Monday, August 31, 2009

woman walks on the moon!

Let it be known to the world that I have just downloaded my first song, and transfered it onto my ipod. I have one song on my computer and ipod. I feel so, well, so postmodern. So with it. So GROOVY. What else is there to say?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ted Kennedy

I had the TV on today and watched the news and tributes to Ted Kennedy. Now, I can't say I know the Kennedy's like my American friends. I don't remember where I was when John F was assassinated. I do remember the despair and horror of that event, but it wasn't the same being in another country. But to put it into perspective I can guess that most of you don't remember where you were when, hmmm, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau twirled a pirouette behind Queen Elizabeth as he followed her out of the room, or where you were when Canada lost its innocence and fired a live missile during the Gulf War - (don't worry, we missed, but it was a shot heard across Canada!)

But today I watched and listened to the Kennedy funeral and memorial, which is more than some of my friends here can say, ahem. Let me comment on just a couple things.

First, I heard a lot of good theology. In fact, I heard some of the finest theology I have ever heard on TV or radio coming from news broadcasters who were describing Teddy's faith. The Roman Catholic theology of suffering, of the meaning of life, of forgiveness and redemption was, well, stunningly presented. Besides this, more than once I heard a commentator make the point that Kennedy's faith makes it possible to die well, as surely as to live well. True. I know it is true.

Secondly, there were some very fine quotes. My personal favorite was Joe Biden who, in talking about how Kennedy had made some serious mistakes in his early years pointed out that he didn't quit, but continued to grow and learn. This is his quote, "He made a lie out of his mistakes." I love that. Beautifully put.

Another was the tribute from Ted Jr. I have to admit I cried. The obvious love of a man for his dad, and a dad for his family, was something my heart rejoices to hear. I loved the story of his dad helping his succeed and believe in himself after he lost his leg.

And the victory of Kennedy's wife, Vicki, who is given credit for dramatically recharacterizing Kennedy's life... who knows how much strength a good woman can give.

The high mass was, admittedly, long. My friend Nancy Bailey had a high mass for her funeral, and it felt the same. A lot of symbolism and ritual, loaded with meaning unless you don't know the meaning. But meaningful to those for whom it is meant.

I love that this country has room for great people. I love that a family can stand together in a time of sadness. And in the richness of this long 48 hours of saying goodbye to Ted Kennedy I was able to dwell in the realities of my faith and my family - the strengths each member brings, the hope that lasts, the sureness that we also will gather during times of celebration and sadness.

So it was a good day to be almost American. I like it here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

my girls

Rachel and her surrogate girls on their first birthday. She gets all the love and Mark and Tina all the work! It is a loving thing that continues to happen across America.

This is one of the stories of our family. One of the things that makes us who we are. Stories abound. Our life is wonderfully loaded with links and kinks and people who alternate between piling on top of each other and running a stretch alone. I like it all. All of it. What works and what doesn't. The regularly occuring problems and messes just go to prove we are marvelously complicated humans.

This tangle of each other is satisfying. Tonight Big Steve is flipping between football and King of the Hill with Vincent - eating crazy bread and drinking iced tea. It is easy to be 'us' tonight.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

love on Juniper Drive

I wouldn't have noticed them except they hang around so long I start paying attention. Water jug in hand, I am waiting to venture onto the front lawn to water my pants, er plants, because I am scantily clad and adults are loitering in my space. Not "myspace" but MY space! My front sidewalk/lawn. My private space.

But on second look ... these are pseudo adults. Possibly 13? Two girls, two boys, and a kid. A kid sister following on a pink bike, a kid sister they are clearly trying to get rid of. I put on a rag shirt and start pouring liquid bliss on thirsty flowers. I don't care if kids see me.

Kid, speeding up on bicycle. "I said HI to gramma!!"
Girl one. "Go say HI to her again."
Girl two. "Go get us a can of coke."
Kid. "No"
Boy with deep voice and pimply skin. "Go! Go! Go away!"
Girl one. "Just go get us cokes. We are thirsty. Then you can stay."
Boy two, neater, less aggressive. "Go say HI to gramma again.She misses you."

The kid leaves and the sexual tension spins palpably into the air. Minutes, hours! of standing near each other, posturing, saying nothing and everything, breathing each others sweat.

Then the four kids decide to play hide and seek in the creek. One little couple who isn't a couple goes in to hide ...and the other little couple who are much more a unit go to seek. I don't see them come out.

So here is a very very homely boy, ungracious and red faced, spinning a mesmerizing spell over a girl with long swingy hair, budding breasts and oozing self consciousness. What on earth can the attraction be? But I know the attraction. This is an enactment of one of the most powerful forces within a human life. We preach choices to our kids but in this moment all preaching is gone. Hormones are leading the dance.

In our culture this is part of the strangling contortion of growing up. Before this is childhood imagination, after is real life, hopefully with some good possibilities. But right now - this is a vortex that takes a life and turns it inside out.

Since the kids have been loitering on my front lawn and in our stream I have noticed my flowers are growing more vigorously. The blooms are huge. Maybe it is a hormone treatment I could bottle and sell.

Monday, August 17, 2009

what grand beings we all are

I spent three hours of my Sunday at the Woodhill Art Festival. Wandering from display to display amazed at what becomes when the human soul is allowed to express itself. Each stall seemed to be an uncovering of an inner reality. Each one was uniquely separate, some comically bizarre and some slow and profound like an ancient poem. The other thing that amazed me was the drive to create - clearly the task whose fruit was displayed took painstaking endless effort, alone, struggling with mind and medium. Whether the artist is going to make a living at it, still she must press on in the human struggle to create. To have done so much must mean compulsion. Maybe once the thing begins it has its own demands. So it was I strolled through the miracle of art.

Then it was, for me, a long sit on an abandoned metal chair to watch the art that IS people stroll by me. Dogs galore, some well groomed, some sloppy. Kids galore, some well groomed, some sloppy. Ladies wearing church dresses and men with belts pulled a little snug. Girls drooping in elastic topped sun dresses and boys with muscles glistening, all a bit self conscious. Quirky old ladies with long sleeve shirts and big hats and Onassis sunglasses. A limping women pushing a wheelchair bound friend. Nearly all the men entering the park went first to the food vendors. Women went on to see what deals could be had. All this beauty set in some of the finest artwork I might ever see. It was, for me, a splendid Sunday.

social networking

Ben, Kari, Blaise and Flora in Indonesia.

Today I am in an all day training/ brainstorming session on social networking ...basically the practice of connecting with people, personally, on line. The day will be fun with lots to learn.

But I have to say that without social networking I would be quite lost in connecting with my kids - who are everywhere. We skype, facebook, blog, send photos, twitter... it is a good thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

on motherhood and having a self

"Motherhood, in the sense of an intense, reciprocal relationship with a particular child, or children, is one part of female process; it is not an identity for all time. The housewife in her mid-forties may jokingly say, 'I feel like someone out of a job.' But in the eyes of society, once having been mothers, what are we, if not always mothers? The process of 'letting-go'--though we are charged with blame if we do not--is an act of revolt against the grain of patriarchal culture. But it is not enough to let our children go; we need selves of our own to return to." (Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born,37)

I searched for images of mother and child, and found myself caught in a beautiful human expression of joy. Clearly our connections body to body are both prosaic and poetic.
As well, I finished 'a Mercy' by Toni Morrison. All I can say is you MUST read it. I am still so deeply moved that I can feel the story within me.

On Sunday as I drove Steve to church (his car wouldn't start) at 7:30 I listened to a news magazine article on food preparation and its significance in human development.

Kathleen Norris talks about the sacredness of food preparation and the practice of eating together. All of these things begin in me a new depth of seeing how the hands of woman and the gifts of ordinary tasks that are repeated over and over until they are seemingly invisible, are actually some of the deepest pools of sacred living.

These thoughts are a big stew in my mind. Maybe I will serve some if it to you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

view from the back seat

Driving home from church on Sunday Megan handed Steve a photo holder that had big bees on it. Her question was, "What would you say if I gave this to you for What's in the Bag?"

What's in the Bag is a silly thing Steve does in the summer - a kid is chosen to bring something in a bag, and it is brought to Steve, and after a hymn he calls the kids together and tells a story using what's in the bag.

Well, he starts in. He says, "you know ... if God had this on his dresser"... and I know he is going to say the cheesy thing - he would have YOUR picture in it. So I decided to play devil's advocate.

"HE DOESN'T HAVE A DRESSER~!" Steve, pauses, "If God had a wallet in his pants..."


And Meg pipes up, "No and he doesn't have PANTS! He wears that robe thingy!"


Monday, August 10, 2009

on universal health care

Last night three girls in wet swim suits put on rubber gloves, and performed delicate surgery on a mid sized zucchini with heart disease. They carefully cut into his chest, exposed his heart cavity, removed the diseased heart and replaced it with a perfectly formed strawberry. Then they replaced the outer chunk of skin, and wrapped white cloth strips around the wound. You could hardly see any scar.

Last I saw the patient he was on his way to North Carolina to recuperate. The surgery was photographed and when it is transferred to my computer I'll post it with this account.

The following surgery on a tomato was less successful.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

tis herself

One of the most risky things I do is write this silly blog. I am trying to write without a sense of consequence - that is, I am writing it for ME, not for what a reader might think. This is a great challenge. I want to tell the truth. I admit I privately censor my own thoughts... all the while kind of resenting that I feel the need to do that.

So this blog is about me, as all my blogs are. (Kind of hedonistic, isn't it?) But the reality is that the closer I get to me, the nearer I am to you. Think about it. Relating persona to persona creates loneliness. Relating person to person mysteriously connects all kinds of links and synapses that make us know our own human journey more accurately.

I have three things I need to write about. It will take three blogs, and some thinking. I was going to comment on J.Carter, but I am too far past to make comment. My mind has wandered to another field.

This blog is connected to my 'faith thinking' - and those who read this who do not think in that way will have to put up with it for a bit. My premise in this blog is that a woman thinks different than a man. And yet, for reasons not fully known, we mostly hear the scriptures interpreted through a man's mind and experience.

I am reading "a Mercy" by Toni Morrison. This book is beautiful - it is carrying me like a tube down a river, floating through a soul. Toni Morrison is an African American novelist, quite different in experience from my, but she tells life so accurately I find myself. This small section took my breath away with its truth. I had to stop reading.

The person reflecting in this section is a sick woman who has been given comfort from friends.

"They had come to soothe her but ... were only interested in themselves. Yet the stories they told, their comments, offered Rebekka the distraction of other people's lives. Well, she thought, that was the true value of Job's comforters. He lay wracked with pain and in moral despair; they told him about themselves, and when he felt even worse, he got an answer from God saying, Who on earth do you think you are? Question me? Let me give you a hint of who I am and what I know. For a moment Job must have longed for the self-interested musings of humans as vulnerable and misguided as he was. but a peek into Divine knowledge was less important than gaining, at the last, the Lord's attention. Which, Rebekka concluded, was all Job ever wanted. Not proof of His existence - he never questioned that. Nor proof of His power - everyone accepted that. He wanted simply to catch His eye, to be recognized not as worthy or worthless, but to be noticed as a life-form by the One who made and unmade it.

But then Job was a man. Invisibility was intolerable for men. What complaint would a female Job dare to put forth? And if, having done so, and He deigned to remind her of how weak and ignorant she was, where was the news in that? What shocked Job into humility and renewed fidelity was the message a female Job would have known and heard every moment of her life."

Okay - I can't resist a small comment. Richard Rohr does marvelous work on the spiritual development of men and women, and he makes this very point. That a man, from birth, needs and often has, a journey of ascent. A woman, however, has a journey of descent. Only later in life does the wise man begin to descend, and the woman to rise.

And to be fully disclosed, the scripture must be contemplated from both male and female souls.

This is not to even begin to unpack the deep meaning in the passage. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

22 for Dinner - I think that is an event

Tonight I am accidentally having 22 for dinner. No, make that 23 because I just invited a student who is an amateur photographer to come and take photos of the event. I think 23 for dinner qualifies as an event. And a dog. I forgot the dog. And of course, our very own Walter the cat who has been hiding in the closet since the family with the dog came to stay.

We are having wieners. Not wieners exclusively. But mostly wieners. Varieties of wieners. A big fire. Some bent hangers and a watermelon. Not only a watermelon. A watermelon alongside some other sides. And hamburgers. But not only hamburgers. Just enough hamburgers for those who are too good for wieners.

I'll let you know how it goes. In a case like this I think the most important thing to do is to release control... just nudge the evening a little bit and watch it roll downhill. And hire a house cleaner tomorrow. A house cleaner named Big Steve is what I can afford. 'sall good!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Use for CoolAid

In-Style Magazine, Makeover Edition - hot tips for fall.

Try this for hair that has gone too brassy. Use a small amount of grape coolaid powder mixed into a few tablespoons of your shampoo - use as usual. The purple blue cancels out the brassy yellow/orange.

(I just killed a spider on the front of Steve's computer screen... I think I'll leave it there to surprise him!)

Pimples or red skin around nose? Spray with nasal decongestant to decrease the color in a flash.

Skin looking sallow? Soak a facecloth in soy milk and let it rest on your face for ten minutes. Soy contains phytoestrogen (possibly men shouldn't do this or they might grow breasts, not that they wouldn't anyway) which is a skin brightener.

And last but not least...if your face tends to be oily, splash your face with cooled black tea and do not rinse. The tea is a natural astringent.

And one more, just from me. To wake up tired eyes? Hit the 'off' button on your alarm clock and get two more hours sleep.

... gotta say, that nose picture turned out pretty big and awful looking didn't it!

What's a Girl to Do?

I've found a new author - Judith Merkle Riley - who writes intelligent historical novels. These are the kind of novels I read even when I am walking around - head down. The kind of stories that make me sad when they end. The latest is "The Water Devil."The heroine in this story is Margaret of Ashbury, wife of Lord Gilbert and mother of three. Near the end of the book she writes about herself as not a 'real lady', for she 'sees' the water lady as a person, not a devil. (long story - you have to read it to understand fully) But listen to this.

"Madame Agathe really is a true lady, I thought. She sees the pond-thing as a devil. Only the uncouth, the untutored, the wild things see the water woman as she is. Maybe some day even the children won't see her anymore. And me, I must be made wrong, for I sat with her, all finny-wet and slippery, and we made discourse, even if it was only in a dream. Lord, Lord, why didn't you make me a complete spotless lady, too? Then i would see things aright, the way they're supposed to be. And while you were doing it, great Lord of the Universe, you could have given me golden hair as well [insert: made me willowy as well], which would have been ever so much more admirable. But God, who is often enigmatic, didn't choose to answer this time, either."

I read this paragraph, laughed, plopped the book into my lap and said to myself, "I feel exactly the same way!!!" Now, please know that I fully understand the paradoxical nature of this writing - simply beautiful in its complexity. But I too, wonder why I've seen things differently all my life. I even TRY to see them the way I am SUPPOSED to, but to no effect. I am mainly talking about the Christian faith, but other things too.

Let me illustrate. When I was about the tender age of eight, Wednesday night was Pioneer Girls club followed by prayer meeting. We always went. Six kids, mom and dad. My mom would work in the library during club time and then together we joined the meeting time. One night only my mom and I were there, for some forgotten reason. And another thing, mom had forgotten to bring her hat, required attire for sitting in the service.

After Pioneer Clubs we met in the lobby and she mentioned that she didn't have a hat, and I poo-pooed it ... saying, "Oh just come on in. You're okay." Already I could convince a person against their best wisdom. Mom sat three benches behind me and I plunked myself down with friends.

Well, wouldn't you know it - the sermon was on the passage of scripture that clearly says women should have heads covered in service. I found the whole thing terribly funny. As the sermon began I turned around to see mom turning beet red. Being the only woman there without a hat was a little awkward, I knew. So I kept turning to smile at her, as tears poured down her face.

Mom and I left quickly - as you can imagine, and once we got in the car I regaled her with a mock sermon, mimicking the preacher man, berating women for not wearing hats. Mom laughed so hard she almost drove off the road.

Thirty two years later (I am not exaggerating here although I am very capable of exaggerating) mom and I were in a Swiss Chalet in Hamilton Ontario and we met that preacher, whom we both knew. After saying hello, he stuttered a bit and then apologized to my mom about what he called, "The Hat Incident." Thirty two years later it bothered him enough to bring it up.

We laughed again after he left. It was our only defense.

Now, a hat can be done well. It can be fun! (Note my darling Zoe in the photo.) But the point is. I live in a community that has a way of seeing things, a way that seems to be universally accepted ... and when I cannot see them quite that way I sometimes feel wrong or ill fitting. But maybe I am just made different. Maybe I just didn't grow up. This book helped me smile at my own difference. I claim my child-ness! I recommend it. (Child-ness AND the book!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another week. I have the deep satisfaction of having finished my garden project. What made it even more fun was having Steve join in and help. In the end an environment of peace was created. In our crazy world, peace is a rare gift.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

on kids and hating and days like that

So ... interesting responses on my blog last week... here's what I think. First, I laughed when I wrote it. The kid who is singing is laughing with her dad ... and I can just see them falling into each other's arm when they are done ...laughing their heads off. It is love really. Ironically.

And for me ... it just felt fun to post that. I don't hate. But I got a ticket and I kinda hated that cop. He smiled the whole time. Hate hate! And I stubbed my foot and definately hated that chair. HATE HATE!
Truth be told, it wasn't even a bad day. Just a turtle on the fence post kind of day. It was a day I laughed a lot even though I felt stuck. And everything went wrong in a kind of orderly consecutiveness. Except that when I went home I went home to the very best place in all the world for me, to the very best person I love to be with, and to my garden and some iced tea and Walter, the cat.

But dang it felt good just to be a hater for one day! And today I am back to my profoundly compassionate, ever merciful, deeply caring self. hmmmph