[dot]sage1[at]gmail.com

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

My niece got married last Saturday. I think I'm pretty safe in sharing this photo, since you can't make out their faces too closely.

The wedding and reception were beautiful; in fact, the entire day was beautiful. Sunny and warm, without a drop of rain.

The bride was stunning and she and her groom clearly enjoyed their day and are very much in love.

The occasion got me thinking about traditions; what we are keeping and what we may be losing, for better or worse (pun intended). For example, we received our invitation by snail mail, but RSVPs were to be e-mailed to the bride. I can see the huge savings in postage if you've invited, say, a hundred people, but I worried about the possibility of our response getting lost in cyberspace, and in fact, this is what happened. I got a Facebook message from my niece a couple of weeks before the wedding, asking if we were coming. This created a bit of a panic in my daughter, who worried that we wouldn't "get in".

The bridal party was small, which was nice, but I did miss the presence of a flower girl. Then again, perhaps my niece and her groom didn't know any little girls who could take on this role. And it can be a tiring day for little ones, especially if they are participants in the action.

The music was piped in, not live, and that was okay too. It got the job done. No jitters for a soloist, or technical difficulties such as the one I faced when I sang at my cousin's wedding. In that case the pianist was supposed to accompany me, but opted out without warning, so it was just my voice and my husband's guitar. It worked out, but still; it caused a bit of confusion.

A neat feature of Saturday's ceremony was the mingling together of two vials of sand (his 'n hers, so to speak). This expressed the coming together of two people into one family or unit. Similar to the unity candle idea, in which two candles lit by the mothers are then used by the couple to light a larger single candle. In this wedding, both symbols were used - the candles and the sand. The nice thing about the sand is that it's a memento they can keep on display in their home "ever after".

The ceremony itself was fairly traditional, apart from the sand thing, which I'd never seen before. There were the wedding vows, the exchange of rings, the signing of the register, the 'you may kiss the bride', and the introduction of husband and wife. Also, the giving in marriage by the bride's parents and a receiving line afterwards.

The reception was also fairly traditional - a buffet meal followed by various speeches. The bride and groom got around to each of the guest tables to chat with those who'd come to celebrate the day. There was the couple's first dance, but no wedding cake in sight, and therefore, no cutting of it. Of course, if you're not going to eat the cake and it's primarily a prop, I suppose you might ask what the point is.

Not so traditional was the anointing of the couple with oil by the bride's father. This was a first for me, but I thought it was a really neat idea. Marriage is a holy covenant, ordained by God, and the oil, complete with fragrances of frankincense and myrrh (to represent the groom), spikenard (to represent the bride) and hyssop (representing the Holy Spirit) was used to mark a cross on the foreheads of my niece and her new husband to show that they are set apart for each other and for God.

Our family really enjoyed the celebration from start to finish, and any observations are just that - observations - lest anyone think I am criticizing apparent 'omissions' from the day. After all, I got some ideas in the event that one or both of my own children get married some day :) And we saw something old and something new. 

As for the title of the post, 'something borrowed, something blue', I have no idea if that tradition was followed or not. I wasn't asked to lend anything and I didn't see anything blue, apart from the sky.

Much love, and wishes for lifelong happiness, to AL and C. May God richly bless your marriage as only He can.

And now, dear reader, do you have any wedding traditions (old, new, or new-to-you) that you'd like to share with me? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Gilead

Author: Marilynne Robinson
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2004

Gilead: A Novel Beautifully written, I could see why this title won the Pulitzer Prize.

Deals intensely with matters of faith and the heart. At times theologically over my head, but very thought-provoking and insightful.
  The author is in a league of her own.


A few favourite quotes from the book:
So my advice is this—don’t look for proofs. Don’t bother with them at all. They are never sufficient to the question, and they’re always a little impertinent, I think, because they claim for God a place within our conceptual grasp. And they will likely sound wrong to you even if you convince someone else with them.
 Christianity is a life, not a doctrine . . . I'm not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you would make honest use of it. I'm saying you must be sure that the doubts and questions are your own.
 Now that I look back, it seems to me that in all that deep darkness a miracle was preparing. So I am right to remember it as a blessed time, and myself as waiting in confidence, even if I had no idea what I was waiting for.
Recommended for lovers of literary and spiritual fiction.
 ___________

Read for the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge