The stories bookmarks tell

Summer Stage #14, Saturday 27 August 2016–An old bookmark from the Elkhart Public Library has the title, COURTESY CAN PAY … TWICE! By returning books promptly, it says, the borrower will benefit those waiting in line and also one’s pocketbook, given a 10 cent fine per day for each book overdue, adding, “$12.60 could be charged on a book six weeks overdue.” The bookmark is from 1984.

We love our library. Seldom do we fail to heed the 1984 plea, “PLEASE, bring ’em back on time.” That said, we’ve been pruning our book shelves at home.  On Wednesday we took a couple boxes of books to a resale shop. It’s hard to say goodbye to books, yet ya gotta do it from time to time. We still collect the occasional book but more and more we’re sending them out the door into, I envision, the hands of other appreciative readers. I’m still pleased that some years ago we were able to send 10 boxes to the library a priest was setting up at Indiana State Prison.

So books, those wonderful things you can hold in your hands, or on screen, give me deep  pleasure in dipping into mystery, biography, history, play, some poetry, even philosophy and theology. Of the latter I’m reading ENCOUNTER ON THE NARROW RIDGE: A Life of Martin Buber by Maurice Friedman, (1991). I bought it for a dollar at the library sale shelf. I’m finding priceless insights about Buber. I haven’t read much of Buber but I still remember a Jewish series lecture on Buber two friends and I attended in the early 1960s. The lecture focused on Buber’s seminal book, I and Thou. I’ll say more in a future blog after I finish this 496 page biography.

A bookmark will take you many places even when the story’s done

While we’ve gotten rid of some books this week, bookmarks remain. Our bookmarks take us to places near and far, as near as our local library and as far as places we’ve travelled in North America, Europe and the Middle East. How true the sentiment printed on a bookmark from Callan Books, Stratford, Ontario. It says, “Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?”

Callan Books, sadly, is no more, though they got us started on the W.J. Burley Wycliffe mystery series set in Cornwall. Over the years we found and read every book in the two-dozen or so strong series. We’ve now turned them back in at a used bookstore in Guelph, Ontario–for store credit would you believe. We’ll have a look at those groaning shelves when we’re back in Ontario in November.

Another bookmark takes me to Siesta Key, Florida, where we’ve spent hours and some cash at Used Book Heaven, “Where all good used books go.”

Close to home, the bookmark from Menno-Hof in Shipshewana, Indiana, aptly tells its vision and mission. “VISION: Menno-Hof exists to engage the church and the world in meaningful conversation, which encourages faith in, and faithfulness to, Jesus Christ from an Anabaptist/Mennonite perspective.” Well said.

“MISSION: Menno-Hof creatively builds on the foundation of Jesus Christ by providing a variety of opportunities for dialogue. This is done by sharing stories of God’s work in the Anabaptist family of churches, inviting persons to consider becoming a follower of Jesus, and encouraging Christians to practice faithful discipleship in their own settings.” We recently took a guest to visit Menno-Hof and found it as informative, engaging, and spiritually enriching as ever.

Page break with a photo bookmark

Bookmark stories continued

The UK-based Book Depository bookmark lists “Fish you should not eat.” That’s because “These species should probably not be considered sustainable at this time, or are NOT resilient to fishing pressure (Marine Conservation Societies).” I wish they would also have noted what fish in good conscience you can eat. I continue to enjoy wild salmon, cod, sardines, kippers, mussels and other seafood. At the same time I know I have much more to learn about sustainability.

Friends Peter and Sylvia Jones in Conwy, Wales, created a lovely bookmark with photos to illustrate the song, All things bright and beautiful, by Cecil Frances Alexander, (1818-95). Of Alexander they note: “The writer of these words was born and lived in Ireland. She married William Alexander, the bishop of Derry, who later became the Anglican Archbishop of Ireland. It is traditionally believed that the inspiration for the lines ‘the purple-headed mountain’ and ‘the river running by’ were Conwy Mountain and River, which the Alexanders had seen as they travelled through Conwy to Chester Cathedral for meetings with other Bishops.” We visited Conwy in 2008 and echo the song’s sentiments, “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.”

Friends gave us a Hieroglyphic Alphabet bookmark, a crocheted one, and maybe a needlepoint CATS one–not sure about the latter. We’ve got a Sand Bar & Sand Tiger Sharks one that comes from Cornwall, UK. It says, “These harmless sharks are found in many of the world’s shallow oceans. Of the 400 species of shark, only 10 have been known to attack humans.” The bookmark is from the Julie Hockin Collection.

We’re not sure where or when we got the Native-American bookmark, signed by Eric, the artist. It may have come from our visit to Mesa Verde in Colorado.

In 2007, our church printed a bookmark, New Testament in a Year. From Jan. 1-7, you read Matthew 1-4 and from Nov 26-Dec 2, Revelation 17-22. There was a break from  July 2-Aug 5. I could use that bookmark starting in September.

Time out for another page break

Bookmark stories continued

We’ve used other things for bookmarks, too, such as boarding passes, note paper, but no dollar bills as far as I can determine. One such marker was a magazine clipping on Don’t leave home without this money guide, by Kimberly Lisagor in USA Weekend, sometime in 2004. Traveler’s Checks were still in vogue as was taking a small amount of cash. Back then credit card companies were still charging a foreign transaction fee, now eliminated by some companies. Using an ATM, then, as now for us, was the cheapest way to get cash. She quotes Susan L. Gilbert, globe-trotting author of The Land of I Can: “You can show up in a foreign country and in every town will be a hole in the wall where you can get as much [cash] as you desire, in the currency of the country.”

Can these trends come to pass?

Soon people will be using their smart phone for all kinds of financial transactions. In 10 years, I read this week, these things might become obsolete: bank branches, bank tellers, passwords and pins, paper checks, cash, ATMs and debit cards, and traditional loans. I’m not an early adopter of any of these changes. In fact it took me some time after ATMs came on line to use them. I’ll adapt to future changes no doubt.

As will baby boomers. I Just read that in 10 years the first boomers will turn 80 years of age. I’m part of the Great Generation, just ahead of the boomer curve. A story I may have to interpret for younger ones is the phrase, “Hey buddy, can you spare me a dime?”

In 2001 I bought the then new book, Dictionary of the FUTURE by Faith Popcorn and Adam (Hyperion, New York). It was the first of its kind, a dictionary of “The words, terms and trends that define the way we’ll live, work and talk.” It’s about new words and new language that helps us keep pace with everything that’s mushroomingly new.

For instance, here’s an entry under Aging: “Yogurt Cities–places to live that have active cultures: vital museums, symphonies independent bookstores, downtown neighborhoods with throbbing street life. Retiring baby boomers will insist on moving to Yogurt Cities rather than the ‘retirement communities’ their parents gravitated to. ‘Tennis anyone?’ will be replaced by ‘Tennyson anyone?'”

Another entry: “Free-Range Children–new generation of kids raised without over-programming.” That sounds like what life was like when I was a kid. I wanted to play Bantam hockey but lived five miles from the rink. The school hockey team had to suffice; we even flooded our own open-air ice rink in the school yard (and used magazines as shin pads, if truth, modestly, be told).

Scenes from the week

Tuesday’s walk in Middlebury included Krider Garden next to the Pumpkinvine Trail


Bonus shots from a walk today (Saturday) at Wellfield Gardens for Taste of the Gardens

“The Mission of Wellfield Botanic Gardens is to promote the inseparable relationship between water, plants and animals; be a source for inspiration, creativity and education; foster a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the natural world; bring people together, attract visitors and build community; and provide a spiritual richness to life that is an essential part of being human.”

May we all be bookmarked as happy, hopeful, venturesome, nature-loving, visionary, engaged, and a spiritual people. -John

3 thoughts on “The stories bookmarks tell

  1. What an interesting hobby. I wish I had saved all the bookmarks that have crossed my path Where do you buy an elderberry or a grape pie? Your answer – “The Relif sale?”


  2. You have been n a mission to part with your books for quite some time. You must have had thousands of books. I remember mom telling me she always felt so guilty not taking the time to read to you more. She was always so busy and said that you begged her to read you books and stories. Did you know that? Yes, the peaches are delicious this time of year. I went to the market today and got a few. Kaye

    Sent from my iPad


  3. I also wanted to comment on the elderberries. This is the first year we haven’t picked them along the bike path. I still have three bags in the freezer from last year. It just seemed too hot to pick them this year and the birds were feasting on them. Maybe I will bring a pie to the Christmas dinner this year. Kaye

    Sent from my iPad


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