GNL number 90

a report on doings at meeting # 90, December 14, 2014
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


Words are but the signs of ideas.
~~~Samuel Johnson

We would have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of ideas only, and not the things themselves.
~~~John Locke


Sue again opened festivities by reporting research on the roots and meanings of our topic, SIGNS; she remarked on how big and pervasive the word is, referring to all kinds of communicating, including guidance sought. She also told the story of driving in California with Jay and coming to the road sign she mentioned at last meeting: “Changing Conditions Ahead”. (Which of course struck us as hilariously allpurpose guidance for life, and prompted this topic choice.) She then read a wonderful poem she’d written, Give Me a Sign, and several quotes. (Please see AFTERWORDS for all these.)

Ann spoke of some less obvious aspects of the word signs, such as emblematic, in signs of the times, and reminded us that the first written languages were pictorial signs—hieroglyphics or pictograms. And she pointed out that the word signature had come to be used as adjective to describe a feature unique to a person or thing. She also brought a photo clipped from the Gazette of herself playing pickleball, which we took as sign of her truthiness about the existence of pickleball.

Cynthia brought signs of her very busy fall; she had much to show and tell, first about a poem she had had accepted in the Women Artists Date Book, and we heard/read this powerful poem, Sandhill Correctional Facility. Then she showed us through her new calendar, featuring her paintings with songs on each theme. And always interested in astrology, she noted each of our birthdays and gave us our signs and readings. And last, she spoke of selling their Camp in Blenheim to two young men, who clearly loved it so much that she and Ron could take it as a sign of the right match. (Ron himself showed up with Mollie dog toward the end as well, and enjoyed lunch with us.)

Anna said she hadn’t thought much about signs, but did give us a little update on the colony of mice that have been pets of the house for years; she said it was now a much smaller colony, of five older females, which made us wonder if this was another sign of the superior feistiness, or calm-cool, or wisdom of older women. Yes, we thought.

Nancy had thought of many different kinds of signs too, as forerunners, or features or symptoms, or code in secret language, or sign language itself, or guidance, clues to the future, and also how our lives are so conditioned by the ubiquitous signs of advertising in our world. But first and most strongly, she remembered actual signs at protests or on bumper stickers, like Cynthia’s “When I grow up, I want to be too big to fail.” She then read a bunch of other favorites, many from the Syracuse Cultural Workers catalog. For these, please see AW.

We decided to send our offering to the Syracuse Cultural Workers, and vowed to do a field trip in the spring to visit them!


Money never seems to be interested in strengthening regulatory agencies, eg, but always in subverting them, in making them miss the danger signs in coal mines, and in derivitives trading and in deep-sea oil wells.
~~~Thomas Frank

and our favorite Vigil sign of Ann’s: “There is no Planet B”


Sunday, January 11, 2015 (1030), at Cynthia and Ron’s in Cobleskill. The topic is Janus: Past/Present—How have we adapted, or how might need to?


from Sue

Church of Skippy Notes and Quotes

Definition & Word origins

sign (n.) 13c., “gesture or motion of the hand,” especially one meant to communicate something, from Old French signe “sign, mark,” from Latin signum “identifying mark, token, indication, symbol; proof; military standard, ensign; a signal, an omen; sign in the heavens, constellation,” ….literally “standard that one follows,” from PIE *sekw-no-, from root *sekw- (1) “to follow” (see sequel).
sign (v.) from Old French signier “to make a sign (to someone); to mark,”…….eaning “to communicate by hand signs” is recorded from 1700.

> Related: Signed; signing.
Miriam Webster Online Dictionary
noun \ˈsīn\: a piece of paper, wood, etc., with words or pictures on it that gives information about something
something (such as an action or event) which shows that something else exists, is true, or will happen

a motion, action, or movement that you use to express a thought, command, or wish


  • “The sign said don’t do it, so naturally I did it. Signs are always saying stuff in a silent way.
  • Writing is a way to say something in a silent way.” ~ Jarod Kintz, Seriously delirious, but not at all serious
  • “Signs offer a way to speak, yet keep the room perfectly silent.” ~ Jarod Kintz, A Zebra is the Piano of the Animal Kingdom
  • “Signs may be but the sympathies of nature with man.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
  • “It is through symbols that man consciously or unconsciously lives, works and has his being.” ~Thomas Carlyle
  • “I remind myself that not everything is a sign, that some things simply are what they appear to be and should not be analyzed, deconstructed, or forced to bear the burden of metaphor, symbol, omen, or portent.” ~ Diane Schoemperlen, Our Lady of the Lost and Found: A Novel of Mary, Faith, and Friendship
  • Signs are taken for wonders. / ‘We would see a sign!’ / The word within a word, unable to speak a word, / Swaddled with darkness.” ~T.S. Eliot

“Give me a sign,” by Susan Fantl Spivack

Sign of trouble, sign of life, warning
sign, sign that seals fate or names it, signs
of spring, signs of collapse, neon
signs—irridescent sparkling—hands lifted
falling signing in your sleep! At the turn
we missed the sign, went an hour
past our destination. In a dream
that signalled what is hidden, I pressed the pen
hard against the paper, signed my name,
sat fuming at the stop sign, remembering how
my father started stopping at all green lights.
We all are waiting for the sign, the true
sign for what is rising upward, outward
from every where, through every
thing, into and out of this
always present center.

  • Pete Seeger’s banjo says “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender” scroll down at this link to see photo
  • looked up sine and cosine word origins–they come from latin word for “curve”–sinus

from Nancy

messages on posters, t-shirts, stickers, etc. from the Syracuse Cultural Workers:

  • I color outside the lines.
  • Question authority.
  • Consume less, share more.
  • Democracy is not a spectator sport.
  • Give Bees a chance.
  • Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.
  • The best things in life aren’t things.
  • Where are we going? And why am I in this handbasket?
  • The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth.
  • God is too big to fit inside one religion.
  • God hates Banks.

… Some signs photographed at protests:



  • And a sweet-faced 90-year-old grandma holding this one: F… your War

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