The Girls of Atomic City – Further Reading and Resources

The Girls of Atomic City – Further Reading and Resources
Nota bene: It stands being said, that as an individual I have not read every single book I put on these lists, but as a librarian, I do my research for readers advisory based on reviews, jacket copy, and what I know to be similar reads. This means that a book on these lists is a suggested read (offered for consideration), not necessarily a personal recommended read (endorsed as a favorable choice).

Fiction -
The Wives of Los Alamos – Tarashea Nesbit (Los Alamos being the New Mexico sister-city of Oak Ridge)
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes – Eleanor Coerr (a child’s look at the consequences of the bomb in Japan)

Non-Fiction- (sources drawn from the immensely helpful Oak Ridge Public Library Website)
City Behind a Fence: Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1942-1946 – Charles W. Johnson (daily life in OR, based on oral history and declassified material)
Now It Can Be Told: The Story of The Manhattan Project – Leslie Groves (first hand account by The General)

Websites –(some links shortened to conserve space and for ease of use)
Oak Ridge Public Library > Oak Ridge History - (National Trust for Historic Preservation) – Building the “Secret Cities” (photo gallery of the prefab “alphabet” houses)

The Photography of Ed Westcott – – the official photographer of the Project in Oak Ridge

Y-12 National Security Complex today -

A Praise for Meriwether - On Living in Peaceful Community

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God  - Matthew 5:9
I'm wearing a t-shirt that bears the name of the merry band of women that have all, at one point or another, lived at 424 Arlington Ave. The historical builders sign in the tiny front yard read Meriwether - for the family the house originally belonged to - and we took it as our own.  At various points over three joyful years the Ladies of Meriwether were 3, 4, even 5 in number as girls moved in, got married, and moved out. Being the digital native and wannabe lifestyle influencer that I am, I crafted the name as a hashtag to keep track of the pictures of our house living life together - but it became so much more than a tag - it became a true definition of community - a community of ordinary peacemakers, I'd like to think.

I picked this shirt specifically this morning because one of our own - Jenni, the last generation of Meriwether ladies - gets married today, and I'm nothing if not a sentimental fool. The t-shirts were my way of coping with the fact that after four years at Meriwether we couldn't keep the lease. It seems silly to be so broken up over the parting of roommates - but as I've processed through the change a month an a half later I've come to see what it was that made us different. More than roommates just coexisting, what we had a was a growing, challenging, encouraging group of women living in Christian community. We weren't perfect by any length - myself least of all - but I'm not the same person in 2018 that I was in 2014, and if the number of times I had to swallow my pride to apologize to a sister/roommate had anything at all to do with it, then I am thankful.

I have been reading Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren with a friend over the course of this summer, and this week was reading the chapter on passing the peace - the liturgical practice following the command to make peace with one's brother before approaching the altar - and Warren projects that practice into the ordinary moments of our everydays writing (pg.79) "The passing of the peace finds it's way mostly in small unseen moments as we live together, seeking to love those people who are the constants" (italics added) continuing later on down the page with "ordinary love, anonymous and unnoticed as it is is the substance of peace on earth, the currency of God's grace in our daily life." She writes of her neighbor who is in the work of bringing "radical" peace as he works with the homeless in their city, and how sometimes she is tempted to think that the "ordinary" peace she works out in her home relationships with husband and child is somehow less important than her neighbor's, when in reality the "radical" peace would not be possible with out a unified community of peacemakers working out their faith in the Kingdom in ordinary acts of extending peace to one an other.

I think of the vocations that God has placed each of the Ladies in - artists (4 of them!), teacher, librarian, physical therapist - and how each of those brings its own missional challenge - to represent beauty faithfully, to care for minds and persons and broken children, to care for the brokenness of body - and how each of us has brought home unique challenges to be told in story around the kitchen. I think about how each of has had different personal struggles that have been worked out and cared for and lifted up inside the four walls of Meriwether, and how these ordinary acts of peace have strengthened and bolstered up each of us to go back out each day to continue the work of bringing about the Kingdom, and I understand now what it was that made us so special and why the breaking up of Meriwether was so hard. But I give thanks and praise that we had that time together, and pray the each of the other Ladies feel the same way as we now are spread out to create new pocket communities of peace  - whether living with other single ladies, or families from church, or creating new families in godly marriage.

To all my Ladies of Meriwether, I pray the words of Paul to the Philippians over you: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in your will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

I love you all.


Gen 1 - The OG Ladies
Megan Peden
Megan Kersey Weise
Hannah Russell
Sarah Peden
Gen 2
Meghan Aranda
Sierra Owens-Hughes Estes
Gen 3
Jenni Tingley Tan

Honorary Lady (Due to the inordinate amount of time she spent there, while actually being married and living elsewhere)
Charlotte Spencer

So you liked Little Women – What do you read next?

Key: (n) = Non-fiction, (f) = Fiction (jf) = juvenile fiction
Nota bene: It stands being said, that as an individual I have not read every single book I put on these lists, but as a librarian, I do my research for readers advisory based on reviews, jacket copy, and what I know to be similar reads. This means that a book on these lists is a suggested read (offered for consideration), not necessarily a personal recommended read (endorsed as a favorable choice).

(n) Louisa May Alcott: the Woman Behind Little Women – Harriet Reisen
(n) My Heart is Boundless: the Writings of Abigail May Alcott – Eve LaPlante (Think Wisdom from Marmee!)
(f) March – Geraldine Brooks (Pulitzer Prize winner – MANY mixed reviews – may spoil your opinion of Mr. March)
(f) Pilgrims Progress – John Bunyan
(f) The Other Alcott – Elise Hooper (The life and times of Louisa’s equally talented younger sister May – Inspiration for Amy)

Literature group as a whole:
          The Transcendentalists, of whom Bronson Alcott was one:
·       Henry David Thoreau (a good friend of the Alcott family – helped them move Orchard house to it’s current location- also, the accent is on the “thor”)
·       Ralph Waldo Emerson (lived up the street from the Alcotts, and was a family friend)
·       Walt Whitman
·       And others… Bronson himself tried to contribute to the body of transcendentalist literature, but was really a bad writer, and one anecdote tells of a publisher only agreeing to accept his work if Louisa threw a story in as well.

(jf) The Mother Daughter Book Club – Heather Frederick Vogel (first in a series where mothers and daughters read classic literature together!)
Louisa’s whole body of work is too long to list here, but finishing out the March Family story in Little Men and Jo’s Boys is a must!

The LM's | International Women's Day | Three women I want to be when I grow up

International Women's Day was yesterday, and while my norm on this blog is to rave over fiction heroes, I thought I'd bring three of my real-life heroes to the table. Literally - these women are the top three of the 10 famous people I'd invite to dinner. 
Meet Louisa May Alcott, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Madeleine L'Engle. They've lurked in the background of this blog for many a year, as I've written about Little Women, or Anne, or Madeleine's philosophy of art. They are the triumvirate (or triumfeminate - since this *is* a women's day post) of my girlhood literary experience, and my adult creative-female inspirations. They are the cornerstones of my literary pilgrimages project. They are everything I want to be when I grow up. Let me tell you why. 

Lousia May Alcott 

Fun Fact about me: The first report I remember writing for Abeka Language arts (all my homies put your hands up!) was on Louisa May Alcott

I had the supreme joy to visit Orchard House this past summer on my first literary pilgrimage, and I pretty much wept through out the entire tour - when I wasn't grinning ear from ear that is. It was serendipitous that her stomping grounds were the first destination for my series of pilgrimages because her independent spirit has influenced the philosophy of how my trips will roll out going forward. At one point in the tour, we were stopped in the dining room, and the guide was pointing out paintings by May (the Amy sister of the Alcotts) that were done on a tour that May, Louisa and another bachelor-girl friend had made of Europe - completely unchaperoned, and free to their whims of what they wanted to see and where they wanted to go. I got giddy as I stood there where Louisa had walked, a girl of 26, alone, with nothing but a creative vision, and a backpack, finding a mirror of myself in her. I told the guide my thoughts after the tour, and she remarked "we have our own Louisa here!" - which of course, made my day. 

Aside from this of course, there are many other things I admire in Lousia May - her work ethic and how she strove to provide for her family after her father's many misadventures (I love all the Alcott women, but Bronson was not a good provider), - her writing endeavors as a women in the 19th century - her work towards racial equality, women's sufferage, and helping the poor of Concord and Boston.  She - and her literary creation, my dear Jo - are the low-key feminists I want to be. 

Lucy Maud Montgomery 

Anne has been my fictional hero and constant friend since the age of ten - even longer than I've known Jo March - but I'm going chronologically by era of author here.
I don't know the person of Maud as well as I do Lousia May at this point (though with a possible PEI trip this summer, I expect that to change) but this I do know - Anne's love of the beauties of the Island is Maud's love.  Emily's perseverance in climbing the "Alpine Path" of being a writer is Maud's perseverance. Her life wasn't the happiest, but she fulfilled a dream as spoken through Anne, of adding some beauty to the world... that never would have existed had she never been born (paraphrase from Anne's House of Dreams) With some 20 books published, she reached the world with beauty and joy.

Madeleine L'Engle

This librarian, anglican, and author I feel I've known the most intimately of the three here, as her published journals and non-fiction work are what I've read most frequently of her whole bibliography, but had I only read her fiction,  I feel I would still know the person of Madeleine L'Engle well. Her fiction is honest. I've never found her to say something in fiction that she wouldn't whole heartedly believe in her journals. She understands Truth.
In reading her Crosswicks accounts in college, I found a strong-minded, creative woman who *knew* who she was, and *knew* her duty to her craft. She never gave up, she was faithful to write even when dry, when rejection slip after rejection slip turned up (for Wrinkle). She was faithful to a gift that she felt was hers by God's hand, and *still* managed to be faithful to what was also her God-given desire and drive for family. She never gave up one for the other (as you can often find with creatives) but learned balance. I want to be that.  She published 20+ books. They are all amazing.

Here's to these three literary matriarchs. May I grow up to be like them someday.

the quotes that have made me | A Top Ten Tuesday Post

Today in Top Ten Tuesday Land we take a look at ten (yes! actually 10 today!) quotes that have stuck with me over the years and have each made me a little bit more the (lovely, charming, insert-adjective here) person who I am.

On the Importance of Reading Fairy Tales
"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton (paraphrased by Neil Gaiman for Coraline epigraph, which is where I first encountered it)

On Living Beautifully
"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people KNOW more... though I know that IS the noblest ambition... but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me... to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born." - L. M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams 

On Dignity and Character
"Whatever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing.  If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside.  It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it." - Frances Hodgeson Burnett, A Little Princess 

On Being a Librarian
"She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people." -Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

On Home Life
"The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them." - Lousia May Alcott, Little Women 

On Reading (and Writing)
"We don't want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don't want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination." - Madeleine L'Engle, Walking On Water 

On Feeling
"Crying is part of the adventure." - Gail Carson Levine, The Two Princesses of Bamarre

On Joy
"I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed." - Mary Oliver

On Reading (and Memory)
"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said..."As if something were left between the pages every time you read it.  Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar." - Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

Annddd.... for kicks and giggles.

On Disturbing  Not the Beast Before She Has Had Coffee
“I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now.” ― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women