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Friday, May 30, 2008

A Look at the Library

A few photos of where I spend most of my time...and a few links at the bottom of the post. Enjoy, and happy weekend!









A DeepIndexing web conference draws about 200 people, including me! It was great.

The Memphis City Council thinks twice about closing libraries. Hooray!

And, I'm normally suspicious of these lists, but this one's getting a lot of attention. I thought I'd make sure it got yours. :)

"If You Seek Him, He Will Be Found By You"

Thanks for the encouraging comments on the last post!

It's been an interesting month in Norrisland. Where to start? Normally I'm not big on introspection; that's Jason's specialty. But a little self-reflection never hurt anyone...too much. But in case there are other "sensors" like me out there, I'll scatter some of my recent photos to keep you entertained while you read. :)

We are in the process of deeply seeking God's direction in our life. Since we moved to Fort Worth, we've both been growing spiritually. I don't mean to sound all self-righteous by saying that. It's just that, through our circumstances, God has been changing our attitudes, our outlooks and our hearts. A lot. On everything from socio-political issues to church doctrine and traditions to our daily decisions. We've been learning what we believe and why, learning the difference between needs and wants, learning what a marriage is like when it's put under pressure, learning how to encourage friends who are having an even more difficult time than we are.

But, despite all this learning, all this growth, it's still amazingly and frustratingly easy to lose track of God. This really came home for me a couple of weeks ago. The church we've been attending encouraged a weekend of fasting, culminating with the Lord's Supper (communion) on Sunday and a lesson, appropriately enough, about seeking God.

The pastor mentioned how easy it is, on a day-to-day basis, for other things to just become more important than God is. It's not that we're consciously saying that or making that choice. However, we are implying it--by our actions, the way we spend our time and money, how we deal with stress or worry--basically, the amount of thought or focus we put on something (relationship, money, job, whatever) versus the focus we put on God.

So, what does that mean for me? Not totally sure yet. But I know it means living life differently than I have been. I feel like God is challenging me to come with Him to a deeper level of faith--to live a little more completely, less superficially--to not be satisfied with where I am spiritually.

I also know it probably means something different for each of us. Different sacrifices, different challenges and tests. Because, after all, we're given different gifts, too. In Christ, we are all incredibly and beautifully diverse...but united behind one purpose. It wouldn't make sense to have us all looking and acting just alike. We're not the Borg. ;)

The cool paradox of all this, though, is that "sowing righteousness" doesn't always mean doing more. Sometimes it is about just being with God, resting with God, trusting God, waiting on Him. That's kind of where we are right now.

We have some big decisions in the next few days, things we've been praying about and trying not to wrestle with God about--instead trying to bring our will more in line with His. Trying to truly seek His guidance and wisdom.
We'd appreciate your prayers, encouragement and any advice or thoughts you might have as well! Happy weekend!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Swann's Way

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust

I have a bad habit of hesitating (sometimes for years) before reading certain authors or works. I build up this idea that someone like Faulkner, Joyce or Proust would be too over my head, too complex or just too darn long.

And Swann's Way is deep, but it's not unapproachable. It's complex, but not disorienting. And it's definitely long, but it's also worthwhile. (I do recommend reading the introduction before plunging right in!)

This is the first of six volumes of Proust's In Search of Lost Time series, and I can't wait to read the rest. His descriptions--particularly of places--are amazing. Talk about lost time! He took me smoothly from the French countryside into a turn-of-the-century Paris street scene, and I emerged 45 minutes later, unaware of the time that had passed. (Quite a feat considering I was hoofing it on the treadmill, where I'm usually aware of every second that goes by.)

He is also incredibly intuitive when it comes to the inner lives of his characters. I don't believe most people think this much about their own thoughts...unless they stop to think about it! And he records virtually every emotion and nuance that go along with those thoughts. In a way, it becomes a self-exploration for the reader as well.

Then the love story...sigh. It begins with sweet flirtations and excessive happiness, as so many do--both in novels and in real life. But, of course, angst, jealousy and suspicion soon start to camouflage those happier times. And Proust painfully dissects each heartbreaking stage. It's especially painful if you've ever been in a similar situation. But you'll likely be surprised in the end--and intrigued enough to want to read the next five volumes.

Favorite Quotes (and lots of 'em):

The fault I find with our journalism is that it forces us to take an interest in some fresh trivilaity or other every day, whereas only three or four books in a lifetime give us anything that is of real importance.

For while she considered light reading as unwholesome as sweets and cakes, she did not reflect that the strong breath of genius might have upon the mind even of a child an influence at once more dangerous and less invigorating than that of fresh air and sea breezes upon his body.

It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it [our past]: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somwhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object...of which we have no inkling.

She had a tendency to regard as petty cash all that my aunt might give her for herself or her children, and as treasure riotously squandered on an ungrateful wretch the little coins slipped Sunday after Sunday into Eulalie's hand.

My grandmother...held that when one went to the seaside one ought to be on the beach from morning to night sniffing the salt breezes, and that one should not know anyone there because visits and excursions are so much time filched from the sea air.

There is probably no one, however rigid his virtue, who is not liable to find himself, by the complexity of circumstances, living at close quarters with the very vice which he himself has been most outspoken in condemning.

How often have I watched, and longed to imitate when I should be free to live as I chose, a rower who had shipped his oars and lay flat on his back in the bottom of his boat, letting it drift with the current, seeing nothing but the sky gliding slowly by above him, his face aglow with a foretaste of happiness and peace!

Her presence gave the house what none of the other houses that he visited seemed to possess: a sort of nervous system, a sensory network which ramified into each of its rooms and sent a constant stimulus to his heart.

So closely, in their profusion, do they crowd together that lovers would find it as hard to count the kisses exchanged in an hour as to count the flowers in a meadow in May.

She had failed to realise that this fragmentary detail of the truth had sharp edges which could not be made to fit in, except with those contiguous fragments of the truth from which she had arbitrarily detached it, edges which, whatever the fictitious details in which she might embed it, would continue to show, by their overlapping angles and by the gaps she had forgotten to fill in, that its proper place was elsewhere.

She belonged to that half of the human race in whom the curiosity the other half feels about the people it does not know is replaced by an interest in the people it does.

Perhaps it is not-being that is the true state, and all our dream of life is inexistent; but, if so, we feel that these phrases of music, these conceptions which exist in relation to our dream, must be nothing either. We shall perish, but we have as hostages these divine captives who will follow and share our fate. And death in their company is somehow less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps even less probable.

So manifold are our interests in life that it is not uncommon, on the self-same occasion, for the foundations of a happiness which does not yet exist to be laid down simultaneously with the aggravation of a grief from which we are still suffering.

How paradoxical it is to seek in reality for the pictures that are stored in one's memory, which must inevitably lose the charm that comes to them from memory itself and from their not being apprehended by the senses. The reality that I had known no longer existed...The places we have known do not belong only to the world of space on which we map them for our own convenience.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Photos & A Rare Rant

Thanks for the tips on going green! We have officially taken our first "babystep" at the Norris household and started hanging on to our recyclable paper. I'll let you know how all this goes.

Meanwhile, $52 to fill up my gas tank this morning. Dude! I drive an Accord, not a Land Hog! If it weren't 95 degrees here already, I'd consider biking the 10 miles to work. (And, um, if I actually had a bike. haha)

Coincidentally, I received a phone call from our alma mater last week asking for money as well as a letter from our current institute of matriculation just yesterday asking us to donate to them.

Right.

Let me figure out how to buy our books and pay the power bill first. Or (I wanted to tell them), if you're short on funds, let me take a look at your budgets and see if we can find some some areas where we can cut back on spending (ahem, football program and Stetson hats). Enough said!

Anyway, I don't mean to sound ungrateful. God has amazed us with His provision--especially during the last nine months. It's just been a financially frustrating few weeks, and I have the feeling that we're not the only ones who want to sell everything and move to Vermont! Despite all the frustrations, though, we know God will continue to take care of us and guide us through this season of life. More to come on that in a later post.

Meanwhile, my photography semi-obsession continues. Hope you enjoy!



I thought this was such a cool clock.

Meanwhile...three shots of a flower. I like the last one best.








And...a couple of other nature-y shots...



Friday, May 16, 2008

Challenges, Challenges

As a librarian, nothing ruffles my feathers faster than a banned book, so you can imagine how disappointed I was to see this children's book as the most-challenged for the second year in a row. (And, pardon the feather pun.)

Now, I understand not agreeing with or just not liking certain books. In fact, I find this newly-released book off the mark and somewhat offensive. In fairness, I've only read the review--not the actual book. I'm willing to give it a shot. :)

And I'm not going to challenge its right to be in a public library. I'm a big fan of letting readers make their own decisions about what to read...no matter how bad I think that choice might be.

Just to clarify, I do think young readers need guidance, especially from their parents and librarians. If you don't agree with the themes in a book, I recommend suggesting something different to your child and explaining how your beliefs differ. I also think it's not a bad idea to explain how and why you choose your own reading material. I think the important thing is to interact with your child when it comes to reading. Of course, these opinions may all change if I ever actually have kids! haha

But here's the thing. If you "ban" a book, either from your library or your home, that makes just about every kid (and a lot of adults) super eager to read it, defeating your original purpose of banning it. There's a lot more to it than that, but I'll leave it at that...for now.

Your thoughts?

Meanwhile, I'm more than 2/3 of the way through Swann's Way, so expect a review soon--next week, hopefully. But for now, a few links...

Boolify. Very cool site that gives you a better understanding of Boolean operators and how to do more effective searches.

Library Journal reviewer of Asian-American fiction, Shirley Quan, takes a look at Amy Tan's influence in America--good, bad or both?

The Brooklyn Museum is asking for a "diverse" crowd to take a look at Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition. This is your chance to get involved in the "exhibition process," no matter how little or much you know about art. This is such a cool idea!

Happy weekend, everyone!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Not Quite 20 Questions

For various reasons, here are the random things I've been wondering about lately...

How do you define masculinity/femininity? Aside from our physical differences, can we really find a concrete definition for either, or does it all come down to personality differences?
Jason is taking a class that is looking at some of these issues, and our discussions have been...enlightening. :)

Who will the Vice-Presidential picks be?
This might actually determine who gets my vote. I hope that's not shallow.

What's the deal with American Idol? Am I the only person in American who doesn't like this show?
I watched a little bit when Ruben was on and then recently caught it again. I just don't get what the appeal is.

Is the recession actually getting worse, or am I just "feeling" it more?
Higher gas prices, higher food prices, several close friends losing their jobs. It's hitting close to home, dude.

Why do I suddenly like the color green? Is it all the recent environmentally-friendliness?
I want to decorate with it, wear it, bask in the green of Spring. It makes me happy. :) But speaking of the environment...I really want to go green, but...

Are there "babysteps" (a la Flylady) to making your life more environmentally friendly?
I know there are tons of books, web sites, etc..., but I'm overwhelmed by the amount of information and the idea of changing my entire life at once. I need to cultivate one habit at a time.

So...lots of questions.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tagged!

This was so much fun! Thanks, Kristy! I tag Iliana, Jason, Diane and anyone else who wants to join in the fun...but only if you're not too busy to do this. :)

*Maybe I should...learn how to speak Korean instead of Spanish.

*I love the smell of...my husband, coffee brewing and that clean linen Yankee candle.

* People would say that I...read too much, drink too much coffee...and that I'm not always as friendly as I should be. (I'm working on it!)

* I don’t understand why...people see things as black-and-white when the world is mostly made up of shades of gray.

* When I wake up in the morning...I hit the "start" on the coffee pot; then I hit the treadmill.

* I lost my will power to...give up caffeine.

* Life is wonderful with...coffee, books...and I like Kristy's--the one you love and the confidence of eternal life!

* My past made me...stronger.

* I get annoyed when...my husband and I mis-communicate because we're supposed to be really good at communication.

* Parties are not...always fun for introverts like me.

* Dogs are...people. :)

* Cats...are pretty cool, too. But I'm more of a puppy person.

* Tomorrow I am going to...play putt-putt! (It's been awhile.)

* I have a low tolerance for...people who do not behave courteously...and those who do not scoop their puppy's poop.

* I'm totally terrified of...birds.

* I wonder why I thought my life would be...centered on myself instead of on God.

* Never in my life...will I say "never" again!

* High school was something that...afforded me lots of opportunities and that I am thinking about much more these days as I'm planning my 10-year reunion.

* When I'm nervous...I get nauseous and try to take deep yoga breaths.

* Take my advice...call your mother. And enjoy your "season of life," whatever that season may be.

* Making my bed is...something that was instilled in me as a kiddo and something that makes me feel complete before I leave the house for the morning.

* I'm almost always...reading and drinking coffee.

* I'm addicted to...can't you tell by now? Books and coffee!

* I want someone...to ask me about my faith, to read and to take steps to protect animals.


Southern Reading Challenge

I'm soooo excited about Maggie's 2nd Southern Reading Challenge! It's taken me several days to decide on my choices, and I can't wait to read about everyone else's! If you didn't join in the fun last year, I highly recommend it. Great discussion, and the chance to win some delicious Mississippi pecans!

OK, here are my picks:

(Double-dipping from the What's in a Name? Challenge. Hope that's OK!)



Anyway, let's start reading...y'all!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I Remember...

*Disclaimer...I'm not writing this post to make you feel sad or guilty if you don't talk to your mother (even though you should). :) I'm just writing it to help me remember. Hope you enjoy.*

Before she died, my mom told me that I should remember her. At the time I thought "As if you could forget your mother after living with her, fighting with her, laughing with her and crying with her for 22 looooong years. Right, Mom." (I was a sassy thing back then.)

But I'm learning that you can forget. You can forget what you watched on television last night, major world events, and even people. People that you never imagined in 100 years that you could forget are just dismissed from your memory...until you see them on Facebook. Seriously, though, forgetting is not always a bad thing. Your painful memories get slightly less painful. You're able to forgive more easily. You can live your life without quite so much baggage.

But memory is a fickle thing. Often, what you want to remember you can't. For instance, I can recall the name of every Doris Day movie...but not the day of my dentist appointment. I can quote line after line of Gilmore Girls episodes...but only about five Bible verses.

Anyway, I think my mother knew all this about memory, and she wanted me to be sure she was someone I made sure to remember. Again, memory is fickle, but it will allow itself to be courted. Looking at pictures, smelling certain scents, writing--it helps bring it all back. Well, maybe it doesn't all come back, but I'll take what I can get.

So, here's what I remember...

I remember that my mother had beautiful hands--very thin fingers and always long, well-manicured nails. Can you see the ring she's wearing on her middle finger? I can just squeeze it onto my fat pinky. I wish I had inherited her hands.


I remember that she had lots and lots of friends. But when I was growing up, these ladies were probably her two closest friends. They were second mothers to me and very dear to her. And I hate that one of them also only lives in our memories.


I remember that she was beyond excited when my nephew and niece were born. She painted her nails bright red to catch their attention, and she wore soft shirts, so those tiny things would want to cuddle up next to her. Even though she only had a few years of practice, she was a wonderful grandmother.


I remember that she was very different from her mother, and I am very different from mine. But we were all happy about my decision to go to the University of Alabama. Also, despite our differences, I'm thankful for the mother I had and the grandmother I still have. And I wish my thighs still looked like that.


So, Mom, if you're reading, I remember.

And to all you moms out there, Happy Mother's Day on Sunday! You rock!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lately...

Jason is in the midst of finals, so I've been spending more time on campus lately, waiting for him to emerge from the library. I've had a good time experimenting with lights/shadows, and I've just taken a few fun pictures as well. Hope you enjoy!

Fred waiting for supper...and then up close and personal.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Wrapping up the Presentation

I would like to present...Fred, the new library mascot. ;)

Anyway, I know it's been awhile since I mentioned my presentation, but here is the last installment--politics. I included a selection of books authored by current presidential candidates. That list was considerably longer in December.

Here are the remaining three viable candidates:

Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hard Call by John McCain
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

Meanwhile, a few other political sources:

The Almanac of American Politics by Michael Barone
I Am America (and so can you!) by Stephen Colbert
The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan
God’s Politics by Jim Wallis.

God's Politics is the only one of the list that I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Wallis comes down pretty hard on both Democrats and Republicans, which I find myself doing fairly frequently these days. His solutions aren't perfect, but they're a start.

On to the links!

If I've inspired you to pursue an MLS, here are the top graduate schools in that field.

Also...an environmentally-friendly ILL

And...the debate continues over laptops in the classroom

Finally, Google works to improve its image search

Happy weekend!

Read from the beginning...