30 August 2005

Home Again, Home Again, Lickety Split

So that's what my Grammy Charlotte used to say. But it was hardly "lickety split" ... 17 hours in a car ... spread over 2 days. Oy. We did get in a good visit with my aunt in Boston. Now don't you say that word "aunt" as if it were a small black insect. Say it properly ... using both vowels, please. We had a good visit and she gave me some treasures of my grandmother's and my great uncle's. And we traded some family stories. Best of all, she had a good dinner waiting for us when we came in off the road.

The LightChildren held up well for the car ride. Only one time in two days was there anything like a complaint. In a small voice, on day two, in the mid-afternoon from LightBoy's direction I heard, "My legs need to move. They really, really do." But that was all.

Later today (when they become available) I'll post some of the pictures that LightHusband took as we poked through New York City. It took over two HOURS to get from the Connecticut border to the George Washington Bridge. This normally takes about a half hour. That was not pretty or fun, but we were fortunate that it was the only real traffic we faced.

And so, we're home again, home again, lickety split. With dirty laundry, and fabulous memories. And glad to be here too.

27 August 2005

Last Things

So today is our last day in our little cottage. We didn't do much. Just mucked around. LightHusband took some pictures of mouldy gravestones of my long dead ancestors. I was bummed that one set was completely engulfed in pickerbushes. And sadly it was the g-g-g-grandmother who LightGirl is named for. So she couldn't even see her namesake. Oh well. That's what happens when everyone moves away ... no one takes care of your gravemarkers and pickerbushes grow up around them. It's a sad thing.

Then we went to what became our favorite place on this vacation, West Quoddy Head Lighthouse National Park. There was a little rocky beach there that the kids loved to play on and I loved to read at and LightHusband loved to take pictures at and while we were there this phenomenal fog rolled in ... creepy, pea soup fog that was so thick you could taste it. It was fabulous.

We had lunch at our favorite diner. The owner was there again. He has taken a real liking to us and LightBoy in particular. He discovered that LB likes music and so all 3 "men" went to the upstairs
... which is largely unused (this restaurant is in an old house/funeral parlor) to see the owner's musical instruments. Well ... when they came down LightBoy was full of all the ghost stories that are associated with the restaurant!! It was great fun. He and LightGirl left the restaurant with eyes as big as saucers.

Here's a picture of the rocky beach at West Quoddy Head ... the rocks say "chanky-chank" when you walk on them.

26 August 2005

Picture of the Day - Friday

So ... it was a tie ... so ... shoot me ... you have to look at two pictures. Wahhh.

We went on a whale watching boat ride and actually saw some whales, and dolphins and eagles and lots of other things too. LightHusband took 600 pictures in 3 hours on a boat. And didn't delete nearly as many of them as he thought he would ... but he still deleted a lot. It was one of the most sparklingly clear days ever. You only get about one a year ... today was it for this year. So we went on a boat ride. Then we had our requisite Maine lobster dinner on a pier. It was a beautiful day ... we didn't let it get away.


So today we started out at a mustard mill. It's the mill where they used to produce all the mustard that was made to pack all the sardines in. But now there aren't any more sardines. So Raye's makes fancy mustard. Good fancy mustard. We bought a case of all different kinds. Yes, most of you will get to taste it. If you're very nice to me. Even if you're mean ... you all know I like having you all over for dinner alot. And ... LightHusband likes mustard.

Here's a picture of one of the old stones that they used to use to grind the mustard seeds. It's out in front of the factory. They still use stones just like this. It weighs half a ton. One thousand pounds. The seeds get ground between two of these. Actually there are 4 sets of them. And the seeds have to go between each of the sets ... it takes 8 stones. EIGHT. Each weighing one THOUSAND pounds to grind mustard seeds to make mustard.

That gives new perspective to this bible verse from Matthew 17 - "Jesus replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." I always thought of a mustard seed as just being tiny ... now I see it's also really sturdy and tough. After all ... it takes 4 TONS of stone to grind it into dust and that only after being soaked in a water and vinegar solution.

Funny ... the things you learn on vacation.

Pat Robertson

So here goes ... I wasn't going to say anything about this current flap. But now I think I will. I clicked through my own link. I don't know if any of you use "My High School English Teacher." But if you've ever clicked through that, you've seen that it's an editorial cartoon site. For Jeff Danziger. Now he's nationally known. But a **number** of years ago he was a high school english teacher and I took Expository Writing from him. As did every college bound senior in my high school. Before he taught high school he was in the Viet Nam War as a translator. He shouldn't have been. It scarred him. Badly. I don't think he had any choice in the matter. Warning: He's fairly leftward leaning ... so if that's going to bother you, don't go there. He's also fairly caustic, so if that might bother you, don't go there. He's also an atheist, or perhaps to be fair an agnostic. I really don't know his religious beliefs ... I just know he doesn't have a lot of time for religion.

Here is the cartoon he posted last night:
You know ... there are so many ways to take that. I know better than to take it personally. And I'm actually relieved to see someone finally say it out loud. But in general, the things that Pat Robertson advocates have as much to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as pigs do with flying. Now I have no idea as to where Pat stands in terms of his own faith, belief, "salvation", etc. What I mean to say, is that the things he speaks of publicly have nothing to do with the things of Jesus, or God or the Holy Spirit as we know about them from God's Book, or the rest of God's people who have spoken to us down through the ages. I really do wish he'd keep quiet. Or as Jim Wallis (from Sojourners) has called for him to do, that he'd retire. You can read that article here, but you have to register first and they're very good ... they won't bother you, or sell your name, or anything.

What gives me hope and comfort during all of this is the firm knowledge that there have always been Pat Robertsons around trying their best to give Jesus a black eye (whether they knew it or not) and a bad name. They have not succeeded. Jesus is still the lynchpin of history. We still mark His birth as the before and after. Whether we acknowledge it or not. It is His birth that is the crucible, the Common Era, the Anno Domini. We don't even know the names of all the other Pat Robertsons and future generations won't know his.

The other thing I wonder about is how most of the Muslim community must feel. After all, they have faced this for 4 years now. Being made to look like crazy people by a few crazy men saying crazy things that have nothing whatsoever to do with the things that they really believe.

I think that in the end, God is able to take care of Himself. His Light will continue to shine through the works of the people who genuinely love him and are doing His work, being His body here on earth. Those are the people who are not concerned with garnering the spotlight ... they are the people who take Jesus words seriously about bringing water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, and caring for the least people in their communities. Look around you for those people and there you will find Jesus working still whether or not they claim Him.

25 August 2005


So today we ventured 10 minutes across the bay, or 50 minutes by car, to Eastport. We can see Eastport from our house ... but it takes almost an hour to drive there. How silly is that?

When we were here 11 years ago, I would have guessed that Eastport would have been a complete ghost town by now. It was almost completely dead. It's waterfront was listless, faded ... nothing happening. You couldn't even get a cup of coffee in Eastport. Okay ... that may be the tiniest exaggeration. But it was on the way down.

That has changed. Not that things are booming now ... but there's even a Mexican restaurant in town ... La Sardina Loca (the Crazy Sardine - which has a fine logic in an old sardine factory!!) By northern New England standards it was fine Mexican fare ... for those of us who have had actual Mexican food, it was ... well ... shall we say ... um ... slightly commercial. But ... they're trying and we have to give them an A for effort.

There were several gift stores and LightGirl and I went shopping. LightBoy and LightHusband had fun "helping" the fisherfolk out on the wharves and taking pictures. Then we found another restaurant and I discovered that I'm slowly morphing into ... MY FATHER! (imagine horrible organ music here) Here's a funny thing up here in Maine that's on the menu almost everywhere ... Bread pudding. Okay ... so here's the list of things that you can't find down south that I have just been so happy to see all around me all week.

- Bread pudding - I love homemade bread pudding (this is evidence that I am morphing into my father ... if you knew him you'd be frightened).
- Beets on the menu everywhere - I love beets.
- Iced tea UNSWEET and I don't have to say it!!!! Because who in their right mind would put sugar in their iced tea for HEAVENSSAKE.
- Brown bread in a can (with and with out raisins) - this is to be steamed in the can and eaten for dinner on Town Meeting Day. Don't ask.
- In EVERY restaurant the sign when you walk in "Please seat yourself"
- There is not a grit, or an okra, or a hushpuppy to be found ... anywhere.
- Mosquitos are the state bird ... or think they ought to be. They are HUGE ... okay this does not make me happy ... but saying it's the state bird annoys LightGirl and that makes me happy in an annoying mom way.

Okay ... back to regentrification ... so we walked around beautiful downtown Eastport. And I tried to tell LightGirl about how dreadfully boring it is to grow up in a small town. But all she can see right now are the benefits. Like she could ride her bike anywhere. Like she doesn't get that that would be fun for about half an hour. Of course, my hometown is LOTS smaller than Eastport or even Lubec Maine ... so ... those might be different. She is very enamoured of small town life at the moment. UGH. Just the thought makes me claustrophobic. Of course, I grew up in the tiniest ... most pretentious little snotty town there ever was. Maybe it could be different somewhere else.

When we were done walking, shopping, helping the fisherfolk and taking pictures, we drove back to Lubec just in time for dinner and a piano concert at the gazebo. Well ... after the late lunch and dessert, LightBoy was the only one hungry enough for dinner. This picture here on the left is of the Masonic Lodge and the line for dinner. But we went down and listened to the music anyway and LightHusband took some more pictures. I worked on this little quilt I'm making and talked about the music with LightGirl ... she was convinced it was all just boring. I could see (it was alot of show tunes - lots of Gershwin - and without the words) how it would be kind of repetitive and boring. I had the words in my head ... but those of you who know me well, know that I shouldn't sing out loud. It's not pleasant. Or polite. I tried just saying the words to Porgy & Bess,
but even that was embarassing to LightGirl, so I kept the words inside my head (as we like to say in our family).

So it was a good day and you have to check out my new picture in my profile ... it's from today. On the wharf at Eastport ... I think it goes with the whole "Light" theme I have going on my blog ... don't you?

Poetry Thursday - Levertov

Making Peace
by Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,

''The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war."

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can't be imagined before it is made,
can't be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light--facets
of the forming crystal.

24 August 2005


So our first day in our little cottage was very quiet. That was good ... we'd spent the last three days being very busy, travelling and doing. So we needed to be quiet. We watched the tide come in and go out in our little cove. If that sounds rather mundane you have to consider where we are and that the tide comes in and goes out to the tune of 20+ feet here. You can see from the low tide and high tide pictures that it's sort of dramatic. That is the same shipwreck in our cove at low tide and again at high tide.

I also caught up with my friends and their blogs. My AwakeFriend wrote a real doozy on Sunday. You really need to read the whole thing. But what really got me thinking was his description of seminary and the training he underwent for giving sermons. It made me think of the days when I was in graduate school and the training I underwent to become a teacher. There were many similarities. They are both very artificial training grounds. Which is sad and silly. Why do we (that is, the corporate we) think that we can reduce pastoring or teaching (or any profession where we are leading/mentoring other people) to a list of things that can be measured and then taught. These are not sciences after all. And then my thoughts kept wandering down that little path and came to this:

The other day we we had lunch at one of the most local of local diners. Actually we've had 5 meals in the last 4 days there. They've adopted us there. We met an elderly lady who is clearly well loved by all. Her name is Mimi (pronounced mimee, as in short i, long e). We were told that just about everyone in Lubec over the age of 30 had had her for a teacher at one time or another and most of those under 30 had probably had her for a substitute ... she told us that last year was probably her last year ... she didn't think she'd sign up again. She's definitely pushing 80 or so. Among other things, she told us the story of when she went to Normal School (as teacher training schools were called back then) and as she was filling out the paper work she was next to a girl who confided in Mimi that she (the other girl) didn't like children. Mimi looked at us in wonder as she was telling this story. Still amazed after 60 years. How could someone who didn't like children consider going into the teaching profession?

And that's just it. I hope my AwakeFriend will forgive me ... but I know that the same thing happened at his seminary. Clearly he was called into ministry. At our church we benefit from his calling on the weeks he speaks, and on the weeks he hangs out ... we benefit from his gifts of grace and mercy that he models for us just by being. But here's the thing ... I wonder how many of his fellow students at seminary were just there because they mistook a fifty percent off sale for a calling (don't snicker ... it happens), or because their father was a pastor ... or for a hundred other reasons, none of which have anything to do with the things of God. And it's not just seminary, either. How many jobs in our world are filled by people with no heart for them? Like the girl that Mimi knew sixty years ago ... there aren't any spaces on our forms that ask us whether or not we like children when we're training to be teachers. We forget to ask the most important question sometimes. I have to wonder about that. And it makes me uncomfortable.

23 August 2005

Picture of the Day - Tuesday

So today we went to Cobscook Bay State Park and played around in the water. Well, the kids did ... I read and LightHusband took pictures (like this one). I think the seaweed looks like dreadlocks on the rocks. LightGirl says it feels like walking on spaghetti ... she's right ... it does.

List Tuesday

So ordinarily I'm a both/and kinda gal. I like combining things. Putting things and people together. I like including people. Pulling it all together ... drawing the circle bigger as it were. But I have discovered as I've travelled this life that there are a few things that do not (I repeat ... NOT) belong together. So ... in honor of my Brickfriend ... I present my List for List Tuesday ...

These Things Do NOT Go Together:

1. Jazz and Celtic music.

2. Blueberries and Salmon.

3. Country and any other music ... okay ... country shouldn't be considered a music form but that's a post unto itself. It's the only form of music I won't listen to ... EVER. Which tells you something.

4. Plaid and polka dots

5. Raisin bran and orange juice (and yes, I've seen someone actually eat this).

6. Blueberries and Lobster (hmm ... I'm sensing a theme here).

7. Catsup (ketchup) and any Indian food.

8. Finally, because it is only exceptions that make a rule ... here are two things that don't belong together but somehow are and they work: A health/organic/vegetarian food store combined with a hardware store ... yes, Virginia there is one up here in Machias, Maine. And somehow it works. Right next to the nine penny nails is a whole selection of Annie's macaroni and cheese, a great selection of Indian food mixes, teas, a wall of spices and herbs and best of all, "Freedom Beans."

22 August 2005

"I Hate Making Beds"

"I don't even make my own bed. But I have to make 'em here. That's okay. It's a good job." That was our introduction to the maid at the motel we stayed in for our first 2 days here in Lubec, Maine. We're up here on the Sunrise Coast ... where the sun rises first in the United States each morning. That's about the only thing of note that happens here anymore.

This was once a thriving fishing town. It thrived for about two hundred years. Then industrialization gave us the ability to overfish the areas that had provided a nice living for these people for generations. These are my people. I have more people than I can count in the graveyards up and down this coastline.

I always say that my ancestors were whaling captains; LightHusband jokes that they were kelp farmers. The reality is probably somewhere in between. They were probably fishermen. Solid middle class fishermen.
My people came here with land grants as compensation for their service in the Revolutionary War. They originally came to this country on the Mayflower or shortly after that and settled Massachusetts, but then that got too crowded for them. So they came up to outer limits of the colony and then the state of Maine and settled here ... to fish. And to farm. And to lead.

The last of my ancestors to grow up here in Lubec was my great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell. He was a Baptist minister. That was all I knew about him for the longest time. Then I spent some time with his oldest son (my great uncle Paul) shortly before he died at age 98 and discovered that my great grandfather had not been some johnny-come-lately, hellfire-and-brimstone, hick-country preacher ... he had been a well educated and well respected minister and had led the Maine Baptist convention ... had actually reconnected the Maine Baptist Convention which had been split for something like 150 years! He was someone to be reckoned with. He brought his family (my grandmother) up north of here in Calais (pronounced callas), which is still in Washington County, Maine. He's not buried here, but his father is and so are the rest of his (and therefore my) ancestors.

And their descendants live on here too. I'm sure I have 4th, 5th, 6th and so on cousins living here even now. Ramsdell is a common name up here and I see it often. People's ears perk up when they hear it. It's not common anywhere else. And, maybe it was because I knew it, but I felt at home at the Blueberry Festival. I felt as tho I was among people who were common to me. The people were familiar ... and yet ... not ... all at the same time. It was very strange. The accent is strong here. I have a hard time with that as well. This is something I've struggled with all my life. I pick up accents (and languages) very easily. For instance, once we were at a Scottish Highlands Festival and were sharing a bus with a pipe band from Scotland, by the end of the weekend, I was speaking with a brogue that sounded as if I'd grown up in Scotland! It was embarassing, because I didn't want these new friends to think I was mocking them. This is even more difficult, because this accent is very close to the accent I grew up with. I'm finding myself thinking in the dialect and dropping "r"s and ... well ... it would be very easy speak like I've lived here all my life. In fact, the longer we stood in the mist and talked with the maid at the motel, the more I found myself fighting it.

So then I begin to wonder ... what keeps people here? Why did my great grandfather leave? What fire was in his belly? Why did my grandmother (and her siblings) leave Maine to go to New York and then Massachusetts? Why did I leave Vermont? What fire was in mine? What keeps me from going home? What kept my great grandfather from going home? Was it the same thing? In other words ... could there be a "leaving" gene and a "staying" gene? I wonder? Because the magnetic pull here for me is powerful. I feel it each time I'm here. There is something here ... something that is nowhere else in the world for me. I cannot define it. But it's only here in this place.

The only problem is that's the only thing that's here. Ghosts and memories. Dead relatives. And beautiful scenery (of course). There are no jobs. A lot of the young people leave. Altho Machias seems to be growing, Lubec is dying. How the people here survive is a complete mystery. The maid told us that her husband is an "urchiner". We don't quite know what to make of that. But the scallop beds are all fished out. So are the sardine beds. And the haddock beds (at the grocery store we found that the haddock is imported from Iceland) And the cod beds. And even for urchins they are only allowed to fish 65 days a year. It's sad. Who eats urchins? Do you eat urchins? Someone must be eating them. But it doesn't sound nice.

So once in a while ... about every 12 years or so I come back to this ghost town and remind myself of my roots. That I have a history that twines around roots of this country's and grew up with it. It helps to ground myself in who I am, where I've come from and the fact that it's okay that I didn't stay there.

21 August 2005

Pirouetting On the Edge of Disaster

New Hampshire

So New Hampshire is NOT like Vermont in so many ways. First, there is the state motto. Officially, it's "Live free or die." However with no motorcycle helmet or seat belt laws, it might as well be "Live free AND die." New Hampshire is much more libertarian than Vermont.

But it goes beyond politics or culture. Geologically and environmentally, New Hampshire is very different from Vermont. The mountains are different, the rocks are different, even the soil is different. It's kind of weird. Because everyone always likes to lump the two states together -- and they do fit together nicely in terms of shape. But ... I'm telling you, once you cross the Connecticut River, it's a whole different ball game.

It's as if the last Ice Age gave New Hampshire a different glacier or something. Or more reasonably what happened was that the glacier came through Vermont and the ocean came all the way through New Hampshire and what is now the Connecticut River Valley was the shore line.

When I was in 9th grade, we did a study of the direction the last glacier took when it came through Vermont. Our study is actually written up in the Vermont Geology books ... whatever they might be called. I helped the State of Vermont decide which direction the glacier took ... at the ripe old age of 14. That seems sort of funny. We did it by studying striations on pebbles ... and called it the Adamant Pebble Campaign. It seems to me that I should be able to tell you more about it now, but I can't. Perhaps because it happened 30 years ago and perhaps because I was more concerned with what Eddie Pierce thought of me than what my teacher thought or what I was learning. But, I remember enough to tell you something different happened in New Hampshire ... because the mountains are different. They are rougher and craggier, more like junior versions of the Rockies. Vermont's mountains are like Virginia's Blue Ridge ... and they are the northern end of that range (the Appalachians), round and welcoming, almost Rubenesque.

Even the soil is different. The soil in Vermont is black and loamy. The soil in New Hampshire is very sandy in nature. You almost feel as if you're at the beach. You can tell by the vegetation ... the trees that grow there are different too. There are lots of birches and aspens. In Vermont, there are lots of maples and pines.

I always get reminded of all of this when we drive through New Hampshire as we did the other day on our way to Maine. It cracks me up every time I tell someone I'm from Vermont and they say, "Oh, I was just up in New Hampshire ..." like they're the same place ... and ... well ... they're completely different. But I just smile and nod my head.

19 August 2005

Need A Friend?


that was the sign on a church just as we crossed the Connecticut RIver from Vermont into New Hampshire.

I have to wonder, tho ... It seemed kind of cold and removed to me. I know Jesus desires to be our "friend" in a certain sense. But in another very real sense I think He's made it pretty clear that we're to be His arms and legs .... His "body" here on earth. So I think He might like us to be friends with each other first. I wish churches would have signs that said, "Need A Friend? Come On In." or "Try Us."

Or, the reality is that people who need friends don't respond to impersonal signs anyway. So I think churches which are supposed to be about people and their needs (spiritual, emotional and physical), should dispense with marquees entirely, and put out something truly inviting like food ... or ... maybe ... beer.


So ... this morning we leave. I hate leaving. I'll cry the whole way up the camp road. I always do. I can never soak in enough of this place to last a whole year. And it's too far away to come up more than once a year. This year, by our own choice, we've been here a shorter time, but it doesn't matter. Last year we spent all three weeks here and it wasn't enough.

But we're leaving and going to Maine. I should stop whining. Maine is going to be fun. Interesting. We're looking forward to it. Really. LightHusband is. LightBoy is. I am ... guardedly. I've wanted to go back to this Blueberry Festival since I was 15 ... but here's the thing ... I know it's not going to be as good as my memory is. So they (LightHusband and kids) are going to have a great time. I will merely have a good time. But, perhaps it's been so long, and my memory is so dim that I will have a whole new and wonderful experience. And that will make it all worthwhile. Even the dial-up inter-net access.

18 August 2005

Poetry Thursday - Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Searching my heart for its true sorrow,

This is the thing I find to be:

That I am weary of words and people,

Sick of the city, wanting the sea;

Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness

Of the strong wind and shattered spray;

Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound

Of the big surf that breaks all day.

Always before about my dooryard,

Marking the reach of the winter sea,

Rooted in sand and dragging drift-wood,

Straggled the purple wild sweet-pea;

Always I climbed the wave at morning,

Shook the sand from my shoes at night,

That now am caught beneath great buildings,

Stricken with noise, confused with light.

If I could hear the green piles groaning

Under the windy wooden piers,

See once again the bobbing barrels,

And the black sticks that fence the weirs,

If I could see the weedy mussels

Crusting the wrecked and rotting hulls,

Hear once again the hungry crying

Overhead, of the wheeling gulls,

Feel once again the shanty straining

Under the turning of the tide,

Fear once again the rising freshet,

Dread the bell in the fog outside,--

I should be happy,--that was happy

All day long on the coast of Maine!

I have a need to hold and handle

Shells and anchors and ships again!

I should be happy, that am happy

Never at all since I came here.

I am too long away from water.

I have a need of water near.

17 August 2005

A First ... and a Last

So today LightBoy crossed the Rubicon. He swam out to the raft. Alone. Unaccompanied. LightHusband and I watched from the porch. Lightgirl was already on the raft with her friend. That was the carrot. He's been trying to do this since we got here. He's had permission. He's capable. But he didn't think he could. And today he did. He had to work his way up to it and he wore a life jacket and a noodle ... but he did it. Alone. He conquered his fear. Alone. I was really proud of him. Then I was sad too, because once it's done ... it's done. And after all that build up, he did it so casually. We couldn't even celebrate. Because we didn't want to call attention to all the times he'd chickened out.

Then he chased his sister and her friends yelling "I am Black Jack, the Pirate. Fear me!!" Now look at the picture and tell me if you'd be afraid?? What a silly boy!

A Day Late ...

... and a dollar short ... but here's my list for List Tuesday.

The Things I Love About Vermont.

It's Clean. Most of the people here love the land and they keep it clean. So the roadsides, and lakes and streams are not so littered with crap. and trash. and stuff.

No Billboards. By law. The state outlawed billboards about a hundred years ago and so we don't have them littering the roadsides either and the whole state is much prettier.

People bike here. And there are biking lanes on alot of roads. And if there aren't biking lanes, most of the drivers expect that there will be bikers (as in bicyclers not motorcyclers) and look out for bikers, mostly. Drivers here are respectful for the most part and look out for other vehicles ... even vehicles which are not other cars. Imagine that!!

I've actually lived longer away than here, but I'm still a Vermonter. And when I come home, people still know me and still know my family. This actually happened today at the chocolate factory where we had lunch. The owner knows my brother (who makes jam). It's a small state and you always know someone. I like that ... it keeps everyone respectful.

There are four clear seasons here. Well ... really five, if you count mud season. But we like to ignore that until it's upon us in the middle of April. But when the mud is up to your hubcaps, you really can't ignore it!! The good thing is that it doesn't last long. And it's followed quickly by a really gorgeous spring and it's always accompanied by sap season (which is the running of maple sap which means MAPLE SYRUP!!)

What I wish I could remember is why I wanted so desperately to leave when I was 22. But I did. Of course, if I hadn't I never would have met and married LightHusband so ... I guess it was all worth it.


I read the following article and I needed to share it in it's entirety without staining it with my thoughts. You just need to read it. It's from the New York Times this morning. I've added Grace by U2 ... I would have added the song to play while you read the article, but I don't think you can do that in Blogger ... so you'll just have to read the lyrics.

August 17, 2005

A Moment of Grace

In an age whose crabbed sense of justice finds expression in dismal phrases like "zero tolerance" and "three strikes and you're out," the events in a Long Island courtroom on Monday came as an undeserved gift, something startling and luminous.

It happened when Ryan Cushing, a 19-year-old charged with assault for tossing a turkey through a car windshield last fall, approached the driver he nearly killed, Victoria Ruvolo. Ms. Ruvolo, 44, suffered severe injuries and needed many hours of surgery to rebuild her shattered facial bones.

When Mr. Cushing left the courtroom after pleading guilty, he came face to face with his victim for the first time. He said he was sorry and begged her to forgive him.

She did. She cradled his head as he sobbed. She stroked his face and patted his back. "It's O.K.; it's O.K.," she said. "I just want you to make your life the best it can be."

She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that
Changed the world

And when she walks on the street

You can hear the strings

Grace finds goodness

In everything

Mr. Cushing was one of six teenagers out for a night of joy riding and crime, which often happens when childish aggression and stupidity merge with the ability to drive and steal credit cards. The five others have pleaded guilty to various acts like forgery and larceny, but Mr. Cushing, who threw the turkey, could have faced 25 years in prison. At Ms. Ruvolo's insistence, prosecutors granted him a plea bargain instead: six months in jail and five years' probation.

The prosecutor, Thomas Spota, had been ready to seek harsh punishment for a crime he rightly denounced as heedless and brutal. "This is not an act of mere stupidity," Mr. Spota said. "They're not 9- or 7-year-old children."

That is true. But Ms. Ruvolo's resolute compassion, coming seemingly out of nowhere, disarmed Mr. Spota and led to a far more satisfying result.

She's got the walk

Not on a wrapper on chalk

She's got the time to talk

She travels outside

Of karma, karma

She travels outside
Of karma

When she goes to work

You can hear the strings

Grace finds beauty

In everything

Many have assumed that Ms. Ruvolo's motivation is religious. But while we can estimate the size of her heart, we can't peer into it. Her impulse may have been entirely secular.

Court testimony by crime victims is often pitched as a sort of retributive therapy, a way for angry, injured people to force criminals to confront their shame. But while some convicts grovel, others smirk. Many are impassive. It's hard to imagine that those hurt by crime reliably find healing in the courtroom. Given the opportunity for retribution, Ms. Ruvolo gave and got something better: the dissipation of anger and the restoration of hope, in a gesture as cleansing as the tears washing down her damaged face, and the face of the foolish, miserable boy whose life she single-handedly restored.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


She carries a world on her hips

No champagne flute for her lips

No twirls or skips

Between her fingertips

She carries a pearl

In perfect condition
What once was hers
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stains

Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace finds beauty
In everything

Grace finds goodness
In everything

16 August 2005

A Little History

So today we went to a museum that LightHusband and I have been going to off and on since our honeymoon (18 years ago this month). We first started going to it by accident. Opie had given us two nights at a posh resort here on Lake Champlain. It was kind of funny because we fit in there kind of like Fred & Wilma. A very, very young Fred & Wilma. You had to dress for all the meals and we didn't have the requisite clothes and LightHusband didn't want to play tennis or sail; he wanted to fish ... which he did ... on the dock. And caught a sheepshead. Which is a very, very ugly fish ... with stones in it's ears (did you know that fish have ears?). In front of all these rich old people. We didn't fit in. But on the grounds of the resort, just inside the entrance, there was this funny square stone building with a sign on it that said, "Lake Champlain Maritime Museum." So we stopped in ... because anything had to be better than being tortured by properly behaving old rich people.

And we fell in love with the place. Which might have been just a little bit because we were in love too. But mostly it was because the museum is all about the history of Lake Champlain and boating ... specifically naval history on Lake Champlain. Which sort of astounded us. Even growing up in Vermont we didn't think there could be enough of that to have a whole museum dedicated to it. But there is. So here is a little history of Vermont for you. And I think it's important for the time we live in now. But maybe it's not. Maybe I just like history.

Vermont actually played quite a large role in the Revolutionary War. Did you know that? Not many people do. I didn't even know it and I grew up here. I grew up here AND I was fairly heavily involved in Revolutionary War re-enacting when I was in highschool and in fife & drum corps. I didn't really get much a flavor for it until I went to the Maritime Museum. We held the northern front against the British coming down out of Canada. There were many battles fought on Lake Champlain, and Vermont figured in all of them. Early on in the war, Ethan Allen (the hero for whom the furniture store was named ... and please, please, please remember at least that if nothing else) stole the main fort commanding the lake from the British,"... in the name of the Continental Congress and the Great Jehovah!" (in that order) at 4:30 a.m. after a night of revelry ... that fort: Ticonderoga ... which you probably know better for No. 2 pencils now than for military matters.

Benedict Arnold served with distinction in Vermont for several years. In fact, his service here is probably what led to his downfall later on. He broke his leg defending the lake. And his valiant efforts were garnered to another. Which led to bitterness on his part and ill suited posts in an attempt to make up the oversight ... and then treason.

None of this really made the history books, tho. George Washington never slept here. Because when the war was over, Vermont went her own way. We became our own nation for a time. We did not join the union until 1791. We attempted to do our own thing ... charge revenue for passage between Boston or New York and Montreal on Lake Champlain. That did not go over well with the powers that be. So we didn't make it in the history books. We're too small. And too independent. We've stayed that way over the years. We were the 14th state. We never had slavery on our books ... not ever. This is actually an accomplishment.

We're still somewhat independent. When my parents moved our family here in 1968 it was on the leading edge of the influx of "hippies and flatlanders" that came in the late 60's and early 70's. The old timey Vermonters looked askance at the hippies and flatlanders and declared that they are changing the state forever. But I don't think so. I think the state has stayed the same in character ... just the face has changed. After all, we were the last place in almost the whole world to get a Wal-Mart and that only after an extremely bitter court battle. And, it's not doing so well up here in independence land. Us Vermonters are loyal to our independent store owners to a certain extent. Wal-Mart is not doing as well here as they had hoped. So ... there! And, they're not getting another one. They only get one. For the whole state. Hah ... So ... there.

But ... here's what's important to learn from the Revolutionary War. This is actually more global. Our trip to the Maritime Museum got me thinking. We spend alot of time here trumpeting the fact that we won. But let's think carefully about this, and look at it from a little different perspective for a moment. It's not so much that we won, but really, that England ... LOST. Really, what happened was this. England, faced a quagmire half way around the world, fought by a bunch of raghead insurgents, who didn't know how to fight properly, and were only supported by a third of the local population (is any of this starting to sound familiar?). They didn't have proper armaments, and used whatever they had ... but here's the kicker ... they were fighting on their own turf. When I was at the Maritime Museum today I found out that Benedict Arnold designed and built these throwaway battle ships (really, they were floating gun docks) specifically made for Lake Champlain and specifically made to harass the British Army on Lake Champlain. It's long and involved and I won't go into the design aspects of it here ... but it was brilliant for the time. And it was part of what caused George III to lose his appetite for the war. We didn't win, England lost. Really, it's one of the most important lessons that we got out of the Revolutionary War and we seem to have forgotten it.

13 August 2005

On resolving Angst

So since the LightBrother/Uncle waved the white flag and cried "Uncle" (if you'll pardon the pun). And since I cannot let my children or my nieces down ... or let a family gathering go by without the requisite pancake breakfast, we breakfasted this morning on blueberry pancakes ... made with ... (dare I admit this publicly) Aunt Jemima's mix that had been doctored. Yep ... I caved ... I did not have it in me to gather together all of the ingredients, when the box just called my name.

The pancakes were declared delicious (my nieces and children were horrified that the LightUncle could even consider it a family gathering without pancakes ... but they are still willing to consider him a part of the family nonetheless) and there aren't any left!!

12 August 2005

Blueberry Pie - parte deux

So here are some things about making a blueberry pie. First, you should not get greedy and want too many blueberries in it. I always do this. I follow the recipe on the back of the "Minute Tapioca" box which calls for 4 cups of blueberries ... this never seems like quite enough. So I used about 5 and a half cups or so ... maybe 6. However many were in 2 pints of blueberries.

If you are going to be greedy and use too many blueberries because 4 cups doesn't seem like quite enough ... DO NOT tip the pie plate when you're pulling the aluminum foil off the bottom. At least don't tip the plate for very long. Because here is what will happen: the fruit will spill OUT. Into a puddle. In the pan which you have carefully lined with said aluminum foil so that you won't have to clean it (only now the aluminum foil is wadded up in your hand and the pan is full of a puddle of blueberry pie filling).

If you have done all of the above already ... be sure that 18 years before this, you married someone calm and steady like LightHusband who very calmly and steadily says to you, "No problem, I'll hold up one edge of the crust with a spatula and you can spoon the puddle back in. I know just the spatula ... it's that baby one hanging right there by your right hand."

So I remembered to breath ... and be kind to myself ... and followed his instructions. And one side of the pie looks a little funny, but it will still taste good.

Blueberry Pie

So I decided to make a blueberry pie this morning. My youngest brother and his family are coming tonight. He swears they'll be here by dinner. I doubt it. But maybe. My mom and dad will be back here too. My dad loves blueberry pie. Okay ... my dad loves pie ... of any sort. Okay ... my dad loves food ... of any sort. Especially if I make it. I was in my early thirties before I realized that as the only daughter, I was the princess in our house ... my dad hid it really, really well. And I'm pretty oblivious. Of course, I was married by then and couldn't take advantage of the situation except in retrospect. Which was probably a good thing, because I tend to the devious. So, now when I'm with my dad I bake pies or cakes or something. He likes it and I enjoy his reaction.

I watch LightGirl and her father's relationship and enjoy it. It's been fun to watch it develop. It's hard tho to keep myself out of it. I don't do such a good job of that. One of the hardest things as a parent is to understand that your children are not you. Especially the children who are the same gender as you. That their relationships with their parents are different from yours with your parents ... because your children have different parents (you). In fact, everything is different. Which seems like it should be so obvious and it is ... and ... yet ... it isn't. And then you have to start to watch them make the same mistakes you did and cringe knowing how hard it will be to learn those lessons. Wishing you could just pass that knowledge to them, like a piece of blueberry pie.

11 August 2005

Pancake Angst

So ... I first wrote the post below a little over a month ago. I never posted it because I was too proud and didn't want to admit how vain I am in this public forum. But I've lost some of my patina now. AND ... my brother has caved. He's wimped out. And not even to my face. He called my mother and whined that it's just too hard to make pancakes for 14 people anymore, so he'll take care of breakfast on Sunday. Loser!

So ... read on and you'll understand ...

For the second time my pancake formula has failed! This is the second time in a row. I know that might not mean much to you ... and at any other time of the year I might just shrug it off. But at this time of the year ... with the impending annual pancake cookoff with my brother at our camp in Vermont ... the timing is ... well ... rather critical. It's causing knots in my stomach. I might just lose this year. That's never happened before. Mostly because even tho my brother uses buttermilk, he also cheats and uses Aunt Jemima mix ... pooh. Who needs a
mix?! Not I ... said the purist. Especially the purist who would rather use her limited brain cells for memorizing pancake recipes than for (ohhh ... say) the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. After all what's more important??

Here's a deeply held secret that most of my friends don't know. My family knows this, but most of my friends do not. I'm ferociously competitive. It's why I don't play games (like Monopoly or Scrabble) ... because I'm not a good loser or a good winner either. I'm mean. I play to win and only to win or ... I get bored and start distracting everyone with silly stories. But in either case it's no fun for anyone if I'm at the table during a game. In fact, our little family almost didn't happen because of a vicious fight during a game of Trivial Pursuit way back in the beginning of time. But LightHusband is gracious and forgiving.

All of that is to say that I take this annual pancake cookoff fairly seriously. My brother does not. He knows how to play for fun. He does things like put peaches in his pancakes. Who would do something that risky during a cook off?? The LightBrother/Uncle looks around the kitchen and goes with his bliss ... not me. I go for straight up pancakes ... or at best ... Blueberry pancakes.

I don't mess around. And ... the completely unbiased judges have thus far awarded first place to me each and every year. The judges just happen to be LightGirl and LightBoy ... but don't tell anyone. The Camp Queen (mother to my brother and I) likes my pancakes better too, but she's not allowed to say so because she took that vow of maternal impartiality back before the beginning of time. My father just likes pancakes ... he doesn't discriminate. He can't be relied upon for accurate information. He eats too many, too fast, and uses too much syrup - but you didn't hear that from me. Our other brother likewise does not discriminate but it's different with him. I'm not sure how. He likes both of us ... he's the youngest and he wants to be in both of our good graces or something like that. The Outlaws (the spouses of all of us) wisely do not participate in the judging and my brother's children are too young to judge yet. My guess is that when they become old enough, we will griddle to a draw. Maybe by then I'll be old enough to find the fun in all of it, let go of the competitive edge and put peaches in my pancakes for a change. Or how about strawberries?

Picture of the Day

Runner Up Pictures

This is a series ...


The boats are all askance this morning. There is no wind. You can tell which direction the wind is blowing because the boats in the cove line up behind it like soldiers. Except when there is no wind. Then they fall out and hang around talking with each other.

Poetry Thursday - Laux

Dorianne Laux

We put the puzzle together piece

by piece, loving how one curved

notch fits so sweetly with another.

A yellow smudge becomes

the brush of a broom, and two blue arms

fill in the last of the sky.

We patch together porch swings and autumn

trees, matching gold to gold. We hold

the eyes of deer in our palms, a pair

of brown shoes. We do this as the child

circles her room, impatient

with her blossoming, tired

of the neat house, the made bed,

the good food. We let her brood

as we shuffle through the pieces,

setting each one into place with a satisfied

tap, our backs turned for a few hours

to a world that is crumbling, a sky

that is falling, the pieces

we are required to return to.

10 August 2005


So we're having a good vacation ... fishing for those who like to fish, swimming for those who like to swim, porch sitting for me. My parents were here yesterday evening and most of today. They'll be back for the weekend and my brothers and their families will be joining us. But here's the real fly in the ointment ... my friends back in Virginia aren't here. That's the real problem. I'm only with them during the humdrum of daily life. I don't get to share the fun of vacation with them. And I'm missing them all pretty badly. I said as much to LightHusband. He says that's what heaven is. It's not about pearly gates, gold streets, and crowns with jewels ... it's when we get to spend eternity with God and all our friends.

Aviation Engineering

So I wonder ... do aviation engineers study pictures like this when they're designing helicopters and things?


So my father says to me this morning, "We got an offer of $400K on this place. Should we take it and split it four ways? (meaning between my parents, my two brothers and me). What do you think we should do?"

I just looked at him. I was trying to figure out if he was kidding or not. Sometimes he's quite a kidder. But he seemed to be kind of serious ... perhaps testing the water.

So I told him about what Grandpa George told Charlie in the movie "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory." There was a scene right after Charlie found the last winning ticket, when he was with his grandparents and his parents, and all the grownups were trying to decide who would best accompany Charlie on the tour. Charlie put a stop to all the action by declaring that no one would go because he was going to sell the ticket for top dollar because they needed the money so badly. That was when Grandpa George stepped in, "Money is common," he told Charlie, "they print lots and lots of it every day. But this tour -- this tour is a once in a lifetime experience and you'd be a fool not to go on it."

So I looked at my dad and said, "Money is common, they print lots and lots of it every day ... but this camp is priceless."

He grinned at me and nodded his head.

09 August 2005

Thompson's Point

Porchtime View

So ... I'm here ... on the porch. At camp. Ahhhh. Breathing a huge sigh. It's Monday morning. But I did this last night too with the Lighthusband. We sat out here and made friends with the mosquitos while we reconnected and shared the tribulations of our separation. Well, I had shared my tribulations moment by moment ... now he needed to download.

Ahhh ... how to describe this place. First of all, it's been here for about a hundred years. Literally. The old part was built in 1890-ish. The "new" addition (which includes my bedroom) was built in 1914. We still call it the new addition. I have to tell you we are stiff-necked New Englanders. This camp (or cottage) came to our family through my maiden (though not virginal) aunt/cousin. She was my grandfather's cousin. The only child of my grandfather's father's brother. We were her only family. So she left this place and her whole estate to my mother. If it had happened that my mother had pre-deceased her, it would have all gone to my brothers and I. Funny. Not to my father. He was not her blood. Her grandfather (my great, great grandfather) put all the newfangled indoor plumbing into the grand mansions in Newport, Rhode Island at the end of the 1800s. That's the kind of stock I come from. Plumbers.

But ... back to camp. These "cottages" were built back at the turn of the last century ... when the Victorians held supreme. They were built by the rich men who ran New York City and who wanted a place for their wives and children to get away to when the heat, humidity and stench of summer became too much. So they built these getaway homes on Lake Champlain, Lake George, and in the Poconos. The families and serving staffs would come for the summer, the husbands for long weekends. You can tell that there were serving staff here, because the kitchen is on the back of the house away from the lake. There is a hole on the outside kitchen wall that used to lead to the "icebox". My mother keeps threatening to change things up and move the kitchen into the downstairs bedroom (which is in the old part and used to be the livingroom and which faces the lake). I think this makes perfect sense and challenge her to do it. But she always chickens out at the last minute. Two years ago when we were here they had the roof replaced. This year the wrap around porch has been replaced, but the workers will not be here while we are ... this is a welcome relief. The downstairs bathroom has also been replaced. We thought this would be wonderful, but it's almost too clean and nice. We had gotten used to it being "campy." I think we'll get over it.

The place is full of antiques. But to me it's just full of stuff that we use. My friend came here a couple of years ago and felt like she'd walked into a museum. She about fell over when I insisted that she actually use the stuff. But we do use it ... all of it. We always have. So did Opie. That's my aunt/cousin who we inherited it from. Aunt Opie. Her real name was Margaret .... but she would have knocked you over if you'd called her that. Everyone called her Opie ... my brothers even went through their "Star Wars" period calling her OpieWan ... they thought they were hilarious; she just indulged them.

So ... I've discovered that a very happy circumstance has happened this year. All my favorite people are here at once. Shirley and Bob are next door to our left with their children (who are friends with my children). Georgia is here from San Francisco with her children down to our right. And across the street Carolyn is here. She has managed to keep their family camp in the family one more year. She is the only one left of her siblings who has any interest in keeping their camp. Her other brother who liked it died two years ago and their parents are now too infirm (because they are in their LATE 90s). I usually get to see all my friends, but usually one at a time ... not all at the same time. And we are here for a short time this year, so I despaired of seeing any of them at all. Especially Carolyn.

So ... that's a little ... or really, a lot about where we're staying and where we stay every summer. Our children are growing up here (partially). I grew up here (partially). It's part of my DNA now. I remember one summer I came here for a week when I was 15 and brought a friend to stay with Opie. We decided to make pudding one afternoon, so I asked her if she had any. "Yes." says she. And she went to find the box. She pulled it out of the cupboard and my friend and I looked askance at each other because the box was at least 10 years older than we were!! The pudding didn't work.

I'll post some pictures later this week so you can see what the place looks like.

The Manure Truck

So, we're getting old, the LightHusband and I. The bed here at camp is giving us aches and pains. Actually it feels like sleeping on a board. This necessitates a trip to town ... to the new center for "big box stores" to find an eggcrate mattress pad to go on our bed so that we can survive this vacation with our tempers intact.

The roads here are somewhat bucolic. That's because there are two industries in Vermont. Tourism and agriculture. More to the point - dairy farming. That means that on any given day in Vermont on the two lane roads you may find yourself behind any number of farm equipment.

Today we found ourselves behind the most dreaded of all ... the manure truck. This is quite the multi-sensory experience. A manure truck looks like a small oil tanker with a large hose on the back which is used to blow liquified manure/fertilizer on the fields. The back half with the hose is covered in layers of ... well ... you know ... "crap" (euphemistically). Fortunately, we didn't have to follow it for very far. Because ... well ... it smells. But far enough for me to think this ...

There was once a time when this truck was brand spanking sparkly new. Some poor schmuck had to load the first load into that sparkling truck. I felt sorry for that poor guy. Then I thought some more and thought about how we look to God without Jesus to intercede for us. We are a multi-sensory experience not unlike that manure truck ... what a shame. The crown of His creation ... walking the earth looking like a much used manure truck. It was a very humbling thought.

06 August 2005

Getting Stuff Done

So I like getting stuff done. I really like to make lists and cross things off. But that means sitting still and writing the list out, so I don't always do that. But since I've written so much about it, I thought I'd post a picture of "the quilt" here. Because it's one big thing I've gotten done before I leave for vacation.

The ladies in my guild made the blocks. I made the center block with the purple heart. Then I put them all together and quilted it. I washed it last night and cut the hanging threads off it this morning. I will put it in a box and mail it. Mostly because I'm chicken ... and I've run out of time to deliver it in person ... but the "holy" reason is because I don't want to call attention to myself, I want it to be clear that this is coming from my guild.


So, these were supposed to be my days of solitude ... to recharge my batteries. Get rested. Do some sewing. Be alone with myself and with God. Well, you know that old saw about the best laid plans of mice and men ... or women. It's true.

Thursday my friend had to take her husband to the ER with numbness in his face and blurred vision. This was very scary for them. As you might imagine. It turned out to be Bell's Palsy ... which was mixed news. It was not a stroke or a heart attack, so that was good. But Bell's Palsy can hang around for an untold length of time, it strikes for unknown reasons. Sometimes it never goes away. So, in the evening after my friend got her husband home and resting, another friend and I went to sit and chat with her. Help her down from the adrenaline rush of the ER. Which we did and we ate some trail mix. And I finished sewing on the binding of "the quilt." And my two friends worked on their scrapbooks. Then it was time for me to go home because it was late and I was tired because of my late night chat with the bogeyman the night before.

I've discovered that you shouldn't take familiar routes late at night. You should take somewhat longer, safer routes late at night. The somewhat, longer safer routes will save you from fender bender car accidents. I had one that night. I went to get into a left turn lane that was just beginning, and forgot to turn my directional on and there was a car coming that was illegally driving in the lane and he ran into my driver's side front quarter panel. And we had to call the police. And he had his friends with him, but I was all alone. I mean all alone. And I could see the bogeyman out of the corner of my eyes ... lurking in the bushes on the side of the road. Waiting for me. So I called my two friends who I had just left. They, good souls that they are, jumped in their van and came to the gas station and waited with me for the police. They propped me up ... stiffened my knees and my backbone, smiled when I needed to smile and helped me be silent when I needed to be silent. Then they drove me home, and helped me pack a few things and I went and stayed at one of their homes for the night.

AND then they had a sleepover with me at my house last night and their husbands encouraged it and everything. And we had ice cream. And we sewed. And we laughed. And we giggled. And we watched Fresh Prince of BelAir re-runs. And this morning we prayed together for each other and our husbands (especially the Bell's Palsy). And then we all (their families included) went out to brunch at our favorite little diner here in town and ate way too much. I had my favorite veggie omelet. One of the twins had chocolate French toast and she even agreed it was too much chocolate.

So what I think I've learned is that while I've spent the last year yearning for solitude, I also need community ... but really the point is that I need to have both in balance. The key is moderation. The apostle Paul had it right when he said that all things are good, but have them in little bits. So ... I'm weak at the knees with gratitude for this community of sisters that I have. And I'm looking forward to getting up to Vermont and this view from the porch:

04 August 2005

The Bogeyman

So, I'm alone for a few days. It's interesting. I'm not sure it's all it's cracked up to be. I was looking forward to it, but now I think I'd like to push the rewind button ... the do-over button. If you've ever done the Myers-Briggs type indicator, I'm an "I" for introvert. This does not mean that I sit around in corners, but it does mean that I need significant alone time to recharge my batteries ... that being with people drains my batteries and being alone recharges me. So ... after these couple of days I should be on FULL UP! However, I'm thinking (after my one day) that perhaps this is something I need in smaller doses. That teaspoons on a daily basis, rather than gallons once a year, might be a better way to approach it.

For instance, here is one unforseen hurdle. Night time. And. The bogeyman. Perhaps you remember him? Well, I met him again last night. At 11:23. When I attempted to go to sleep without anyone else in the house, including the dog. Just me. And 9 fish (more or less).

The first time I met the bogeyman, I was about 8 or 9 and he was lurking on the porch roof outside my window. He was going to steal me from my family. Kidnap me. And force me to steal things from stores! Oh, the horrors. Sometimes he also lurked under my bed ... but mostly he was on the porch roof that was right outside my window.

Later, when I was in college, I came to Washington, DC for a semester at American University. Some friends of friends of our family asked me to housesit their lovely home in a toney upper NW neighborhood. Very safe. Except ... remember where I grew up. Walton's Mountain. That first night in their house, the bogeyman came back and re-introduced himself. So I did the only sensible thing for a single young woman on her own in the big city. I found the largest knife I could (I think it had about an 18" blade) and put it on a chair next to my bed. Then I turned on every light in the house, except for in my room. And the television. And the stereo. And the radio. And the clock radio in the kitchen. And I went to bed at about 2 a.m. The next night a young man of my aquaintance kindly offered to help keep the bogeyman at bay. But we all know he was interested in other things. He left in the wee hours of the morning; both of us frustrated because neither of our objectives had been met.

After that, I graduated from college, moved to DC and got a studio in a bad apartment building
(a renovated Mt. Pleasant rowhouse) with no security except a rickety deadbolt and lived there for 2 years with no qualms and no visits from the bogeyman. I came and went as I pleased and it would have scared my parents to death if they'd ever seen that place. I felt completely safe ... so what gives now that I live in safe suburbia? Is it that I'm old? That I watch too much Law & Order? hmmm ....

Now, however, I have learned a little bit about the bogeyman and myself. I've learned somethings about how to outwait him with the tv on. So I got a little more sleep. Tonight will be a little easier too as I get more used to it all. I may also borrow a friend's dog.

Poetry Thursday - Kipling

Natural Theology
Rudyard Kipling


I ate my fill of a whale that died
And stranded after a month at sea. . . .
There is a pain in my inside.
Why have the Gods afflicted me?
Ow! I am purged till I am a wraith!
Wow! I am sick till I cannot see!
What is the sense of Religion and Faith :
Look how the Gods have afflicted me!


How can the skin of rat or mouse hold
Anything more than a harmless flea?. . .
The burning plague has taken my household.
Why have my Gods afflicted me?
All my kith and kin are deceased,
Though they were as good as good could be,
I will out and batter the family priest,
Because my Gods have afflicted me!


My privy and well drain into each other
After the custom of Christendie. . . .
Fevers and fluxes are wasting my mother.
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
The Saints are helpless for all I offer--
So are the clergy I used to fee.
Henceforward I keep my cash in my coffer,
Because the Lord has afflicted me.


I run eight hundred hens to the acre
They die by dozens mysteriously. . . .
I am more than doubtful concerning my Maker,
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
What a return for all my endeavour--
Not to mention the L. S. D!
I am an atheist now and for ever,
Because this God has afflicted me!


Money spent on an Army or Fleet
Is homicidal lunacy. . . .
My son has been killed in the Mons retreat,
Why is the Lord afflicting me?
Why are murder, pillage and arson
And rape allowed by the Deity?
I will write to the Times, deriding our parson
Because my God has afflicted me.


We had a kettle: we let it leak:
Our not repairing it made it worse.
We haven't had any tea for a week. . .
The bottom is out of the Universe!


This was none of the good Lord's pleasure,
For the Spirit He breathed in Man is free;
But what comes after is measure for measure,
And not a God that afflicteth thee.
As was the sowing so the reaping
Is now and evermore shall be.
Thou art delivered to thine own keeping.
Only Thyself hath afflicted thee!

03 August 2005

On Waste

So I've been thinking alot as I finish this quilt for my aquaintance/friend. The one who has lost part of his leg to the war in Iraq. I'll be honest here and say that I've not been in favor of this war right from the get go. This was not a war that we needed to fight. But that's not what I've been thinking about as I've been working on this quilt and watching the death toll rise. Here's what has been knocking around in my head. It counts for Afghanistan and London and Madrid and Cairo, too. It's really more of a question ... If we consent to letting the police search our bags, search our persons ... really to unwarranted searches ... if we just roll over and consent (out of fear) to all of the abrogations of our rights that are guaranteed in our Constitution, then it really seems to me that all of these deaths and dismemberments that our armed forces have suffered have really been in vain. Maybe I shouldn't say that in my "out-loud" voice. But ... really ... it seems to me that one of the ways we can support our troops is to make sure that they're dying for something worthwhile and that we're not just rolling over and playing dead back here at home. That maybe sticking up for ourselves is a more worthwhile support than sticking magnetic ribbons on the family car.