30 September 2005

Lying Liars

So, as I've been telling you, I'm still reading Searching For God Knows What, by Donald Miller. I just finished the chapter called "Morality: Why I'm Better Than You." I really liked that title and thought it was pretty funny, because Don Miller doesn't really think he's better than really anybody. He spent a lot of the chapter comparing the message of Jesus that we read in the Bible, which is to love all people, with the message of a lot of his current followers, which is to hate people who are different from them. Now that may sound fairly harsh. And I admit that I said that to get your attention. Miller was mostly talking about what the "church" in the United States has spent a lot of time and resources on in the last 10 years or so. They call it: the "Culture War." And use a lot of war analogy to whip their people into a frenzy to make sure they "live right," behave "morally," etc. And he finishes the chapter admirably. And I finished it last night.

So I found it both funny-weird, and funny-ha ha, that when I checked my head-lines this morning I found this article on liars and their brains. It seems that pathological liars have more white matter (which transmits information) in their pre-frontal cortexes than the rest of us normal folks do. We have more grey matter (which processes information). Which led me to wonder, does the excess white matter cause the lying? Or does the lying cause the excess white matter? Which comes first? That has yet to be determined. I find all of this study of brains fascinating and wonder where it will lead.

29 September 2005

Poetry Thursday - Flurie

by Bryce Alan Flurie

After heaving a tractor out of the
grandest woodchuck hole in Central Pennsylvania,
the cast iron hung back on the wall
after dinner without you,
all that's left is to drink our
pot of Darjeeling without your
old yellowed mug beside mine,
and wish you back across oceans.

But now, children cry and
clothes need folded,
and the damned sugar bowl
needs filled again.
Ah, but then
a bluebird lands
on the rusty clothesline pole.

28 September 2005

More on Shopping

So I looked up this week and LightGirl has grown again. She needs new clothes ... AGAIN! I think there must be laws against growing this fast or this much. And I think it must be painful, although she doesn't complain. So off we went this evening to get some bottoms; some shorts (because it's still warm enough, especially in North Carolina) and some long pants. We went to a large department store here in town. I also needed to replace my purse. I hate that chore. Once I get a purse, I like to keep it for a long time. This latest one did not last long enough. I just got used to it when the strap broke.

There we were in the department store. The selection was dizzying. I cannot really handle all those choices. It literally makes my head spin. I'm un-American in this ... I do not enjoy shopping. In fact, I cringe when I think of it and I try to avoid it. We did manage to find two pairs of shorts and two pairs of long pants, and a pair of flip flops for LightGirl and a new purse for me which promises to completely organize my whole life for $20.80 ... well $32.00, but it was 35% off.

What really bothers me is how many items are "Made in China" or "Made in Sri Lanka" or some other Asian country. It's not that I don't want to buy from Asian countries because I have something against Asians. I don't. Or that I think the products are cheap. It's that the products **are** cheap. They are too cheap. You see, I've come to realize that everything, every single thing that is for sale in this country and indeed, every where, costs a certain amount of money to make. If I (as the final customer) do not pay that price for that product, then someone else must absorb the cost of production, transportation, etc. Usually that someone else is the lowest man on the totem pole ... a woman or child in the factory that produced the item in China or Sri Lanka. The next someone would be the person or people who are working the modes of transportation to get the stuff to me here (boats, and trucks). The last someones would be the people working the floor of the store where I buy it. Those people are all absorbing my "low prices." When I don't pay the actual price that something costs, someone else absorbs the difference and pays with their hunger, and their health and their well-being. And somehow that just doesn't seem right.

Why I Don't Shop At Wal-Mart

So a lot of you know that I don't shop at Wal-Mart. Some of you may not know this. I make noises about Chinese labor laws and children suffering and the poor here and there. But I realized today the real reason why I don't shop there. It's personal for me. They union bust. The corporate heads at Wal-Mart hates unions. And for me, that's personal. You see, my grandfather was a Teamster. Not only was he a Teamster, but he was framed for his union building activities in the 1930's (when my father was just a small boy) and put in jail for a year. My father spent that year in an orphanage. Eventually the fact that he was framed became public knowledge, my grandfather was pardoned by the governor of Massachusetts, and my father's family was reunited. People who bust unions do all sorts of evil things and I will not support them in any way. It's that personal.

P.S. For some reason I feel compelled to add this ... that because I'm against union busting, does not (in a weird way) make me pro union. I'm in favor of people organizing themselves to protect their interests, but I think that the time when unions were able to be effective at the national level has passed.

26 September 2005

Grammy O.

I think my largest regret is that shortly before my Grammy O. died of leukemia in 1989 I sent her a letter in which I poured out to her my anger with God for causing her to die this hateful cancer-ridden death. I was just about turn 28 years old and she was just about to die days before her 80th birthday (which was 3 days before my birthday). She was one of my very best friends. And I was M. A. D. that she was dying. I knew that everyone has to die. But that was in the theoretical sense. She was my Grammy. She wasn't supposed to die yet and she certainly wasn't supposed to die of this wasting awful disease that stole her in bits and pieces. She was supposed to be here to meet my children and see that LightBoy has her nose and eyes, and my Grampy O's sense of humor. She was supposed to be here to see the quilts that I make on her sewing machine (except that I really couldn't do that on her sewing machine if she were alive and using it). She certainly wasn't supposed to have been diagnosed with leukemia the week after I got married and die less than 2 years later. That was never part of my plan.

I talked to her often. At least two or three times a week, and always in the early mornings. She and I were/are both early birds. I could always count on her being awake to talk early in the morning before I went to work. Early May birds we two. With our birthdays three days, but 50 some-odd years apart. Most of the time now I only miss her a little, but some days something will happen ... and I'm never sure what it is ... but something will happen and I will have this flood of memories or just of missing hurt. Because here's the thing. I have a wonderful mom, but like with all moms, she and I have holes. Places where we just don't fit. And my Grammy O filled in a lot of those places. I've bumped along without her, with her memory holding me togther. But today is one of those days that I just miss her like crazy. And it's just going to be too pea-pickin' long til I see her again.

25 September 2005

My Hero

So yesterday my trusty chair broke. You wouldn't think it would be a big deal. Except that it was my sewing chair. My sewing chair is a big deal. I spend a significant amount of time in it, I need to be able to sit properly in it. And most of all, I need to be able to adjust the height according to the activity I'm engaging in ... actually sewing, or cutting fabric.

But my chair broke. In the middle of a project. I could still use it, but it was annoying me.

So, my hero leapt to his feet. Bounded aboard his trusty white charger (other days it looks like our gold minivan) and rode away to the nearest Staples. While there he faithfully and stoically sat in ...

every ...

single ...

chair ...

Before choosing the perfect chair for me.

At least that what he says. We do not yet have the chair, because the minions at Staples could not put it together last night. So we await their summons by telephone this morning.

I am patiently dealing with my old chair. It will do for now. It lasted far longer than we ever expected it to.

My Hero ... did not sit on the sofa last night playing his video games. He went to Staples. Chivalry is not dead. The knights of old still ride ... they just have different horses.

24 September 2005

What's Missing?

So I'm **still** reading Searching For God Knows What, by Donald Miller. It's my bed time reading, which means that sometimes I re-read the same several paragraphs several days in a row before I feel like I really know what I've read and can go on. Not that the writing is all that deep, it's that's how tired I am when I go to bed and read at night.

In the latest chapter Don related how he was once teaching a class at a local Christian college. It was a Bible class. One period he decided to present **the Gospel**. He told the students, (who were all bright, intelligent, Christian young people) that he was going to leave something crucial out. He told them this ahead of time so that they could be listening to hear what was missing. Then he presented **the Gospel** ... the whole thing, the beauty of creation, the Fall, death, morality, etc., etc. God loves us, salvation ... everything but he left Jesus out of it (I'm still not sure how he managed it, but remember I'm reading this at night). And those bright young things never missed it. At first I was shocked, and this was one of the sections I had to read again.

And then the LightHusband began to relay a drama that he has been in the midst of. A certain friend who is a very strong "Christian" (we'll call him Jim) had become very angry with another friend (we'll call him Brian) and behaved in a very angry manner. Brian had responded by saying (essentially -- and in an e-mail), "Hey, wait a minute, aren't you supposed to be religious? The things you say are not lining up with the way you are behaving right now." Jim responded with, "Hey I'm forgiven, I'm not perfect and anyway, I've got Jesus, so I don't have to be perfect. It's not about how I act, it's about what I believe." And continued on and on in a vein that completely absolved himself of any wrong-doing. And tho he mentioned Jesus by name several times, the Jesus who loved people and was merciful and gracious and loving was not part of the "conversation." Don't get me wrong, on his better days, Jim totally believes that he has a burden to "share Jesus" with others. But he's somehow managed to compartmentalize his life in such a way that he doesn't need to change his behavior at all in response to his relationship with his Savior.

I've been thinking about these kinds of things a lot lately. Sometimes they make me angry. Other times sad. I've been trying to sort myself out. I spent a long time in a church that had some very stern definitions of what it meant to be a Christian. It made life very easy. But it couldn't answer a lot of questions I had. Questions like the one Brian posed to Jim. I don't believe Jim answered it very well ... at least not within the context of what he says he believes.

I think, tho, I'm finally coming to a place where I can put some of those questions to rest. I think that many so-called organized religions are organized around the idea that they can somehow manipulate God to manipulate their fellow human beings. It turns out that Karl Marx may have been right when he declared religion to be an opiate for the masses. Marx wasn't necessarily denouncing God, so much as he was denouncing those who would use God in order to keep His created beings under their thumbs.

On one hand this knowledge makes me angry. On the other hand this makes me sad and then guilty. Sad, because we should all be free to make our own choices. Guilty, because I know for sure that I've done and said things that are so terribly manipulative in the name of God that I'd like to just hide for several hundred years in shame.

This love standard that Jesus gave us ... to love people enough to let them go, let them make their own decisions, even when we know they're bad, wrong, whatever, and continue to love them ... it's brutally hard. But that's where true freedom can also be found and so ... I think that's where I want to go. That's the path I want to follow.

22 September 2005

First Level of Hell-oween

So ... you know you're a mom when you start making Halloween costumes in September ... and planning them in August.

LightGirl came to me at the end of August with this request. "I want to be a witch this year, Mom. But I want to be a Harry Potter witch. Like Hermione ... but not actually **be** Hermione. And here's a picture of the robes I want you to make." And were they like your typical wizard's robes like you think of (think tent, with a hood)? No. They looked more like this:

And it must be "straight" (i.e. plain) black velvet, with a green yoke, and green lining in the sleeves. But I've been let off the hook here, I'm told by LightGirl, because with a long dress (she assures me), she can wear regular shoes. She will not need any special shoes. Ohhhhhh ... k.

This is good because I just spent an afternoon at the fabric store choosing fabric ... ELEVEN YARDS of fabric for this dress (I mean, costume). Eleven yards of fabric. Eleven. She is not going to be able to walk. And the pattern has about ninety-hundred pieces. I am not going to spend a lot of money on shoes. Regular shoes will be good.

Thankfully (almost), LightBoy wants to be some Bionicle or other. This cannot be duplicated in fabric. At least not by me. It will have to be purchased. He has already found his costume on e-Bay. What a good boy. What a kind son. He has figured out how to wear a bicycle helmet on his face for a mask. I don't think it's comfortable, but it doesn't appear to be unsafe. If you think it's unsafe, please let me know.

There was much less pressure when we didn't "do" Halloween. But also much less fun.

Poetry Thursday - Angelou

Touched by An Angel
by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare to be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

21 September 2005

Room Assignments

So I handed out the room assignments today.

In 10 days we head for Nags Head and a week of communal living.

This is our third year of this. We rent a house for a week in October with several other families. We can do this because we homeschool. Trust me when I tell you that the Outer Banks of North Carolina are delightful in October. There is almost no one there. The weather is still warm and so is the ocean. The beaches are almost empty. So are the stores. So are the dolphin watching tours and the kayaking rentals and the state parks and the national parks. We go ghost crab hunting at night and dune climbing during the day.

Every evening is someone else's turn to make dinner. So we each only have to make dinner one time. This works out well for everyone. Then there is one night which is a communal dinner that we all make. That is a crazy night. And fun too. The kids all eat at the breakfast bar, dangling their feet and demanding to eat sooner ... hungry from so much activity all day. Eyes all sparkly, mouths all grinny, bodies all wiggly ... they can't sit still, they have too much to say to the cooks and to anyone who will listen.

In the mornings, the early risers take coffee across the street to watch the sunrise over the ocean. That is when you catch God at His finest hour. It snatches my breath away to see the sun come up over the ocean and reminds me once again of how small I am. Of my true place in the grand scheme of things. Of my amoeba-likeness on the chessboard of the universe.

Only 10 days left before we leave ... but who's counting?

19 September 2005

We're Not In Kansas Anymore!

So I have to tell you at the outset that I was encouraged in this particular memory by the BrickFriends. This one is on them.

I was born in western Massachusetts. When I was 6 months old my parents moved our little family to Kansas so my father could continue his education at Kansas State University. Then he became a fellow at the Menninger Foundation. He did research in psychiatry. I guess he was good at what he did. But to me he was daddy. In any case, we New Englanders lived in Kansas, which must have been very hard for my mother because she hates the wind. For the last 2 years we lived at the top of the only hill in Kansas in an old house. That was the most fun place. There were lots and lots of chicken coops. My mother raised chickens to help supplement the family income. My dad almost got bit by a copperhead snake outside one of the coops one day just before we moved.

When I was 6 years old we moved back east. At first we lived with my dad's parents and I began elementary school in the same school my father went to. But then after a month he got a job working for the Department of Mental Health for the State of Vermont. We moved again and I grew up in Vermont. At least I managed to be born in a New England state. My poor brothers had to bear the shame of being born in Kansas. They are real "flatlanders."

One of the things I remember best about Kansas was the roly-poly bugs. Most of you probably call them pillbugs, or potato bugs. But "us kids" (that is, my brothers and I) called them roly-poly bugs. We were fascinated by them. Kansas had TONS of them. They congregated underneath all the rocks. Then, when he was about 18 months old, my youngest brother discovered that roly-poly bugs tasted GOOD! And he would eat them by the hand full. Now I want to assure my readers that he discovered this ... all ... by ... him ... self. He was not encouraged in any way, shape, or form by his elder siblings. At least not that I remember. However, once we discovered this new appetite of his, we certainly helped him with it. Why wouldn't we?? After all, as his older brother and sister it was our job to help him grow big and strong with more snacks! And somehow we managed to do this for quite sometime without attracting the eye of Mordor (I mean, Mother).

Then ... we moved to Vermont. There are no roly-poly bugs in Vermont. Not one. None. There are however, lots and lots of rocks. So middle brother and I turned all of them over in a vain attempt to find more snacks for little brother. And one day in the middle of our first summer we managed to find a solitary roly-poly bug. The shouting and glee with which we summoned baby brother also attracted the eye of Mordor (I mean, Mother) and so she came too, to see what all the fun was about. And arrived just in time to see her baby boy pop a tasty morsel into ...

his ...


While her older two children jumped for joy and cheered him on.

And that pretty much took all the fun out of roly-poly bugs from then on.

the end.

16 September 2005

(Un)Welcome Signs

So I was driving the LightChildren home from their class today and I saw the following sign outside a local church:

Try God:
If you don't like Him
The devil will be glad
to take you back.

And here I thought the purpose of such signs was to woo people in. But apparently it's to gross them out. Make them laugh. Horrify them. Or let them know that there are those just like them inside.

More and more I find that I would like a new name for the followers of Jesus. I mean the people who read the red words in the Bible. Or maybe that makes me just as bad as everyone else ... because now I'm also splitting hairs. But I really don't want to associate myself with the kind of people who put signs like that in front of their church. Because that's really so unloving. And Jesus spent so little of His time on things like that. He spent his time and energy making sure that people knew they were loved and valuable ... and ... well ... welcome.

15 September 2005

Things I Do

Here are some of the things I do in no particular order ... it's not all I do. Because it doesn't take into account the errands, the phone calls from friends and family when they have a crisis (or not). It doesn't account for silly times, and ice cream. It doesn't account for movies and magic. Or any of the oddments that real life is made up of. It's just the big rocks that go into the jar of my life. Then I fill in around the edges with everything else.

I run our home and house ... this is a full-time job by all the standards set down by our government. Fortunately, LightHusband considers running the house a team effort and he does alot of this too. He likes to iron among many other things. The other thing is that we do not have very high standards.

I home educate our children (3rd and 6th grades). This is also a full time job according to the department of education. At home in the mornings I teach them the basics (math, writing, grammar, spelling, history, science, health, hygiene, manners, household maintenance-hah-see above, etc.) then in the afternoons we go to 4-H (Mondays) and swimming lessons (Tuesdays) and French lessons and a science class on basic machines (Thursdays) and a Kids Can Make a Difference on Hunger Project (Fridays) and I teach Latin twice a month (Wednesdays - not that I know Latin ... I just keep a couple of steps ahead of the kids, keep dancing, and have a couple of good curricula).

I'm helping to run our church ... which means I help run the service each week and sometimes I even give the message, deliver the content (the non-sermonic exploration); I have a certain responsibility to God for what people hear about Him every week ... along with the rest of the leaders of our church ... there are about 7 of us. In the aggregate (do you like that word?) I spend about somewhere around 10 or 15 hours a week on this when you consider my odd time daydreaming, reading and websurfing - but it bums the rest of the team out when I do too much websurfing ;-) because I seem to find the weird sites, the oddities, the funny places and that sends us on too many tangents that we really shouldn't go on. So I try hard to stay focused.

I'm helping to run a quilt guild ... I'm on the board. As a former prez, I'm the go-to gal for the prez and the vp and the secretaries ... we talk often about the health and welfare of the guild. We were in the news this week for a quilt-in for the victims of Katrina. I didn't have anything to do with that ... except that when I was president a few years ago, I put a huge emphasis on community service and that seems to have really stuck with the members and carried on, but I really don't think that has anything to do with me. I do the newsletter every month and try to maintain a sad little website that I wish were better, but usually my choice is website ... OR ... sew ... hmmmm. I spend about 10 hours a week on guild stuff ... especially if you include the fact that I belong to a bee. That's my quilting ladies. We gather twice a month in the evening and until recently I was the youngest by far. While everyone else swaps grandchildren stories, I tell children stories - I keep them young; they keep me old ... I don't think that's a very even trade. But somehow we're all very good for each other and I miss them when I don't go at least once a month.

Then of course ... I do like to quilt. Which is the reason that I even belong to a quilt guild. I keep telling myself that I don't do very much. Because after all ... all I'm in is guild and church. I don't work, I'm a stay-at-home mom. Why am I so tired all the time? And never have enough time to read or do the things I really want to do? Why are the quilts that are in my head still screaming to get out, even on paper? When I write it all down ... now I know
why I don't seem to have a lot of so-called "free" time! Unless you consider that it's all "free" time. All the time I have is all the time anyone has. So I should quit griping ..... and get back to teaching, and quilting, and reading and most of all the laundry ... because ... well ... we're out of clean clothes this week!! ;-)

Poetry Thursday - Service

Robert William Service

What puts me in a rage is
The sight of cursed cages
Where singers of the sky
Perch hop instead of fly;
Where lions to and fro
Pace seven yards or so:
I who love space of stars
Have hate of bars.

I wince to see dogs chained,
Or horses bit restrained;
Or men of feeble mind
In straight-jackets confined;
Or convicts in black cells
Enduring earthly hells:
To me not to be free
Is fiendish cruelty.

To me not to be kind
Is evil of the mind.
No need to pray or preach,
Let us our children teach
With every fond caress
Pity and gentleness:
So in the end may we
God's Kingdom bring to be.

14 September 2005

Famous Friends - Parte Deux

So my AwakeFriend was writing about his friends who are in the news ... but he neglected to let us know about his own brush with the media. So I guess I'll have to out him here.

Memory Lane ... Wednesday

Sorry ... I was fresh out of memories on Monday. But I had one just now. So you'll have to bear with me.

When I was a kid ... I mean, really a kid (like in young elementary school) all the boys used to get butch haircuts twice a year ... once at the beginning of the school year and at the beginning of summer.

We had our lawn mowed today. And I just drove up and thought how much our lawn reminds me of those haircuts ... all sharp and fresh. I was always a little jealous of those boys and their cool heads in the summer.

13 September 2005

Little Whats?

So I have a friend named P3T3. P3T3 has a blog. You can read it too if you follow this link. On P3T3's blog, he posted a link to this article which was originally in Harper's Magazine. It's very long, but it's a challenging look at what it really means to be a Christian. Among many things the author reflects on the call that Jesus made to his followers to "love your neighbor as yourself." It made me reflect on the fact that the word "Christian" means little Christ. That if I want to call myself the name "Christian," I should be worthy of being called a little Christ.

Shortly after I finished reading the article -- and I must confess here that it took me three sittings -- I went driving during rush hour. And now I must also confess that I am not a little Christ ... because I am not capable of loving my neighbor at all ... at least not during rush hour.

That order was too tall for me. I failed the test.

Tonight, then, I'm very thankful for grace.


So I don't do these things lightly. But take a moment and follow this link. And if you feel so led, sign the pledge. I did. I think if enough people stand up and say that we're done with the nonsense, that we see through the smoke and mirrors, that we want what's good and right in our country back, then maybe we can stand in the gap for the next couple of years and survive.

11 September 2005

A Baby Shower

So I spent my entire day on Saturday at a baby shower. Yep ... you read that correctly. The whole day. At a baby shower. Yes. Those are pictures from said baby shower. For this baby shower was a "barn raising." Or more properly, a "play set raising." But that doesn't have quite the same ring to it. So we still called it a barn raising. Just as in the old days there was even some sewing; we made a flag for the set when it was done.

One of my friends had a baby. It was her second baby and her second boy. So a traditional baby shower just seemed redundant. And traditional. And she is not a terribly traditional person. At least not in the traditional way. If you know what I mean. But she really likes to gather all her friends around her and it seemed like a great idea to have us all together to put this complicated play set together. So we did. And we welcomed the baby into our corner of the world. And we enjoyed each others' company for the day. And now they have a play set. And we all have some great memories of a great day spent together.

Some traditions are most excellent.


So at my church we had a sort of service that looked at 9/11 a little bit today. We did it (as everything) in a bit of a different way. We used some video from a concert that Sting did. He put together a concert in September 2001 at his home in Tuscany and videotaped all the rehearsals and everything. Then the dress rehearsal on September 10, 2001. And then ... September 11, 2001 everything changed and so we used his band members' reactions and then their rendition of "Fragile" as a springboard for a time of some silent solitude reflecting on whatever we each needed to.

I have to say it was a powerful time for me. But as I listened to the words of "Fragile" I heard this:

"How fragile we are...

.... on and on ... the tears fell like rain ..."

and listening to Sting sing this song made me think that God must cry every day. And it changed, in an instant, my whole picture of God and how He loves us. By that I mean it's like I knew it before but now it came into focus better. Like when you're at the eye doctor's and you're getting fitted for new lenses and the chart suddenly clicks into focus -- what was very blurry is now very clear. But it's only momentary because in order to make sure they have everything just so, they have to change something else again. So, for just a moment there, I really understood how abysmally sad God is on His side that His relationship with us is so broken. It was in focus. "His tears fell like rain." We are all so lost wandering around this planet without God. Even those of us who dare to draw closer to Him. It's all broken. And won't and can't be fixed ... without Him.

How fragile we are ...

09 September 2005

Adieu, mon ami

So, sometimes you do have to say good-bye. I'm realizing that now in the wake of Katrina. I have to say good-bye to New Orleans. Or, perhaps, "Adieu." It was a beautiful city. I visited in 1983 when I was 21. I almost didn't leave. Such is the magic and magnetism of the city. I know why those people didn't want to leave their homes and why they lived there. It's a beautiful and magical place.

In 1982 I came to Washington, DC and studied in a program at American University. A fellow student was here from Tulane University. During the following summer I was an intern in my senator's office here in DC. I got just enough of a tax refund and it came in just enough time so that I could go to New Orleans during my February break in 1983 and visit my Tulane friend and it just so happened that year that my break coincided with Mardi Gras. Whooo Hooo!!! And it so happened that several other friends (including my Arabic teacher) were also going to visit other friends of theirs. I mean ... why not??!! So, we travelled to Boston, and then from Beantown to the Big Easy together. Once we got there tho we more or less went our separate ways for the week, but kept bumping into each other.

There are hardly any words or maybe there just aren't enough that can describe that whole experience. There were the parades and the flying beads and the glittering costumes. I kept the beads for years and years until their magic grew dim behind the dust and finally all that remained were the memories.

Then there was piano player in the bar that purported itself to be Jean LaFitte's hangout. Her fingers danced across the keys, birds cavorting in the sunshine. Somehow they were not part of her and yet she moved with them at the same time. I could have watched her play all night, but my companions were not so content.

We white kids stumbled into a black neighborhood on Tuesday morning during the parade that is dedicated to the African-American community (you'd think I could remember what it's called). We just got off the bus when it came to the end of the line and walked til we found a parade. We were there for about half an hour before we realized, "oh ... look ... we're the only white folks for several blocks." We kind of wondered why we weren't getting any beads at that parade. But we soon figured out that if we held the little kids on our shoulders, then they could at least get some beads for themselves and we could enjoy their joy. And through that act of "giving" we became part of that community for that moment. They gathered us up to themselves just as if we lived there.

And there on the corner by the wharf down on the river ... get you a Times-Picayune and a cafe au lait and a beignet at the Cafe du Monde ... sit there for a while and read the news of the day and soak up the music and the sun on your back and listen to the breezes blow and the boats on the river.

Adieu, mon ami ....

08 September 2005


R.W. Emerson

Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes,
And marching single in an endless file,
Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
To each they offer gifts after his will,
Bread, kingdoms, stars, and sky that holds them all.
I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp,
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
Took a few herbs and apples and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
Under her solemn filet saw the scorn.

07 September 2005


So lately there's been a lot of press about the evils of the President and his minions. About how lazy they were in the face of Katrina. How they let people die while Condi shopped for shoes (what is it with women and shoes ... remember Imelda and her shoes? It's a mortal sin for a woman to have shoes). I've been pretty angry myself. There was a huge breakdown at many levels of our government that led to the devastation we saw down south. The stuff that nature brought we had no control over ... but how we responded to it, we had all kinds of control over, and we all failed. Every single one of us. On the right. And on the left.

You see, here's the thing we have to remember in our kind of government. When there is a failure of this magnitude, we do not have the luxury of sitting back and pointing fingers. Because we are a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." Therefore, a failure of government, is a failure of ...




But ... here are some things I've been thinking about. Some places we've all been led astray in the last several years by our leaders. Actually one thing that I've done a lot of thinking about. It's magic. Specifically, magical thinking. There's a real temptation amongst our leaders and especially conservative leaders to engage in what I call, "magical thinking." You hear it all the time when people say things like, "Well, those people chose to live there." "Poor people choose to be poor." Or they'll say things like "Giving tax cuts to the wealthy will trickle down to the lower levels of society." Fantastic! Prove it, please.

Then I read this quote in a book I'm currently reading: "Reality is a like a fine wine, it will not appeal to young children." Ouch. It stings. It stings personally and it stings culturally. It means that we all have to grow up and learn to like fine wine (and good chocolate and good cheese and all of those other things that do not appeal to children). We have to grow up and take on the hard tasks of adulthood in addition to the "fun" that we have become addicted to.

Whether the conservative right likes it or not, a government does have a responsibility to care for the "least of these" amongst us. At least, here in this country we have decided that is so. We have decided that amongst civil society we will care for our old, and infirm, and unable, our widows, our orphans, those who need health insurance. It's not fun. And yes, there will be those who try to take advantage of this system. There are always those who will be wolves in sheep's clothing, but should we punish all of those with real needs because of a few wolves? I don't think so. It takes the hard work of adults, who enjoy fine wine at the end of a day, who are willing to give up a bit of their work, so that others might eat and sleep well. It takes all of us adults working together to make our country work. It does not take magic.

05 September 2005

Memory Lane Monday

So this time of year is always about my Grammy Charlotte to me. Her birthday was September 2. I originally started writing this post that day. But then I couldn't find a picture of her in electronic format to go with it and LightHusband was out of town and his scanner wasn't hooked back up from our vacation, and ... there were too many hurdles. So I let it sit and see if I were going to post it. If she were still alive, she would have turned 104.

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to our church's annual cookout to celebrate it's birthday (or is it an anniversary for a church?). It turned 4. I did some checking. And it's funny to me that I now go to a church that started it's formal meetings on the very day that my Grammy Charlotte would have turned 100. You see, for my whole growing up, she was my "God" connection. I know my other grandparents went to church, but she was the one who really had it. It was her older brother who sent me "Guideposts" for years, which is a really good, evangelical thing to do. But she did the loving, Jesus-y things always and I didn't recognize them til it was too late and most of her mind was gone.

For I was brought up in an atheist/agnostic home. God was dead there. The only people who needed God were people who were somehow weak. Grammy needed God and she was pretty open about her relationship with him, so it was insinuated that she was a little weak minded, but we still loved her (wink wink nod nod).

She was the best. But I didn't appreciate her as much as I wish I had when I was little. She was a picture of unconditional love. A small picture of how I think God must love us. She didn't care about what I looked like, or how I acted, or anything ... of all my grandparents, she almost never corrected me, she just loved me. She did things like let me set her hair while she took a nap. With sponge rollers. This doesn't sound terribly sacrificial until you know that I soaked each sponge roller in a bowl of cold water and did not squeeze it out before rolling it her hair in it. So I rolled her hair with dripping wet, cold sponge rollers because I didn't know that the sponges were there because you were supposed to use them on wet hair; that they soaked up the water from wet hair. While she was taking a nap. I was nine. The next year when I went to stay with my grandparents, her doctor had put her on a diet. So she put me in charge of her diet. That is crazy. That was way too much authority to give to a bossy ten year old. I thought far too much of myself as a result of that ... but she did lose weight. I'm very good with someone else's diet. Very strict. With my own, not so much.

It's a very good thing that I had my Grammy. Without her, I'm not so sure I'd know God now. I'm not so sure I'd have been as willing to listen to Him when I needed to. I certainly would not have a real life example of how to be happy in all things (not that I'm very good at following that example ... I complain all the time). I'd just be a much worse person than I currently am, without my Grammy Charlotte. So ... as LightBoy used to say when he was learning to talk ... Hoppy Doopy, Grammy Charlotte.

01 September 2005


So far I've managed to avoid the television since we got home. I've been fairly studious about this. Especially since Katrina. In the wake of 9/11, I decided I was going to avoid television coverage of disasters, both natural and manmade. There are some wounds that you never recover from and I cannot recover from the wounds that are inflicted by television coverage of peoples' hurt. I feel it too deeply and carry it with me forever. There is only so much of that you can take with you.

But I have been hearing some radio reports about what is happening. It's terrible. I have to rant for a minute. Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to treat people like cattle? We're starting to realized that it's not even a good idea to treat cattle like that anymore, and yet it was a good idea to treat people like that??? Didn't it cross anyone's mind that in the wake of a category FIVE hurricane it was just possible that the electricity might get knocked out?? Even to the Superdome? Or the levees might fail? This was a category FIVE hurricane ... teetering on the edge of SIX, folks ... who thought of this bright idea to put all those people in the Superdome?

I'm just wondering how long we're going to continue this love affair that modern man is having with efficiency. How much longer is it going to continue that we'll think that the most efficient thing is always the best thing? When it comes to people (and even animals) the most efficient is almost always the worst when you think through all of the long term effects. It may take care of things quickly, but there is almost always a really bad unexpected backlash, that should have been anticipated, if efficiency weren't the paramount virtue being sought after.

Poetry Thursday - Rich

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers
by Adrienne Rich

Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,

Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.

They do not fear the men beneath the tree;

They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.

The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.