31 July 2005


So what is church? How do you define church? Or here's one ... where do you go to church? Jesus told Peter ... "Upon this rock I will build my church." I have to work through this every time I read it. First of all, Jesus was talking to a man, but calling him an inanimate object (rock). He renamed Simon, to Peter (or Rock). A very stable name for a very fickle guy (when you think of the cock crowing before dawn scenes). But Simon-now-called-Peter lived up to his name and became very stable, some would say zealous for Jesus. But ... let's move on. What did Jesus mean about church? How could he use a man as a cornerstone for a building? What was he talking about? What do we mean when we ask the question,"Where do you go to church?" ... what should we mean?

Here's a little bit about where I "go to church." I go to the "coffee church" as one of my fellow church-goers called it this morning. We meet in a coffee shop. We're rather informal. In fact, people get shocked looks on their faces when I wear a dress and ask me where I'm going that afternoon. "No where," I tell them, "I just have these dresses, and nowhere else to wear them." Most of the time we all wear jeans. We get antsy about technology tho. We make sure our techology is up to date and doesn't intrude too much on the worship. We're thinking about ways to include iChat or Podcasting for folks who can't be with us that week.

Here's another one of the important things we do. I just realized how important it is today. Every month we take one Sunday and devote it to service to the community. For the past year we've worked with an interfaith community service organization. But we're in the midst of looking for a new organization to work with, so this month we decided to roll up our sleeves and clean the coffee shop we normally meet in. So we paid our normal rent for our normal time. And we cleaned. We rented carpet steamers. We bought cleaning supplies. We fanned out and we cleaned. I pulled a friend aside and we scrubbed a portion of floor that I personally believe has never seen soap before. My friend doesn't think it has either. We scrubbed and talked ... about nothing and about everything. We laughed in horror at the amount of grime on the floor. We learned new things about one another. We also learned that an oldest child (me) and an only child (him) should never be put together to clean anything because they keep going until long after they should stop.

It's important to work together. It really doesn't matter what you're doing. But monks and nuns have something that us out here in the regular world don't ... they have time working together. Washing dishes is good. Painting is good. I found out that scrubbing a floor is good. But so is skewering kebabs for a meal. It doesn't matter what the job is ... putting your shoulder to some kind of grindstone side by side with others is good. It's important to your own life, it's important to their life and more it's important to the life of your community ... your "church." Way, way more important than yet another sermon.

29 July 2005

There Oughta Be a Law

So I'm usually a fairly laissez-faire kinda gal. Live and let live, I always say. I think we have too many laws. I really think that more people ought to be left to live out the consequences of their decisions, than be protected by laws. Really, being left to swing in the wind of their own foolishness ought to be protection enough ... for the most part.

However, I've recently (as in this afternoon) discovered a segment of the population which has not been regulated enough. This would namely be ... (imagine dramatic organ music here) The TOY INDUSTRY. I have decided that the toy industry has far too much latitude when inventing toys. First, there oughta be a law that forbids all toys that a parent can
not immediately recognize without the presence of their child. Second, there oughta be a law that all toys must have pieces that can picked up with adult fingers ... not tweezers. Third, there oughta be a law that firmly regulates the kind of toys ... in other words only one kind of Legos ... not Legos AND MegaBlocks AND Duplos AND Transformers AND Bionicles ... PUHLEEZ....

And if by now you've guessed that I spent a tedious afternoon on a perilous journey to the center of the floor of LightBoy's bedroom ... congratulations ... you get a gold star!!

28 July 2005

Poetry Thursday - Wilde

La Mer
by Oscar Wilde

A white mist drifts across the shrouds,
A wild moon in this wintry sky
Gleams like an angry lion's eye
Out of a mane of tawny clouds.

The muffled steersman at the wheel
Is but a shadow in the gloom; -
And in the throbbing engine-room
Leap the long rods of polished steel.

The shattered storm has left its trace
Upon this huge and heaving dome,
For the thin threads of yellow foam
Float on the waves like ravelled lace.

.... because we're going to the ocean soon ... but not soon enough!! Oh yeah ....

27 July 2005

Denethor - Steward of Gondor

Have you seen the Lord of the Rings movies? Or at least the last one - The Return of the King? I've seen all three. All of them several times. I've read all three books. I read them first as a teen. Then again and again and again as an adult. I love the books ... the books are better than the movies. But the movies are captivating. I was completely prepared to be disappointed with the movies. I've been disappointed with books that have been turned into movies all of my life. So in January of 2002 (I did NOT go to opening night) when I finally saw the first movie, I was HOOKED in a manner that I was completely unprepared for. The only other time I sat through a movie like that was when Gandhi came to the big screen in 1983 ... but I'm dating myself.

So, I got hooked into this series and re-read the books, AGAIN. But, they are, after all good books. Tolkein spent most of his adult life writing them and the histories of the elves, and the dwarves and the hobbits and all of their languages. So ... the books are good. The movies are good.

But here's the thing in the last movie that particularly caught my attention. It was the series of scenes with Denethor the Steward of Gondor. He's been asked by the remains of the Fellowship for assistance in their battle against the evil forces of Mordor. But all he can do is grieve the loss of his son, Boromir. He got so caught up in his own grief and, more importantly, the etiquette of his court that he could do nothing more than rage over the finer points of protocol. His end came rather harshly as he very nearly killed his comatose second son on a funeral pyre, sets himself ablaze, and hurls himself from a cliff. During all of these scenes, however, intense battles with evil are raging outside his very windows. Good people are dying and he is worried about who will serve the wine at dinner.

At the time that I saw this movie, I was involved in a conflict with the leadership of my former church. I saw in a very clear way that that pastor had many characteristics in common with Denethor. I've since come to see that many pastors and church leaders have characteristics in common with Denethor. They are so worried about who will serve the wine or grape juice at communion that they fail to see the people dying physically, emotionally and spiritually at the doorstep of their buildings. It's very sad. Because we've forgotten what our mandate is to the people around us and are more worried about the buildings we serve than the people living around them.

I always wish I could write "they" here because I don't want associate myself with **that** kind of Christian (in fact, I've found a church where we're doing things a little differently). But the sad fact is that we are all one body in Christ. So I have to associate myself with them. My only hope is that in so doing, some of who I am and how I am being will rub off and circulate outwards ...

26 July 2005

My Home Town

So when I wrote the previous post it made me think of my home town. We used to walk to "the store" to get our mail. It was about a half a mile away. We would wave at every car that passed by. My home town makes Mayberry look like a bustling metropolis. Walton's Mountain is more like where I grew up ... altho we wore shoes ... except in the summer. And it was a lot colder in the winter. Alot.

Have you ever ...

... caught a stranger's eye and given them a great, big smile? And then gauged their reaction? It's a fun experiment. Of course, you have to be sort of careful when you go about this. I generally pick women. I find this to be easy on some days. Other days it's harder. But the reaction is almost always the same. First, they smile back ... for about a half a second. Then, they realize ... oh, wait ... they don't know me. But why am I smiling at them? Some people just keep right on smiling back at me. Others get kind of wiggy and their eyes slide away. Some people just think I'm weird. Yeah ... they're probably right. And then, I wonder how Jesus did it.

On Why I Quilt - Part Two

I like to make things for people. I like thinking about the person as I'm making the thing. Of course in this case, it's a quilt and it usually takes a long time. So I get to pray over the person too and do so quite thoroughly.

This is usually a joy. I especially enjoyed the time I made a quilt for my brother and his fiancee when he got married. I prayed over both of them and their marriage. I've made quilts for "my" kids that graduated from high school when I was in youth ministry at our church. I hope those quilts kept them a little warmer when they were away from home that first year.

Don't get me wrong, I don't sit there, intoning the Holy Name of God with each stitch. I do not have a holy glow about me. I am not a monk. I am not holy. But while I work on the quilt, I think about the person I'm making it for, and I pray for them as the thoughts occur to me.

Sometimes this is hard. Right now, for instance, I'm working on a quilt for an aquaintance/friend - the man we bought our house from. My guild makes quilts for soldiers who have lost limbs in the war in Iraq and who are recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital. The man we bought our house from (and who also goes to our former church) was serving in Iraq and lost his lower leg and foot in Iraq on Memorial Day weekend this year. So the ladies in my guild made the blocks, my friend and I put them together and now I'm doing the quilting ... that is making it into a quilt. And I'm struggling with this quilt. I'm struggling with the prayer. I know he will like the quilt ... I know it will be meaningful for him. But it's breaking my heart.

This happened once before. I started out making a lap quilt for my uncle who had been put in a nursing home with Parkinson's Disease. But he died before I could finish it. So I made it bigger and gave it to our local police department so they would have it to give to a child who was being separated from his or her parents in a stressful situation. It was hard making the quilt when it was going to my uncle ... because it made me cry, because I missed my real uncle so much. I did do a lot of grieving tho. But when I was making it to give to a stranger, it was easier somehow and I could pray more and it didn't hurt so badly.

25 July 2005


I like getting those invitations that end with the line: "Regrets Only." I think that's sort of funny. I think you should tell your hosts whether or not you plan to attend the event. I don't think you should only send "Regrets." It also always reminds me of me when I was a teenager.

Back then, it was my goal to live my life in such a way that I would never have any regrets. There were a few adults that I let in on this goal. They nodded and tried not to smirk. I couldn't understand why they tried so hard not to smirk, after all ... I thought, it was a good goal, why smirk? Well, now that I'm an adult, I guess I can understand that desire to smirk. In fact, I find myself trying not to smirk at the memory of my-teenage-self. And ... well ... I have some regrets now and I'm wondering where to send them.

23 July 2005

On Why I Quilt - Part One

I also like to quilt (gasp) ... hence my membership in a “quilt” guild. So ... “SOMETIMES” I actually sit at my sewing machine and sew. Quilting is the process of taking large pieces of fabric, cutting it into lots of little bitty pieces of fabric, so that I can sew them back into much larger pieces of fabric again. Sometimes I think it's a fruitless hobby. But then I look in my quilting closet and see all of my UFO's (that's UnFinished Objects) stacked in their plastic shoeboxes.

Quilting is also my homage to my foremothers. To all the work they did to make my life possible. I once read a book called A Midwife's Tale it's the recounting of the journal of a woman who lived on the coast of southern Maine around the turn of the 18th to the 19th century. Not surprisingly, she was a midwife. What amazed me about this book was how separate the women's lives were from
the men's. So separate that they really had a separate economy going. It's an amazing book and an amazing look into the lives of how people scrabbled out an existence on the edge of so-called civilization at the time. It's quite possible that this lady helped deliver some of my ancestors into the world ... which is kind of funny (wierd) to think about.

So when I quilt ... cut big pieces of fabric into little pieces, in order to sew them back into big pieces again ... somehow it connects me with those ladies who have gone before me in time; with my grandmother for certain because sometimes I use her sewing machine that she gave me when she died. But with my great grandmothers and my aunts and their sisters, and with the slaves who slipped away from plantations and followed the quilt signals on the Underground Railroad, and with the women who left everything they knew and walked across this whole continent to find something new. It connects me across time and miles and helps me to connect those women with my daughter too and someday (I hope) to connect them with her daughter as well. For some reason what those women did is very important to me ... they made meals, and washed clothes, and dreamed dreams so their children could grow up to be just a little better than they were. It's important ... and that's one of the reasons quilting is so important to me.

Too Long

Apparently it's been too long since I've put something new up. A friend wrote last night and told me that all Emily Dickinson poems can be sung to "The Yellow Rose of Texas." I don't even dare test that theory. It might lead me down some very bad paths.

We did something last night that we haven't done in too long. We gathered our "community group" together for dinner. Well ... we were missing one member, but it was a last minute thing, and she had previous plans, and it was quite surprising that we got such a good turnout at the last minute like that anyway. We haven't gathered in about 4 months. There's been a baby born in that time. He is 3 months old now, and very cute. His parents are very much in love with him ... which is good. We all fell in love with him too. That is also good. It's good for children to grow up in a community of lots of other grown-ups and other children too.

Next month we'll go north. It's been too long since we've been north. I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures and the cooler spirits up there. I feel more at home in the lands and peoples where I grew up. That should come as no surprise. We're going to spend 10 days in the land of the rising sun ... literally ... the town where the sun rises first on the continental U.S. It also happens to be the town where my great-grandfather was born. My great,great, great, great grandfather several times removed settled the town originally as a land grant in return for his service in the Revolutionary War. So my roots there run deep. I'm really going for the blueberries and lobsters tho. It's been too long.

21 July 2005

Poetry Thursday

I Had Been Hungry All the Years
by Emily Dickinson

I had been hungry all the years;
My noon had come, to dine;
I, trembling, drew the table near,
And touched the curious wine.

'Twas this on the tables I had seen,
When turning, hungry, lone,
I looked in windows, for the wealth
I could not hope to own.

I did not know the ample bread,
'Twas so unlike the crumb
The birds and I had often shared
In Nature's dining-room.

The plenty hurt me, 'twas so new, --
Myself felt ill and odd,
As berry of a mountain bush
Transplanted to the road.

Nor was I hungry; so I found
That hunger was a way
Of persons outside windows,
The entering takes away.

19 July 2005

Divorce Sucks

Divorce sucks. I guess it sucks most for the couple getting the divorce, and their kids, and probably a lot for their parents. But here are the other people who get hurt by it too. The brothers and sisters of the wife and husband, the spouses of the brothers and sisters, and their children. Because I mean, what do you do? Your husband's sister brings home this guy and says, with her eyes all big and sparkly (this girl who is the closest person to a sister that I'd had to that point in my life) "I love this guy, I'm going to marry him. Accept him in your life like a brother." "Okay," I say to myself, "I've got two brothers ... I know how to have brothers. Now I have another brother." And the years passed. And lo, he became my brother. But all was not well in their marriage. And last summer she came to me and said, "Now you have to say good-bye to him -- we're getting a divorce." Only I don't get it ... now he is my brother, so how am I supposed to say good-bye?

18 July 2005


Spoiler warning - I'm about to reveal a plot thread in the latest Harry Potter novel. So read no further if you don't want to know.

Okay ... You've been forewarned. So ... if you're still reading, you do so at your own risk.

In the latest Harry Potter novel, ("The Half Blood Prince") we begin to learn some of the things that motivate the evil villain, Lord Voldemort. I guess in this we also learn something of what the author, JK Rowling, believes about evil in the world. In any case, during his life Voldemort had learned about these rather interesting magical devices known as "horcruxes". They were never spoken of at the magical school he (and all the other characters in the novel) attended, because these are part of the "Dark Arts" ... the darkest in fact. Horcruxes are devices in which a witch or wizard might contain a piece of her or his soul. You learn this in early in the last third of the book. Of course that immediately raises the question, how does one go about breaking one's soul up into pieces so that it might be put into these containers? And what is the purpose of so doing? Well, the reader is informed, the purpose is to attain immortality. It is only when all the pieces of the soul are killed that a witch or wizard is finally dead. Wow, I think as I read this ... that is heavy ... and how do I process this with 11 yo LightGirl? But the real kicker is yet to come ... the way in which the soul is broken is to commit murder and during the act of murder to speak a particular spell. Worse yet, Lord Voldemort reveals his desire to split his soul into not just 2 pieces, but into 7 pieces because that would make him more immortal. And, I thought to myself as I read this, that does indeed tell me what the author thinks about evil in the world.

I understand it now and I have a sense of how this book is going to end and I'm not sure I can read the rest of it. I have to, but I'm not sure I want to and it's going to raise some ugly things with my daughter that she will have to deal with sooner or later in life. Maybe it will be easier for her dealing with them in fantasy land and moving to reality as she gets older. Maybe this is a good thing. And I just need to move one step at a time. I need to remember my own advice, to just answer the questions she asks and not the questions that I imagine her to have ... to let her control the conversation, so that she controls how much she knows or wants to know or wants to imagine.

So I will go on reading. But I will be reading much more slowly now. Because I am finding that there is a lot here for me to process and chew on. And that has been a surprise.

17 July 2005

The Sisterhood

Well ... as you can see from the post below, our mail did, indeed, arrive yesterday. In my quest to stay ahead of LightGirl I am now on page 423 of the HBP. She is somewhere in the low 100's. But that is okay. She reads during the daylight hours, I get the hours after sundown.

But something else arrived in the mail yesterday. Something much smaller, yet I think really much more important. It almost got lost. But it's impact will be felt in my life for much longer. I hope it will be felt in LightGirl's life for a long time too. It is an invitation. The return address on the envelope was foreboding and confusing ... something Naval. And we don't know anyone in the Navy. LightHusband's cousin is in the Coast Guard, but he is stationed in California and this return address was here in DC. So what on earth could this be? So I opened it. Oh ... right ... I forgot. My cousin's wife is still in the Naval Reserves. And this is an invitation to attend her change of command ceremony on August 6 at Fort Belvoir. She has earned the right to command a mobile construction battalion. I'm going to go to this. I think it's wonderful. She has 4 children LightGirl's age and younger. She and I were pregnant together with our first children and our second children ... but then she went on and had more. And she competes in triathlons. And she commands mobile construction battalions in her spare time!! And she is beautiful.

But to me what is important about this is not that she can do all of this, or that she does do all of this. But that she has refused to let society define her ... she has defined her role in her family for herself and continued on with the things that are important to her. She has figured out a way to do "both/and" and done it rather spectacularly. She has managed to stay home with her children, but not at the expense of herself. So I will go and celebrate this with her ... but quietly off to one side ... because that kind of thing is not done in my family (at least not that side of it).

16 July 2005

On Waiting

Wow ... this is neat. I just got a call from my Brickfriends to commiserate with us that they have not received their HP yet either. They were also looking for encouragement to wait. So I told them the story of the kindly UPS lady who had had so much excrement heaped upon her head this morning. They were equally horrified and yet unsurprised.

We agreed that perhaps we should be learning some spiritual lessons in all of this. Perhaps patience. Perhaps. I don't know tho. I've never learned patience in the midst of waiting. All I've learned when I've had to wait is conspiracy theories. When I have to wait I hear the clock ticking louder and slower and then the voices start. They are never the voice of God encouraging me in long-suffering. No ... these voices are cowardly snivelly voices that tell evil stories of conspiracy against whatever my desire is. I tell that terrible man in my head to shut up and go away because I know he's telling lies, but sometimes I can't quite forget the stories that he tells and so patience comes very slowly.

But ...

Hark! What's that I hear?

Harry Potter has ARRIVED!!!!!...

Will Brown Let Us Down?

LightGirl and I are troubled and anxious. We are waiting. We are waiting for Harry Potter. Actually we are waiting for the latest book to arrive. LightHusband is on the phone with UPS to find out where our package is. We cannot discover this information from the tracking information on their website. They are frustratingly vague. All it will tell me is that my package was scanned on arrival at the warehouse at 4:08 a.m. on Friday, July 15 ... over 24 hours ago. I want to know what has happened to Harry since then!

Okay ... now we know. LightHusband has now finished his conversation with the nice lady at UPS. It is remarkable that she was so nice. Apparently she has been cursed today. It seems that Brown has let many people down today. They have a deal with the USPS ... they have delivered all the boxes to the postal service and now the postal service is delivering one point four MILLION books today.

Amazing ...

I hope ours comes ...

But now I must go and work on a quilt and put my hands to work and help the time to pass ... while we wait, and wonder. But at least we know now who the new teacher of Dark Arts will be this year, thank you New York Times. So one question has been answered ... but for the rest, we're still waiting.

Waiting ...

...... waiting ........

...... waiting ........

15 July 2005

A Mid-Point

So, it's July 15. It's the middle now. The middle of the summer. The mid-point between the U2 concert in Philadelphia on May 14 and the U2 concert in Washington DC on October 20. Okay, I may be stretching that mid-point a bit. But I'm hopeful. I'm getting a bit anxious. Which is strange. After all, I lived my first 40+ years just fine without ever having gone to a U2 concert, now I find myself getting edgy for another one after just 2 months. This is not a good sign. And after last night's adventure, I found myself needing a some more U2 this afternoon. So I did it. I turned on my "Complete U2" in my iTunes while doing some laundry and just listened all afternoon. I didn't listen carefully, I just let myself bathe in my favorite tunage while I talked, and read, and drank coffee. It was good. And it led to a certain amount of reflection which I just need to share. So here it is.

I've discovered that my favorite band member is Adam Clayton. I discovered this at the concert. I continue to believe this as I listen to their music. He is the skeleton of the band. Without his strong bass, they could not stand or walk. And he is so humble in his crumpled pants and soft soled shoes. I think I like Adam best. He stands in the back and supports the songs with his bass. I love it ... you listen sometime and try to imagine the songs without his bass line ... they would be crass and shallow and crumple in a heap on the floor.

If Adam is the skeleton, Larry is the muscle and the drive and the energy. He gives the band it's get up and go. He pushes them around and gets them there on time or slows them down when they need to take it easy. As my drumming Lighthusband says, he's not the best drummer in the world, but he knows how to drum the best for this band. And that's what makes it work.

So, Adam and Larry are the skeleton and the muscle, but the Edge is the heart ... he keeps the oxygen flowing with his guitar. His chords are what keep us wanting more. They pop and flow ... like carbonation.

Bono is the mouth (like I had to tell you this) and the eyes. He sees and speaks and is a prophet to a certain extent. He is certainly the poet ... of course. He's the writer of most of the lyrics. So this makes a certain amount of sense ... at least it does to me.

Then I see here a real picture of what Paul was writing about in his letter to the church in Ephesus; they are a group of people functioning as a whole body. Any one of them on their own could not do as well, nor could any one of them be replaced. This is in contrast with the band I saw last night. Which, while being very good, has replaced one another on many different occassions without a care. It's a whole different paradigm. With Lost Dogs it seems that their songs and the tour is what's important, but I think I'm getting the idea from U2 that what's important to them is this idea that living in some kind of community is important. That it's the music, but it's also about all 4 of them ... AND the music. It's everything all together. That the music isn't quite as important as working out all of the other issues; or working out the other issues inspires the music; or both; or all of the above.

7&7is 14 - 7/14/05 a glorious night

7&7 is 14... july 14, 2005 was a glorious night...

The Dog's performed at the Jammin' Java in Vienna, VA - to an enthusiastic crowd and a fair sized crowd (@130-40). The dogs seemed to be road weary but happy to be inside to perform for their fans (especially after the rain out in Richmond on 7/13).

After ENDURING an openning act (it seems there is always a price to pay - if not monetary - then in some other form of equity)... the Dog's took the stage and as all have said - the vocals were tight, the schtick effortless, the quips sharp but with sly smile, and the melodies and musicianship of a standard rarely experienced. All the guys seemed to really enjoy themselves and were "in the moment." The audience roared with laughter, seemed touched by Joel, exploded with laughter and enthusiastically clapped and whopped and hollered for an encore.

The quality of this musical act can't be overstated. A testament to their musical talent, enduring friendship and years of experience... I brought two long time friends and can't tell you how impressed they were... they have talked about it in very glowing terms.

The guys although tired... came out and greeted those in attendance and spent time signing, smiling, listening and interacting.

Some new quips...

mike - on their lack of success "we have even tried to sell our souls to the devil and he wouldn't take 'em."

derri - to an over enthusiastic fan (some phreak?) who requested a tune - "when you are in a rock band you can make the set list."

terry - "there was a time we were on the top of the heap... now we are here and the heap is over there... now we are considering a name change to get back to 'mid-heap.'"

terry - introducing skinny... "steve "the whore of babylon."

mike - "we are going to hell... and enjoying every minute of the journey."


If You Want To
To Cover You
Certain Love
Come Down Here (amazing!)
Startin' Monday
Free Drinks and a Dream
Sunshine Down
The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life
Moses in the Desert
In the Distance
If You Loved Here
Bad Indigestion
Wild Ride
Why is the Devil Red

Bullet Train (within 5 miles of NRA Headquarters... seemed fitting)
Rescue Me (New Choir Tune)

oh and FYI - I am the friend in ms. light's blog... and granted the Lost Dogs are among my favorite bands - they are not my favorite on any given day - the FlowerKings (swedish prog greats), transatlantic (new prog supergroup), 70's gabriel era Genesis, miles davis (50-60's bebop) or the world's greatest rock band you've never heard the 77's might actually be my favorite group!


There Is A Price For Everything

Last night the LightHusband and I accompanied a friend to see his most favorite band ever. They are called The Lost Dogs. They are very good. We had fun hearing and watching them. They are excellent musicians ... even if they have been around for quite a while (Brickguy, some of the best have been around awhile). The drummer was the most interesting. He set up his drums on their cases. Then he sat on a box, and he sat back there and played and made faces. And he played the glockenspiel. I haven't seen anyone play the glockenspiel since I used to watch my Grampy N. play with the Shriners when I was little. It was pretty fabulous.

I even managed to get under my friend's skin for the first time ever! We've known him for about 15 years and done youth ministry together and he is one of the most laid back people you'll ever meet (my opposite ... I'm very high strung and high maintenance ... but I know this about myself). Anyway, he brought along about 9 million CD's that he wanted these poor band members to sign after the concert. It just so happened that I went to the Safeway beforehand and bought markers (because I like markers). I bought a pack of 8 different colors (because they spoke to me). I, in perfect humility, offered my pack of 8 ... pretty ... sparkly ... different colored markers to my good, dear friend. I offered them in deference to his great love for this band ... so that he could color coordinate his autographs to his CD's. He did not find this amusing in the least. I did. He informed me quite haughtily that he had carefully made his marker choices a day earlier and they were "in the box". And his choices were:
So much for my color coordinated dreams.
I was not crushed.

In any case, there is a price for everything. In this case it was the opening act. Someone encouraged him one too many times. He should not be doing this ... even part-time. He needs to give it up. Most people have a "dynamic range" (for those of you who are not musicians this means the notes in between the lowest note and the highest note you can sing). This guy had two notes ... annoying and screechy. That's not a range ... it's harsh and it's headache material. The Lighthusband took a picture of him. But it seems mean-spirited to post it here ... so here is a pretty picture of flowers from Montana for you to look at while you imagine for yourself a young man who wants very much to do well, but isn't quite hitting the mark and is very full of himself. That will have to do.

Here are some observations about him ...
- Young white men should avoid singing the blues ... they don't have the life experience or the gut to carry it.
- If you left your regular guitar somewhere and are using one that is unfamiliar, you should tune it BEFORE you get on stage and then continue to tune it AND your voice throughout your show.
- Generally speaking, it's unattractive to mention the sweat dripping into your eyes ... just use a hanky, or get a hat with a better sweatband.
- Screeching like a cat with it's tail caught in a rocking chair is not spiritual or musical.
- Naming all of your songs for the key that they are written in is not clever or cute, it's lazy and unoriginal. It also must make your life difficult since they all seem to be in G. Which, of course, prompted me to wonder if he got as bored singing as I did listening?

After the third song, only my friend informs me it was the first, I wrote this: "How much LONGER?" That will give you an idea of how bad it was. But I think I ought to stop now. Finally, he stopped too. Then there was a short intermission and the real show began.

And it was quite a show. Those Lost Dogs know how to put on a show. They know how to sing a song. They know how to carry an audience. They know how to carry a broken string and bad feedback out of a monitor. They know how to play and how to play. Meaning their instruments and how to have fun in front of an audience. It was loads of fun. Even tho (as we found out later) one of the members has been fighting a bad case of pleurisy the whole trip. But then, that explained why occassionally some things felt a little too rehearsed. You're entitled to fall back on things that are well rehearsed when you're deathly ill.

And my friend was so happy. The band played his favorite song in the encore. Along with a song that would be great for our eucharist some time. He was so happy to be there hearing their music. And at the end he was so happy to meet them and get their autographs. USING MY BLACK PEN! Ha! ... at some point in the melee, his perfectly appointed pens had disappeared, so it was lucky for him that I had some. And they were permanent markers (no less). I was gracious and he was contrite and we both laughed good and hard about the whole thing, especially since I am now the owner of only 7 markers!! But ... it's the black one that is missing.

14 July 2005

Poetry Thursday

This is for my Brickfriend ...

A Pict Song
Rudyard Kipling
"The Winged Hats"--Puck of Pook's Hill

Rome never looks where she treads.
Always her heavy hooves fall
On our stomachs, our hearts or our heads;
And Rome never heeds when we bawl.
Her sentries pass on--that is all,
And we gather behind them in hordes,
And plot to reconquer the Wall,
With only our tongues for our swords.

We are the Little Folk--we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you'll see
How we can drag down the State!
We are the worm in the wood!
We are the rot at the root!
We are the taint in the blood!
We are the thorn in the foot!

Mistletoe killing an oak--
Rats gnawing cables in two--
Moths making holes in a cloak--
How they must love what they do!
Yes--and we Little Folk too,
We are busy as they--
Working our works out of view--
Watch, and you'll see it some day!

No indeed! We are not strong,
But we know Peoples that are.
Yes, and we'll guide them along
To smash and destroy you in War!
We shall be slaves just the same?
Yes, we have always been slaves,
But you--you will die of the shame,
And then we shall dance on your graves!

We are the Little Folk, we, etc.

13 July 2005

On Bathrooms

I hate cleaning bathrooms. I especially hate cleaning the bathroom that the Lightchildren inhabit. I don't understand how they can make the toothpaste into stalactites. But I must clean it today, or I will be kin to the nasty creature in a bad Greek myth and I am a nice girl ... not a nasty creature.


Most of my friends who read this are also on the team of people I meet with regularly to plan the worship service at my church (but don't pay too much attention to that website ... it's not really "us" anymore) ... so this post is mostly for them. But it's also for me. Because I'm bored right now. I'm also trying to put off the inevitable. We have company coming. The bathrooms are cluttered and dirty. I must clean them. But I don't want tooooo. I must change sheets and make our home welcoming ... but that's no fun when I can be doing this.

In any case, last night we met, as we do most Tuesday evenings to plan the service for this week. This week we're looking at Sam(son) and his lovely wife. I'm not going to give away the plot line ... or how we five now feel about Sam(son) and his bride. But I think it's funny ... funny-haha AND funny-weird (as my Grampy O. would have said) that on the day we met to discuss Sam(son), my dog Sam got shaved. So here are his before and after pictures. Only maybe it's because my dog Sam is just a dog, he doesn't seem to be any weaker.

Sam before

Sam after

12 July 2005


Hooray! I found a lost friend. Well, I suppose that technically she wasn't lost. I just lost contact with her. She was my roommate for a semester in college. Actually, we did a semester away from college ... we came down to Washington, DC to study foreign policy at American University and roomed together. We didn't have two sous in our combined pockets and had more fun than I think is legal. And the funny thing is that it was legal fun. She took me to my first reggae party (before reggae was popular) and I learned, for an evening, how to be in the minority.

I hadn't thought about her in a long time. Then suddenly the other day I found myself telling one of our stories from that grand time we had together. And I found myself missing my friend, but didn't have any way to go about finding her again.

Then yesterday the Alumni magazine from our college came in the mail. I don't know why I continue to get that silly thing. I am NOT a good Alumna. I don't give any money to my college. I will steadfastly refuse to send my children there because it is a bastion of conservative business. The only reason I went to this college is because I set my sights too high in the first place (the result of doting parents and grandparents and being the big frog in a small pond all my short life) and it was the only acceptance letter I received. ANYWAY ... the magazine came and there was my friend's e-mail address in her class' notes!!! Now for the last -I won't tell you how many- years there has never been any information about my friend in this magazine. And there it was. Just her e-mail address. POOF ... like the e-mail fairy godmother had heard my wish.

I wrote to my friend. She wrote me back and she sounds just as glad to hear from me as I was to find her. We'll see how this goes. Sometimes these old friendships work out again. They are hard tho. You know one another very well ... and yet ... you don't. There are so many things that have happened -some little and some big; happiness and griefs- to each of you that you can't even remember to tell the other and that makes it hard. So, I hope we'll be able to make it past the memories of what we did and move on to do some other things together again. Because I have to say that alot of what makes me fun now, I learned from her back then.

11 July 2005

Something New

In my last post I ended by suggesting that we try something new now. I'm afraid I wasn't very clear about what that might be. I was trying to be clever and leave that up to my readers. It was also after midnight. Those of you who know me best know that nothing good comes out of my brain after about 10 p.m. or if it does, it's hopelessly garbled. So ... let me try this again, and give it some context.

At my church (but don't pay too much attention to that website) we've been looking at some of the Old Testament stories this summer. For some reason, we've been especially drawn to the stories that have assumed the proportions of myth in our society ... the stories that we're asked to swallow uncritically in Sunday School as children, and then never take out again and examine as adults. So ... because we do that at our church, we're taking them out again and examining them. We're calling the series, "Christian Mythology" and we haven't scared too many people away so that's good. This past Sunday (July 10) we looked at the story (Megillah or Scroll) of Ruth. You ought to know this story because in our western culture it is one of the stories that has become foundational.

I retold it as Ruth. I took off my glasses, wound myself up in about 12 yards of fabric, and retold the story of a peasant woman who lived about 5,000 years ago. It was hot in all that fabric, but sort of authentic. It was easier without being able to see, because I really had to stay inside my head. It was hard imagining what her life was like ... becoming a non-entity through no fault of her own; relying on the largesse of others for her survival; then a serendipitous re-marriage and rebirth. Her new husband was rich and generous to a fault. The kind of rich guy we like to hear about, but almost never see.

So here's my new idea ... read the story of Ruth. But read it as an meta narrative. As you read it, think about this question: What would the world look like if the rich western nations (say the G8) behaved like Boaz (rich new husband) rather than like the policmen/bankers that we do now? We've got plenty of stuff. In fact we've got so much stuff that we've had to concoct special rules to make sure our stuff is protected; so that no one can get to our stuff. It's gotten ridiculous (and I do recognize that perhaps I'm oversimplifying); but I just wonder what the world would look like if we used our largesse to make sure that everyone had enough to eat and good water to drink and a warm place to sleep at night ... to take care of the basics in Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. Then maybe we wouldn't need to have a war on terror anymore.

Think about these things too ... think about how we treat the "widows" and "orphans" who are amongst us. Who are they? How do we treat the single moms? The moms who are single by choice and those who are single by chance ... when was the last time you went to the projects and helped out a father-less family? Do those families have a voice and a "say" in our society? Or are they as faceless and voiceless now as they were 5,000 years ago?

Just as an aside, and for your theology lesson for the week. Boaz is a good picture/metaphor for hesed. And now you know.

Pushing Jello

So a friend asked the question, "Can we win the war on terror? and if we do what will the end state look like?" Okay, really that's two questions. He asked those questions on an e-mail list I'm on where we talk about theology and life and things. I've been mulling it/them over in my head ceaselessly for the last couple of days. Several people jumped in with very good answers that I more or less agreed with. I have my own answers to those questions. But then I've been thinking ... the war on terror is like the so-called war on drugs. It's a manufactured war. It is not a war that can be won ... or lost. A war is properly fought over things like boundaries, territory, crowns, princes, honor. One cannot go to war against intangibles like drugs or terror ... it's like pushing jello uphill with a toothpick.

After that I got to thinking that in a democracy such as ours, is it the proper function of our government to be fighting a war against terror. Because after all, a war against ghosts, shades, and specters is likely to be costly and without end (oh ... oops ... did I say that in my out loud voice?). Is it, in fact, the function of a democratic government to push jello uphill with a toothpick? Just because the goverment says it needs to fight this war to "protect" us. I think we've got plenty of evidence from history about how well that kind of "protection" works and we don't need any ... thank you very much!

History actually bears this out ... the best protection against terrorism is ... love. Actually, it's lovingkindness, mercy, and justice. It's a concept known to the Jews as hesed, there's no one word in English that exactly matches it. But some combination of all of those together will do. On the other hand, loving your enemy is risky ... it's also not profitable for Halliburton. I don't know how loving al Qaeda would bear out on a national level ... I'm not sure we could do that. But I do know that turning on the electricity, and the water, and the sewers, and the hospitals, and the general infrastructure and making it reliable and making sure that people had food on their tables and heat in their homes for the most part would go along way towards shutting down al Qaeda in Iraq. What we've done, on the other hand, has made a lot of people hate us.

Pushing jello uphill with a toothpick. The Greeks had another analogy for it ... and a name too, Sysiphus. He was condemned to forever push a boulder uphill only to have it roll back down as soon as he got it to the top. I think we've tried the ways of war for long enough ... let's try something new now. It's just a thought.

10 July 2005

Serving Solutions

It's time for a Martha Stewart moment ... but I love this idea. Okay, I'm less impressed with the brand of beer ... when I do this at **my** house I will use a much cooler six-pack. Because, of course, we have a selection from which to choose. I think most of you know that LightHusband is quite the beer connossieur (I hope I spelled that right). But don't you think that is just the coolest way to serve condiments?? And recycle at the same time?

Montana Re-visited

At the beginning of last month some friends who are very very good to us gave us free tickets to anywhere in the lower 48. So we went to Montana for the weekend. Just the Lighthusband and I ... alone in Montana for a whole long weekend. We went to Bozeman, which is about 100 miles north of Yellowstone National Park. After being married for about 17 and some odd years this was a good chance to get reconnected to each other again and to our own selves, too. We did that in some unexpected ways.

As you know I just started this blog and I was figuring out how to add photos to it. I'm basically very lazy and wanted to do this on my laptop in my favorite chair. Now the only photos that are on my laptop are the photos from our trip to Montana. So I revisited Montana as I learned how to put photos on my blog because of my basic, inherent laziness. So there are some perks to being lazy. Sometimes you get an extra trip out of it. In any case, this cabin is where we stayed. It was delightful and tiny. It was billed as a one bedroom. But really it was a one room with a bed. And a kitchen and all the other delights of home ... and a woodstove, so we were able to have a woodfire every day. It was fabulous.

And ... here, because I'm basically lazy and generous, are some of my thoughts about Montana and some of the fun pictures from our trip.

First of all Montana is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the planet. Really. It truly is. And when they call it big sky country ... they aren't fibbing. It's really, really big out there. You feel small. And I think that's a good thing. Out east people think they're too big for their britches and make decisions that reflect that ... But I'm not going to be political in this post.

We saw ALOT of fun animals at Yellowstone, but this little guy was my favorite. He's just a weasel ... but he looked as tho he wanted to invite us for tea. He was scampering around an old dead tree by the side of the Lamar River. Now the Lamar River runs through the Lamar River Valley ... which is possibly the most beautiful place anywhere ever. I've been there twice now and I still think it's the most beautiful place I've ever been. I'm not going to put a picture of it here, because a picture can't do it justice ... you'll just have to take my word for it.

Here is a picture of our favorite restaurant that we ate at. It's called The Garage. And that's just what it was ... a re-fitted old gas station. We ate in the pump area. Here's what I wrote in my notebook while we waited for our food. "So ... we’re eating dinner at a garage. Really. It’s an old garage that’s been converted to a restaurant. We turned down a brew pub that somehow is to ... vibe-y or something ... for this garage. And that’s exactly what’s it’s called too -- The Garage. We’re sitting in the pump zone. We could be in the bay, but the rain has held off and we’d rather be outside to get a whiff of the livestock truck that might pass by. Our waitress assured us that we made a good choice coming here ... she has an obliging sense of loyalty to her employer ... plus they’ve made some unpopular changes recently at the Montana Ale House. Gotten arrogant and more importantly gotten rid of all the pool tables! In any case, we’re so thrilled with this place we don’t even care if the food is good, but I know it will be."

That was about the best trip we've ever had in our lives. The only downside was that it was so short. But maybe that was good too, because we did our best to make every moment count for something even if it was small. I was even happy when I won a "cute sock award" at the Bozeman airport security checkpoint as we left for my polarfleece socks. I want to go back and live in Montana except that I can't take all my friends with me and I think it's too cold for most of them. But I'm consoling myself with planning a longer visit next year with the Lightchildren ... it will be a fieldtrip!!

08 July 2005

Chuck is back!

Chuck is back! We saw him tonight. It was the first sighting in months ... maybe even a year. This caused great shouts of joy in our car. Chuck is a creature of inderminate age who lives at a certain crossroads here in our town. The buildings are being razed at this crossroads and we worried that Chuck had lost his home. But this evening as we waited patiently for the traffic light's permission to continue our journey to Indian food, there he was, munching on clover, glaring balefully at us in our cars. I can't tell you why that makes me so happy, but it does. I'm very glad that encroaching population has not deterred Chuck from his life's work; that he is wiley enough to continue to survive all the traffic and the wrecking balls; that he is grumpy with me when I call him Chuck. There are some things you look forward to.

Beware of Bright Ideas

I've come to discover that you should beware of bright ideas. It's like this: anytime you have a flash of brilliancy that will require work on your part, just put it away and don't tell anyone about it. Because here's the thing. It's going to require alot more work than you can possibly know at that moment in time. I'm learning this through hard personal experience and through the experience of a dear friend ... we're paralleling each other at the moment and I'll tell you about her experience because not many of you know her.

She's one of my quilting friends. Her husband comes from a large, extended German-ish, Mennonite-ish family that's mostly out west and every several years they have a large family reunion that even includes an auction (the proceeds of which benefit a Mennonite charity). She almost always makes a small, beautiful quilt that raises a lot of money and fuss at this auction. Well, the reunion has been held for time immemorial out at some camp in Colorado somewhere (... out west ... you know ... it's past the Mississippi River, so this eastern chickie can't be expected to remember which state it's in ;-) ). Well, after the last reunion, my friend and her sister-in-law (who also happens to live here in this same northern VA suburb) decided all those western folks needed to come east one time ... right? How hard could it be? Honestly? They'd come to the reunion (which would be at a camp in Pennsylvania), do some sightseeing, and leave ... it couldn't be that much work? And then they (my friend and her nuclear family) wouldn't have to do that much travelling; it wouldn't break up their summer quite so much, etc., etc., etc. Well ... re-read my first couple of sentences again and again. The amount of work they've done on their house alone has been worth 3 trips to Colorado (or where-ever) ... not to mention the stress of trying to figure out who is coming and going when, and whether or not Aunt Maude can have jello pudding, and ... well ... you get the picture. She is really regretting it now and yet, simultaneously, really enjoying showing off her new home state (I forgot to tell you she grew up in California) to her family and enjoying showing off the nation's capitol ... it really is a bang around the 4th.

So the next time you have a bright idea, make sure you examine it really carefully before you tell it to anyone. But even if you do, know that it will grow when you're not looking and in ways that you cannot suppose. There will be a lot more work involved than you can know ... but there will also be a lot more fun than you can imagine. And you will have a lot of good pictures and memories. So in the end it will probably be worth it. Just beware of bright ideas ...

07 July 2005

Ravine of Light

So that's what the name of this new blog means. I chose it to help keep me from getting too bitter and angry. I get that way sometimes ... especially when politics and/or religion get involved. So I'm going to try and stay in the light. I found the name in the back of my huge Costco-esque copy of Lord of the Rings. It's a place name that appears on page 229 ... so pretty early on in the grand scheme of things.

Apparently all of us are being creative today. I've just been interrupted at different intervals by both children to show me drawings. Dd (the oldest) to show me a drawing she has done of herself and Hermione (a character from the famed Harry Potter series). She is anxiously awaiting the next book. I keep telling her to breath. It will come. Ds to show me a comic he is making of his beloved Bionicles. He doesn't have to wait as long between installments on his fantasy creatures.

Lightgirl (dare I call her that?) is 11 and an (all important) half. She is maturing very quickly and frightening her father and I to death. Having a girl was very easy when she was little. Having a girl as a pre-teen and teen is not going to be so easy I fear. She teeters between girlhood and adulthood, peeking into one and lounging in the other. These next few years are going to be bumpy.

Lightboy was much harder when he was little and is easier now. He's 8 and he's all in your face. My father says he pirouettes on the edge of danger. That's true. But that is easier somehow. The physical dangers are easier to identify and protect him from ... or at least to warn him about. It's also easier to let him learn those lessons. A skinned knee is easier to soothe than a skinned heart ... and it heals over time ... the heart, not so much.

I really shouldn't be doing this right now. My other responsibilities on this planet are to my church family. I'm supposed to be enlightening them this Sunday morning ... but right now I'm engaged in the lovely task of procrastination. I prefer to think of it as percolation. I've gathered information and now I'm letting it all work together ... like with Indian food, the spices are all melding. But really, we all know, I'm procrastinating ... I'm putting off the inevitable ... which will make me crabby and hostile on Saturday. My husband will knowingly and wisely cart the children off somewhere to give Mom some "alone" time. We try other cycles ... other ebb and flows of the tide ... really we do ... but they never seem to work. It's the inevitablity of the last minute that produces the best work in my head. But now I need to bring this to an end and at least try to have most of the hard work done tomorrow, so maybe ... just maybe I won't need to be Momma Crab on Saturday this time. Say a prayer or two for me ... if you think of it.