GNL number 74

a report of doings at meeting #74, Sunday, July 21, 2013
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends


A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.
—–Franz Kafka

No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic.
—–Ann Landers

I knew a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets in those moments.
—–Lord Chesterfield


Before the meeting proper, Nancy reported on some correspondence since last time; First, from Cynthia, who wrote to heartily recommend a BOOK she’d just read, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, by Susan Vreeland, which is an historical novel centering on a painting by Dutch master, Jan Vermeer. Second, an enthusiastic recommendation from western NY friend and COS sympathizer, Rev. Judy Scott, who had been enjoying Megan Marshall’s biography, Margaret Fuller: A New Life (about the first ever Feminist, and a walking friend of Emerson back in old New England). And third, a note from another distant friend who follows our doings and often comments—Donna Veeder. Donna said #73 news prompted some good memories of walking for her, eg, walks with her sweet old dog that helped her recover from hip replacement surgery. (She also noted how nice it was recently to meet Vijaya and Indira, whom she felt she already knew from reading the COSnews!) These last two messages were added as comments to #73 at the Skippy blogsite, which N urged checking into.

Sue then opened the turn-taking on BOOKS, and describing herself as a great lover of reading and the library from childhood on, she brought several current and longtime favorites. First, two by the offbeat artist Maira Kalman, then essays by Anne Fadiman, Naomi Shihab Nye’s recent book of poetry, another book of poems by Christian Wiman, Israeli anthropologist Smadar Lavie’s book on Beduoins, and the mainstay for years of her reading and study in Judaism, Rabbi Shefa Gold’s Torah Journeys For the full titles, and several good quotes, see AFTERWORDS.

Gail brought May Sarton’s Journal on a Solitude, and told very movingly of reading to Clifford in his last days from it, especially passages describing people haying the old way with scythes, so artfully and respectfully, and how this caused her to recall Cliff himself doing the same beautiful scything. She said the book also speaks of aloneness as not necessarily lonely, and Gail spoke of wanting to learn that healthy kind of aloneness. She also praised her good old Victory Garden Cookbook, source not only of great recipes for fixing veggies like kohlrabi, but how to grow, protect, harvest, preserve them.

As referenced before, Ann said she mostly reads articles these days—has magazines all over—but recently started a non-fiction book that has caught her interest. This was A New Earth, by non-aligned spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, who wrote an earlier, best-selling book on The Power of Now, and talks in this one about the crisis the planet’s come to, how we can wake up, and that many appear to be doing that. She also touched a chord of agreement when she noted it’s ok, and good, to go with intuition/curiosity with reading material, not just what we should read.

Anna spoke of her lack of book-reading in recent times, but admitted she still receives the Science Fiction/Fantasy monthly magazine, an anthology she has stacks of from many years of subscribing, and that she dips into these. And enjoys them all over again. We agreed there’s a beauty in that we’d all experienced, and a couple people said they also missed “old friend” books they knew well but had given away. And a couple of us noted it’s not only a pleasure to relive a good book, but we all change and bring something new to the re-reading.

Nancy was enthusiastic about two recent books read: the first, My Stroke of Insight, was neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor’s memoir of the severe stroke she suffered in the left side of her brain, and her many years of recovery of those abilities, but perhaps even more important, the discovery of a right-brain peace, and balance. The second, also non-fiction, was Ellen LeConte’s Life Rules, on Earth having been brought to a critical mass by the global corporate economy, and the way back to cooperating with Life. N also noted a forthcoming book her grandkids Eli and Lucy began while here: New Swear-Words the World Needs (eg, chicken bits, honka bonka, and son of a nutcracker). Some said a video is needed. Stay tuned.

We chose to give our offering this time to two organizations that for years have given irreplaceable service to our local Cobleskill community and beyond: the Community Library and Planned Parenthood-Mohawk/Hudson.


Books are a uniquely portable magic.
—–Stephen King

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
—–Chinese proverb

Anyone who says they only have one life to live must not know how to read a book.
—–Author Unknown


Sunday, August 18, 2013 (1030), at Ann Adams’ house on Pavilion Ave, Sharon Springs. The topic is THINGS OUR PARENTS TOLD US, OR WE WISH THEY HAD, etc.


From Sue:


  • “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,….The man who never reads lives only one.” ~George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
  • Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” ~Maya Angelou
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
  • “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” ~Oscar Wilde
  • “A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it. ~Edward P. Morgan
  • “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~Charles William Eliot
  • “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ~Frederick Douglass


  • Smadar Lavie, The Poetics of Military Occupation, U of CA Press, 1990
  • Maira Kalman, The Principles of Uncertainty, Penguin Press, 2007
  • Maira Kalman, And the Pursuit of Happiness, Penguin Press, 2010
  • Naomi Shihab Nye, Transfer:Poems, BOA Editions, 2011
  • Christian Wiman, Every Rivern Thing: Poems, FS&G, 2010
  • Anne Fadiman, At Large and At Small, Familiar Essays, FS&G, 2007
  • Rabbi Shefa Gold, Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land, Ben Yehuda Pr, 2006

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