I meant to do this earlier. I don’t know why I didn’t, but I didn’t.
My church, Zion Lutheran in Tomball, is having a series of studies on angels this December. It is interesting. These Servants of God are far more interesting than what gets portrayed on the Hallmark greeting cards. They certainly are NOT cute little Renaissance babies with wings. Whenever they show up, their first words are usually, “Fear Not!”
This series is almost finished, there is only one more next Sunday. I thought you might like to see the videos of the classes. They were saved as “LIVE” programs on Facebook so the homebound could least feel like they are participating.
With permission, I am linking to the first 3 classes here:
Lisa Reads: The Islam Quintet: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, The Book of Saladin, The Stone Woman, A Sultan in Palermo, and Night of the Golden Butterfly by Tariq Ali
I have to admit it: I know virtually nothing about Islam and its history. When Amazon Kindle had a special on Tariq Ali’s The Islam Quintet, I thought that it might be a good way to get a feel for the story of many people on the planet. Sometimes fiction is a good way to learn.
The author, Tariq Ali, is an interesting character on his own. I guess he was born in 1943. He seems to be much more liberal than me or anyone I know well. I think he is an agnostic, growing up in a family that was culturally Muslim.
It seems that, during a conversation 20-ish years ago, he overheard someone say, “Muslims HAVE no culture.” This cluster of 5 books is a response to that little bit of nonsense.
Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree
First in the series, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is my favorite, so far. It is desperately sad, but I can’t explain much without giving the plot away. It is also… Lyrical, somehow. I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels like some of those Islamic tiles.
Set in Spain during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, it tells the story of a family facing massive change. They had conquered Spain several hundred years ago and were now facing the Spanish Inquisition style of Christianity. Will they stay in what they consider their ancestral home? Will they leave?
The saddest bit to me was the fact that well-intentioned or not, leaders of the Christians and the Muslims almost deliberately misunderstood each other.
It was very disorienting in some ways. I expected it to feel strange to see history reviewed from another perspective. I didn’t expect my emotional reaction.
The Book of Saladin
This review is going to be much shorter. I enjoyed the book, but I don’t know what to make it.
The Stone Woman
I got bored. I didn’t care about the characters. I stopped about 1/3 of the way through.
I know it’s not really important, snacks are probably a waste of time and calories and all sorts of other stuff. I should focus on meaningful eating.
Guess what! Sometimes small treats are important, too.
I used to thoroughly enjoy popcorn. It’s a simple treat, light and Buttery. It makes me smile, or at least it used to. It doesn’t anymore.
You know those hulls, Nibs, and other nasties that come with popcorn? They bother everyone. For me, they are also a choking hazard. It has been decades since it was worth risking catching something behind my epiglottis and having it turn into something dangerous. Nope, no popcorn for me, thank you!
Until recently! Another friend with a neuromuscular disorder recommended Chester’s Puffcorn. <https://www.fritolay.com/snacks/product-page/chesters-snacks/chesters-puffcorn-butter-flavored-corn-snacks>
OH MY! (In my best George Takei voice…)
They look like popcorn. They taste like buttery popcorn. They are so light that, if I look at them too hard they dissolve.
I would have to work hard to choke on these!
One of my nephews isn’t incredibly impressed. He calls them “Cheetos without cheese.”
I Can live with that description. At least I can enjoy “popcorn” occasionally.
I’m behind, and August has barely started! It is SPINAL MUSCULAR ATROPHY month. Yes, it is still weird to me to celebrate a disease, but celebrating people who have rich and full lives with SMA is kind of cool.
You can also ask any question about living with a neuromuscular disorder. Feel free to put it in my comments. I will either answer privately or publicly.
Many tools are available to make life with SMA easier now than it was when I was younger. For example, breathing treatments have kept me from several rough situations that I faced. My tracheostomy tube is one of my best friends, pulling mucus out of my lungs when I sound like I have inhaled an aquarium.
It’s better than listening to my doctors predicting my death since I was 2 years old!
Some of the things are a little bit pricey. One of the lateral turning rotation beds would be a wonderful tool for my respiratory system and preventing blood clots. Unfortunately, it costs as much as a car. Still, you have got to look at this:
ProBed FREEDOM BED
Since it costs so much, I decided to treat it like a car and get a used vehicle. Then my church stepped in and is going to help with this:
I find it difficult to write, anymore. I didn’t always. I used to be able to spin a yarn, almost without trying. Since I’m stuck, I’m trying something new. I’m taking an online course called “Write The Seven Step Story.”
Yeah, I know. I keep taking classes. I can think of worse addictions.
For now, I have done a rather weird bit for the first assignment. Enjoy it, or not. Let your own taste dictate.
When you live off the Gulf Coast of The Big State, you know that there are only 3 times in the year. The first is the one that starts in mid-October and goes until mid April. In the course of this clime, the air can take on any traits: hot, cool, dry, wet. It can even freeze during the month of the New Year. The next time is the rest of the year. During that time it is hot. It may be hot and dry or hot and wet, but the heat drains your energy. This time is punctuated by August. During this, heat is increased.
So, if you live off the Gulf Coast of The Big State, you go in. That’s where cool, dry air stirs ‘neath fans. That’s where cold drinks quench thirst. That’s where friends and kin tell yarns and truths. That’s where love and hate twine hand-in-hand. It is where life dwells.
Oh my goodness! I did not expect to receive this package so quickly! I ordered one bar of the SWEETGRASS SUCCESS INTENTION soap and the LILAC, VIOLET & BLUE VERVAIN Wylde Faerie SOAP.
I am very comfortable recommending Ancient Alchemy Soaps. The fragrances are even lovelier than I hoped! When I opened the packages, little bits of potpourri -like dried flowers came out. I’m sure they were the ingredients that made these handmade bath bars extra special. To the touch, they feel good. I haven’t used them yet, I wanted to share my delight with this online store. I might be able to give you more details tomorrow…
I’m not really in the mood to write anything today, probably because I am a little bit tired and my jaw is recovering.
You see, I had speech therapy today. Emily (my speech therapist) is trying to help me strengthen my swallowing muscles. It was an interesting session. It started out with her massaging along my entire jawbone on both sides. It was pressure where my jaw connected to the skull, until that relaxed a little bit. Then, she worked the connective tissue and muscles down the side toward the jawbone.
Then we did some swallowing exercises. First was EFFORTFUL SWALLOW. I had to swallow fast and hard, using ALL of my throat muscles. Believe it or not, that’s tricky to do. I’m supposed to do a minimum of 30 of those per set.
Next came TONGUE HOLD. There’s two ways to do that one. When I’m alone, I need to stick my tongue out between my teeth and swallow while holding my tongue in place. I never got that one completely right, I kept giggling. The other version is to stick my tongue out and have somebody else grab it. (Only really good friends are going to want to try that, even with paper towels and gloves. This exercise needs to happen in sets of 10.
Then came JAW OPENING. It sounds like just what it is: open my mouth is wide as I can and stretch for 3 seconds. This one happens in sets of 10.
Then came LINGUAL RESISTANCE. I’m supposed to press my tongue hard against a tongue depressor, first on the left and then the right. This happens in sets of 10, too.
Finally came LINGUAL RANGE OF MOTION. I had to stick my tongue out as far as I could, and hold it there for 3 seconds. Then I had to move it all the way to the left, all the way to the right, all the way up, and all the way down. I was supposed to hold it for 2 seconds at each position. This is supposed to happen in sets of 10. (I’ll probably be quite popular among little kids and simians…)
So… My face had a workout. My face is tired. And that’s HYSTERICAL to me.
I pondered that for quite a while. There are quite a few things that I enjoy and appreciate. “Falling into” a great story, whether I am reading, writing, or watching it brings me great delight. Spending time with people I cherish is like oxygen to me. Learning and/or teaching is an intense pleasure. Circumstances, people, things are just stuff. And yet, none of those things can MAKE me happy. They may reveal a happiness or contentment (or lack thereof), but they can never place happiness within me.
Only God Himself can make me happy. As He rebuilds me from the inside out, preparing me for eternity, He places a peace beyond all understanding within me. He builds contentment and joy into my person.
The tools He uses are surprisingly simple. It starts and ends with His Word. Whether I like it or not, I need to let the Holy Spirit work through Scripture. Both Law and Gospel have to have their constant place in my life: God’s Holy Law has to tear down my pride and self-sufficient attitude and God’s Holy Gospel is to build Christ Himself within me.
That can’t happen quickly or easily. There’s a reason we are to gather together around preaching and the sacraments regularly. Having the pastor place forgiveness in our ears and on our tongues is a start. Unfortunately, we also have the attention spans of squirrels on crack. We can’t go 3 minutes within the service without getting distracted. That’s why daily, family and individual Bible study and devotions are important. We need to have the weekly church service lessons reinforced at any given moment.
We never know when life will place a “pop quiz” in front of us. God’s Word makes us joyfully free to live forgiven lives while forgiving others around us.
This was a short offering from audible.com, written by John Scalzi and narrated by Zachary Quinto.
I didn’t expect to like it. Some of the recent stories that were “Only from Audible” Specials have been quite lame. I mean REALLY lame. (So much so that I have promised myself not to read anything by one of the authors. I’m also putting audible originals on trial. More like this one, I will keep picking occasional offerings. More like some of the losers and they have lost me permanently.)
I’m having trouble reviewing this one without spoiling the fun of discovery. The book turns on the alternate meaning of the verb, “to dispatch.” This really kept my attention, and I enjoyed listening to it. while the settings and characters are definitely contemporary science fiction, this is primarily a mystery.