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Category Archives: non-fiction

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Louis Zamperini in her novel Unbroken “is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.”

The men had been adrift for twenty-seven days.  Borne by an equatorial current, they had floated at least one thousand miles, deep into Japanese-controlled waters.

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I miss Molly Ivins (a snippet from one of her books)

How I miss reading Molly Ivin’s column!

Excerpt from Molly Ivin’s book You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You.

Heart attacks, grand juries, DWI’s, divorces–this isn’t a story, it’s a saga.  Of course there is a different between [Bob] Bullock in his drinking days and Bullock today–he’s not quite a different person, but he sure is easier.  He went off to “Whiskey School” in California in 1981.  Six weeks later he returned to Austin in the middle of the night, sober and alone.  Only one person came out to the airport to meet him–Ann Richards.  He has never forgotten that kindness.

Just a couple of stories from the drinking years: One night Bullock and pal Nick Kralj (Bullock used to have any number of reprehensible friends) got bad drunk, went into the basement of Kralj’s nightclub, and proceeded to shoot roaches with pistols.  They claimed it took great skill.

On another occasion, one of Bullock’s early wives kicked him out of the house, presumably for good cause.  So he went to crash with his friend Carlton Carl, who was himself out drinking.  Unable to get into Carl’s apartment, Bullock crawled into the backseat of Carl’s car, which was parked in an alley, got under a blanket, and passed out there.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t Carl’s car, just looked like it.  When Bullock came to the next morning, he was being driven along I-35 by a total stranger who had no idea anyone was in the backseat.  After pondering his options, Bullock sat up and said to the unsuspecting citizen, “Hi there, I’m Bob Bullock, your secretary of state.”  Poor guy almost drove off the road.

the inner voice of love

In the introduction to Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love, he writes that “This book is my secret journal.  It was written during the most difficult period of my life, from December 1987 to June 1988.  That was a time of extreme anguish, during which I wondered whether I would be able to hold on to my life.  Everything came crashing down–my self-esteem, my energy to live and work, my sense of being loved, my hope for healing, my trust in God . . . everything.  Here I was, a writer about the spiritual life, known as someone who loves God and gives hope to people, flat on the ground and in total darkness.

“What had happened?  I had come face to face with my own nothingness.  It was as if all that had given my life meaning was pulled away and I could see nothing in front of me but a bottomless abyss.”

Excerpt from the chapter entitled “Claim Your Unique Presence in Your Community”

Your unique presence in your community is the way God wants you to be present to others.  Different people have different ways of being present.  You have to know and claim your way.  That is why discernment is so important.  Once you have an inner knowledge of your true vocation, you have a point of orientation.  That will help you decide what to do and what to let go of, what to say and what to remain silent about, when to go out and when to stay home, who to be with and who to avoid.

When you get exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, or run down, your body is saying that you are doing things that are none of your business.  God does not require of you what is beyond your ability, what leads you away from God, or what makes you depressed or sad.  God wants you to live for others and to live that presence well.  Doing so might involve suffering, fatigue, and even moments of great physical or emotional pain, but none of this must ever pull you away from your deepest self and God.

Your unique presence in your community is the way God wants you to be present to others.  Different people have different ways of being present.  You have to know and claim your way.

Finders Keepers

If you have not been to the McKee ‘dig’  in Seguin, take a trip out there and learn about all of the artifacts that have been (and are being) found on this property.  It is amazing.

Michael Cary wrote about this find in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise June 17, 2008:

SEGUIN — Local archeologist Robert “Bob” Everett paid a visit Thursday morning to an excavation site where hundreds of arrowheads, spear points and other Native American artifacts were recently uncovered along the banks of the Guadalupe River.

“This is the richest archeological site I’ve seen on the Guadalupe River in 35 years,” said Everett, a steward with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Archeological Stewardship Network.

Craig Childs writes “with lyrical grace” about searching for relics.  Finders Keepers is a Great Read.

From Child’s book:

“It is a job.  Workers go out and dig.  They pull up every artifact they find.  Perfectly legal and not entirely academic, it is a workingman’s science.  Plats and blueprints tell where to excavate.  Practitioners are known as “salvage” or “rescue” archaeologists.  In information circles, they call themselves “shovel bums,” toiling through cities and along pipelines, where they remove all pertinent archaeology in the way of development.

“There is a growing demand for this particular brand of archaeologist.  Backhoes are digging up slave cemeteries and ancient pagodas, forcing cities to cough up their dead, and somebody has to deal with it.  Roman burials are cropping up in London while archaeologists in downtown Miami ponder a circle of postholes that were cut into bedrock a couple of thousand years ago, doing so on behalf of a frustrated developer who has been planning luxury condominiums for this spot.  After thousands of years of traffic, a marketplace in Cairo recently revealed a temple containing a four-ton statue of Ramses II that had been right under people’s feet.  Even in the slums of Mexico City, pieces of the fallen Aztec Empire keep showing up.  In 2006, construction work exposed a thirteen ton stone carving of an earth goddess, and when salvage archaeologists went in they discovered it was topping the tomb of an Aztec emperor.  This could be the biggest discovery in Mexican history, as they dig through the city’s wet,mucky foundations to find it.”

“. . . In his essay on whether we can actually harm the dead, Geoffrey Scarre of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Durham, England, wrote, ‘Whilst a bone may be no more animate than a stone, it is the relic of a man or woman who once thought and felt, was happy and sad, loved and feared as we do.  To disinter or disturb it, or to subject it to chemical or physical analysis, is to take a liberty–not with the thing itself but with the person to whom it once belonged.’ “

devotion and grief

“What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.”

“. . . It’s taken years for me to understand that dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it.  Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue.  Most of us wander in and out of another’s lives until not death, but distance, does us part — time and space and the heart’s weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.”

“. . . The heart breaks open,” a friend said to me upon Clementine’s death.  I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.  Sometimes I think that the pain is what yields the solution.  Grief and memory create their own narrative: This is the shining truth at the heart of Freud and Neruda and every war story ever told.  The death mandates and gives rise to the story for the same reason that ancient tribes used to bury flowers with their dead.  We tell the story to get them back, to capture the traces of footfalls through the snow.”

snippets from books

 

. . . Subsequently the tabloids made much of our different backgrounds, the working-class Jewish boy from the East End and the Catholic aristocrat with her title.  But we were, in our early forties, a long way from our backgrounds and, as usual with the tabloids, these descriptions were more for headlines than accuracy.  Although Harold was technically born into the working class–his father worked in a tailoring factory–ever since the success of The Caretaker in 1960 he had been extremely well-off by most standards: he was able, for example, to retire his father, worn-out with his labours, to salubrious Hove where his parents would live happily for another thirty years.

Again technically, since my father was an earl and my mother a countess, I could be argued to be an aristocrat.  But my father, born Frank Pakenham, only succeeded to the Earldom of Longford when I was nearly thirty; my childhood was spent in a modest North Oxford house, my father, with no private income, teaching at the University.  My mother, being a Harley Street doctor’s daughter, was in any case convinced (and thus convinced us) that the middle classes were the salt of the earth whereas the aristocracy was feckless, unpunctual and extravagant, an assumption that our beloved father’s attitude to life did nothing to discourage.  I had no inherited money myself, and had earned my own living since the age of twenty-one, first working for a publisher and, after marriage, by journalism and books.

inter-connectedness

Although genealogy can be used to justify privilege, it can also be used to impart values.  While in certain eras it has appeared to be the preserver of society’s elites, its universal application bespeaks the importance of origins for all humanity.  It can be used to divide, yet the myriad relationships it uncovers imply the interconnectedness of the human race.

– David Thackery, “Editor’s Note” [Communities of Kinship Antebellum Families and the Settlement of the Cotton Frontier by Carolyn Earle Billingsley]

My ancestor, Susan Elizabeth “Susie” Glenn with her sisters (Mary Ellen, Ethel Mae, and Emma Jane) when they attended Cherokee Female Seminary at Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

They were the daughters of Jesse Edward Glenn (1848 – 1902) and Margaret Leann Cowan (1851-1895) and granddaughters of Henry Glenn (ca 1805 – before 1880) and Jennie Foreman (1816 – 1881).

Jennie Foreman’s Cherokee ancestor was Richard Bark “OO-YA-LU-GI ”  Foreman (ca 1779 – after 1843) and Julia Talley (died approximately 1816).

Register of Persons Who Wish Reservations under the Treaty of July 8, 1817

July 1817

#11 – Bark Forman – two in family – on the road from McNairs to Knoxville
No. of Reservation:  12

Richard Bark Foreman’s mother was Susie Gourd “Kah-tah-yah” /Gourd (Rattling-gourd), a full-blood Cherokee of the Paint Clan.  His father was John Anthony Foreman, a Scotsman (perhaps born in Scotland . . . and perhaps in Pennsylvania), who was a trader among the Indians.

TENNESSEE PASSPORTS
Knoxville
11th March 1797

Sir,

My instructions from the Honorable the Secretary of War require that I report to you the names of all persons residing in the Cherokee country not natives of the land.

For this purpose I have collected the following Schedule of their names & employments which I am induced to believe is tolerable accurate.

[Listed are names, nation, employments; among those include John Anthony Foreman.]

Anthony Foreman (no nationality listed), “Trader & idler”

The blanks in the “Nation” column are either Americans or unknown.  Those whose characters are noted in the third column I have represented according to the best information I have been able to receive.

I am very respectfully, Sir, . . .
Silas Dinsmoor

To His Excellency Governor Sevier
_____

“[Human beings] look separate because you see them walking about separately.  But then, we are so made that we can see only the present moment.  If we could see the past, then of course it would look different.  For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well, and when they were part of his grandparents.  If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, would look . . . like one single growing thing–rather like a very complicated tree.  Every individual would appear connected with every other.”

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity