Gifts

A scarf from Paris

Happy Birthday to me!  I usually love what I get and fret a lot over what I give because it never seems like enough or like it’s personal enough or fun enough or clever enough.  Some of my favorite gifts of all time were things I never expected in this life or the next.  Here’s a short list:

  • A homemade sock dog
  • A Russian made linen bag
  • A sagebrush ‘Christmas tree’ decorated with a red chile garland
  • A tambourine
  • A raw sheep skin
  • A paper weight
  • A handmade kick spindle
  • A container full of gift wrap and ribbon and cards and tape
  • Steak knives and placemats and Eiffel Tower note paper
  • Eiffel tower notecards (see a theme?)
  • A spinning wheel
  • A hand written, historical story

See what I mean?  So, help me out, here.  Let’s talk about gifts and gift-giving and traditions (or lack of them) and what some of your favorite gifts were and why. 

And thank you!

P.S. To those of you who worry about such things….it’s a broken pencil….

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Walls

Walls.  Keep heat in.  Keep wind and snow and heat and rain out.  Make a place for windows and doors.  Hold up roofs.  Make fences.  Create a backdrop for pictures, bulletin boards, mirrors, random stuff like baskets and dolls and bows.   Display fantasies.

You can attach things to them like spice racks and gun racks and medicine chests.  You can lean things against them like ladders.  You can paint them different colors and add different textures and make them look like something they’re not with a mural or grafitti.   You can decorate them with ideas.

Some are in houses.  Some are in skyscrapers.  Some are around individual properties.  Some are relics of a former building.   Some are in my head.

Walls can be made from wood or wood and sheetrock and insulation and siding or strawbales or mud or brick or concrete and steel or leather or polypropolene ….or thoughts…..or words.

I built a wall.  At first, it was in my mind.   Then, it began to affect my behavior.  It couldn’t be touched or seen with the naked eye, but it quickly became tangible when it involved averting the eyes, waiting to go out the front door until the neighbor was inside, refusing to make any overtures or thanks for what I considered annoying solicitude.  It became an obsession, my wall, to watch my neighbor’s house and wonder if they were watching me.  And the sign on my outer wall said, “No Trespassing.”

Then my neighbors moved away.  There was no one to watch.  No one put our trash out when we were gone.  No one cleaned up our yard when we didn’t have time.    No one told us when there had been a robbery or when the water was brown.   No one sent over chicken curry balls. 

I no longer needed my wall.  I knocked it down.  I went outside without looking to see if I’d have to visit.  I picked up my own branches and swept my own driveway.  And I sighed for what I’d lost because of that wall.  There  might have been paradise on the other side.  There were certainly guardian angels.  Now there’s just a vacant set of blue walls with peeling paint and unblinking eyes. 

My wall had locked doors.  No welcome mat.  Like a wall in a prison.  Now I am bereft of neighbors more generous than I. 

Lord, I won’t learn from this unless you do it.  Please do it.  Be the Door in my wall.  Let me be the door keeper in Your house.

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Logos Adieu

I walked out the front door of Logos School for the last time, yesterday.  As a secretary, that is.  Feels like stepping off a twenty foot cliff. 

I see another cliff on the horizon. Intuition tells me that the next one will be 100 feet, but this one feels high enough.

What a rare and blessed privilege has been mine to work among these teachers, chidren, administrators, support staff and families.  As I leave, the annual teacher training is occuring:  people coming from all over the country (and in some years, around the world) to learn to implement the classical Christian education model.  These people will meet “my” people and take away valuable information and fond memories.

As a privileged insider, I’m taking something so deep that I don’t know if I can put it into words.  Superficially, these look like godly Christian people.  And that’s correct.   Like saying stars twinkle.

Like only seeing the surface of the moon through a telescope.

I’m taking the fearful prospect of a recurrence of cancer.  I’m taking the grief of  losing a mother suddenly.  I’m taking the giddiness of learning of a pregnancy and the sadness of a miscarriage.  I’m taking the grievous expulsion for blatant disobedience and the lovliness of diligent scholarship attended by godliness. 

 I’m taking the daily observation of three and four generations of Christians, working with and for each other.  I’m taking the juniors’ and seniors’ brotherly interaction with the first and second graders–I’m taking a family, learning together and caring for one another. 

I’m taking mental portraits of highly qualified teachers who come back year after year after year–who could have far more lucrative positions if they taught publicly.  I’m taking the fear and grief of a sixth grade boy waiting outside the principal’s office……and emerging twenty minutes later, face shining with tears and a new resolve to do better.   I’m taking mothers planning their daughters’ weddings, sending their sons off to the military, wondering if this child will get a job or this will finish school or that will return from the brink.

I’m taking snakes and frogs and rocks and crayon pictures with hearts and princesses.  I’m taking broken arms and inhalers and epipens and tums and band aids with smiley faces.  I’m taking bake sales and plays and speeches.  I’m taking lacrosse games in bitter spring afternoons, slam dunks in the field house, perfect volleyball assists.  I’m taking Mock Trial and a personal letter from Judge Clarence Thomas. 

I’m taking tears and anxiety and pride and raucous laughter.  I’m taking love.  Lots and lots of love.

Above all, I’m taking each individual’s humble, gracious, fun-loving, God-fearing response to every actual life event.   I’m taking the fervent prayers.  This is beautiful beyond description.

And it was all there for me to mine day by day.  Now, by God’s mercy, I’ll also be growing like them, watered and nurtured by all I’m privileged to take away.

Thank you, Logos.  God’s continued blessings, always.

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I Brake for……No One

This is our street.  The street where we live.  It’s very steep.  This is not an optical illusion.                                                                                                 

This is my husband.  He loves to ride his bike.  Yesterday, he rode 45 miles to a car show.  I met him there…..with the truck….

 

We have pretty rough winters, here, so we don’t ride for months and months, and when the days finally started getting pretty, he got out his favorite two-wheeled transportation……and the tire was flat.  Really flat.  He had to patch it….which didn’t work.  Then he had to break down and buy an inner tube….which did.

Last Sunday, the weather was exquisite and we were invited out to our good friends’ for a light evening meal.  Because they live in the country 20 miles away, my Sweetheart , who’d been aching to ride, decided to make this his maiden 2010 voyage.

Over here, on the far right side,  about the middle of the grey house, is where he realized he’d forgotten to hook up his brakes after he’d installed the new inner tube.  There are still marks on the road where his left shoe cleat that hooks into the toe clip was dragging along the pavement, sending a July 4th style shower of sparks to the amazement and possibly horror of passersby.  That slowed him to hyper-space. 

Just beyond that and to the right, after the tree, is a triplex with a fairly steep driveway and lawn.  Straight ahead of him was first a stop sign and a busy street, then a street light and an even more busy street.  He opted for the lawn.

This slowed him down from rocket blast to careening, which didn’t seem adequate to him at the time.   So he made a quick decision–and an even quicker left turn, hopped off the curb and blazed across the street to an even steeper driveway, where his progress finally came to an uneventful halt.

He breathed heavily for the space of about three minutes, thanked God and attached his brakes.  He also arrived safely and in time for hors d’oeurves.

 

 

I try not to panic whenever I think of it.  I try not to think of it at all, actually.  But there’s no one in the world I’d rather be with in an emergency.  Not even Jack Bauer.

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Not all who wander are lost

To all and sundry, for whom this might be a welcome announcement:           

 We’re moving home.  Probably August.  Details to follow in the evening news.

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Bekinspired

I love farmer’s markets!  Who doesn’t?  And a farmer’s market on a sunny day after months of drizzly, grey skies…..well!

Now, here’s my farmer’s market tale for this lovely day:   Ten years ago, when my son was first married, he and his lovely wife, Beka, owned a used book store.  They even lived in the back of it and–amazing us all!–birthed their first child there!  It’s the romantic sort of story of which pulitzer prize winning novels are made.  The men would gather on weekend evenings to drink wine, smoke good cigars and talk about……books.  Joe Brandybuck would smile and sleep and eat and grow strong.

And Bek would make cookies!   She made wonderful chocolate chip cookies that soon became the highlight of the store.  The cookies had a perpetual, devoted clientele–and Beka had a little pocket money of her own.

Fast forward to 2010.  A family who’ve read Beka’s family’s magazine for years is suddenly inspired.  How can the young girls learn about money:  planning, earning, saving, tithing, paying bills, buying materials and preparing a product?  She remembers the very article where Beka describes her entrepreneurial experiment, reads it to her girls again and gets out the chocolate chips and flour! 

The girls bake, package, make signs and rent a space at the local farmer’s market.    They choose a patriotic theme, fill the change box, set out generous samples and…..

            Voila!

This one’s for you, sweet Bek!

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Holy Spirit Markets are Kind of Like Costco

Holy Spirit Markets are Kind of Like Costco                                                             

So let us begin this brief economic primer with these inspirational words from Dave Barry:

“The question is: What can we, as citizens, do to reform our tax system? As you know, under our three-branch system of government, the tax laws are created by Satan. But he works through the Congress, so that’s where we must focus our efforts.”

When it comes to Congress and out of control spending, we don’t need an election so much as we need an intervention. And when we get that intervention, we can count on a great deal of bluster and anger from those who occupy the cushy slots of the Republic. They just don’t want to be sat down and told to knock it off already with the fiscal insanity.

But because this is about power, not money, they just keep going with the grasping. Milton’s Satan would rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven, and the same kind of tiny hearts are performing the same sort of priority calculus now. This kind of character would rather be a dear leader commandante in a banana republic than a well-off nobody in a prosperous nation who had to be content with minding his own business. Bossing around a bunch of miserable serfs is far to be preferred to letting them just go off . . . and do things on their own without permission. Managed misery is better, they stoutly maintain, than unmanaged happiness. And so the graspers are doing their level best to get their fingerprints on everything, regardless of whether it makes any sense or not. Watching the evening news out of Washington night after night leaves the intelligent observer agape. Lily Tomlin put it well. “No matter how cynical you get, you can never keep up.”

But after a while, you begin to wonder if it is you. Maybe water does flow uphill. Maybe we can spend ourselves rich, and why didn’t mankind discover this sooner?

So let’s review some basics. Getting soaked is a disincentive for whatever it was that you were doing that got you soaked. What is the economic difference between a tax and a fine? Make that a tax debt of 10K and a fine of 10K. The fine is a tax for having done something wrong, and the tax is a fine for having done something right, but apart from that, what is economic difference? When it comes to incentives and disincentives, there isn’t one. If you fine somebody 10K for a safety infraction at the factory, it is because you want them to stop it with the safety infractions. If you tax that same factory 10K for making a profit, what is you want them to stop now? And why do all our smart johnnies with fifty pound heads feign surprise and astonishment when that starts to happen?

Ronald Reagan saw it right. Despite the handwaving chutzpah, the governmental mindset remains simplistic — “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Given that the elementary economic principles here are something that you should be able to explain to a fifth grader, we also need to remember our biblical basics. Refusal to see these things, and the corresponding refusal to act on them, does not indicate an intelligence problem. It is a spiritual problem. Free markets cannot be owned and operated by slaves. If we have a nation dedicated to the service of false gods, and we do, it is neither possible nor desirable for us to have economic liberty.

Free markets are Holy Spirit markets. They are kind of like CostCo. You can’t shop there unless you are a member. If a nation wants to be free of economic lunacy, then it will not be enough to read Hazlitt, Bastiat, or Smith. If a nation doesn’t want economic chains, the text to read would be John 3. Ye must be born again.

Douglas Wilson – April 23, 2010

http://www.dougwils.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7584:holy-spirit-markets-are-kind-of-like-costco&catid=129:obama-nation-building

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Police Blotter

Thursday 8:37am — A lamppost was smoking on Spring Street.

                     9:55am — Many glass panes in the green house complex were broken by golf balls.  Police investigation continues.

                     6:24pm — An officer transported a dog to the shelter that was tangled in some wire and stuck under a house on West Palouse River Drive.

                     7:21 — Officers responded to a report that two children were taking money out of the fountain in Friendship Square on South Main Street.

     It’s hard enough when children engage in criminal activity, but add lampposts and animal shelters…..   Hard times.

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Encouraging the Daniels

Rob McKenna, attorney general for Washington state, has walked into the lion’s den (last blog entry).  He’s being bullied and threatened by his own governor for doing the right thing.  If you’d like to write and encourage him, here’s one place you can make your thoughts known:

http://thurstonrepublicans.com/news/chairmans-corner/137-support-rob-mckenna.html 

Some in this representative government actually do still represent us.   Rob McKenna is one of them.

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You Decide

Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna said Monday that he will join a number of states, including Idaho, in challenging the constitutionality of a health care overhaul bill passed by Congress. 

The announcement by McKenna, a Republican, angered Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire, who said McKenna did not consult with her, House Speaker Frank Chopp or Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, all Democrats, before making his decision.

“I don’t know who he represents,” she said.  “He doesn’t represent me.”

…..Gregoire said she didn’t learn about McKenna’s intentions until Monday morning, when she read an article that listed him among attorneys general who planned to sue.  She said she called McKenna immediately to ask if it was true.

Gregoire said she told him “then get ready to represent me, because I will legally oppose what you’re doing.”

Question:  Who actually represents the people of the United States?

(Excerpts from an AP article by Rachel La Corte – 3/23)

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Police Blotter

Friday

3:55pm – Someone was throwing rocks onto Larry Street.

Saturday

2:23am – Police received a report that children were breaking toilets in an alley on South Main Street.

6:04am – A half of a bottle of vodka was stolen from a Spaulding Street residence.

11:29am – Bikes were damaged Friday night in LaCrosse.

5:52pm – A school bus heading north on U.S. Route 195 was billowing smoke.

Sunday

3:17pm – Officers responded to a woman’s report that her sister kicked her car on South Cleveland Street.

7:17pm – The Bovill Fire Department extinguished a vehicle that caught fire in a barn on Moose Creek Road in Bovill.

No names have been changed to protect anyone.

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Bore Wish?

So I put the drop spindle away for now and got out my Majacraft Suzi spinning wheel.  I love how it looks and I love the quiet whirr when I spin.  Thank you again, Mom and Dad! 

This is my first try at plying yarn and it worked amazingly well, for a complete spinning neophyte….which is another word for doofus, in my case.

And now here’s the spinner!

Now, the next picture is of a…..um…..a niddier?  A noddier?  A niddy-noddiest?  Um, I’m skeining the plyed yarn on this pvc Star Wars thing.  (People in the know seem to call it a niddy noddy.  Why?  Niddy Noddy.  Niddy Noddy.  Niddy Noddy.)

It’s the perfect measurement so that every “round” is a yard.  Then, when I finish, I count the strands–and know how much yarn I’ve spun.  People have been using these things for absolutely ever, but to me they’re all competely new and exciting…………..obviously.

Have a bore wish, yet?  Good, I’ll write again.

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Company’s coming

I love to set the table.  I love to look at other people’s tables when we go out.  I love to look at table settings in magazines.   I love going to restaurants that have real tables.  I get ideas.  I save them in some drawer in my brain called “Company’s Coming”. 

Well, maybe you do, too.  If you don’t, skip this entry.  We’re having company tonight:  Kinshu and Chen Chen Wei, to whom my husband sold a home recently.  They’re Chinese, as their names imply, and their uber-educated twenty-somethings who are also a lot of fun, as I’ve been informed.  I’m looking forward to it!  I wish you could all come, too–and you could all meet each other! 

Well, meantime, I’ve set the table.  Mom always sets a lovely table–and she sets it ahead of time, to have it out of the way.  She’s so smart and so classy and I’ve always wanted to be just like her!  So, I’ve set my table, and even though you can’t come, I want you to see it and let you know I could set a lot more places in a hurry!!

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me so much about gracious hosting and love of home.  Yours is my absolute favorite place to “come home” to.  I want mine to always be as warm and inviting as yours–even if I have to lie down behind the sofa and play dead, sometimes!

You’re all welcome!

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OC on Wool Manipulation

Dye anywhere along the route!  These are pretty funky, but their enthusiasm and imperfections intrigue and inspire me!

http://suzannemcminn.com/blog/2009/05/22/how-to-wash-and-dye-wool/

http://lisascraftroom.blogspot.com/2009/05/spinning-dyeing-and-raw-wool.html

One day, sheep to sweater!

And I thought it had to be done a certain way…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtxymUf2T38 

Now I want a raw fleece, a drum carder and another week off!

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Fruit

I’m just so worried that there will only be two apples on the tree and one will be rotten. 

http://www.feminagirls.com/2009/09/29/heavy-branches/ 

“Fear not, little flock.  It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!”

Well, here’s the latest fruit–

 

 

 

 

and it’s ripe for picking!

 

       That spindle is just so pretty, isn’t it.  The wool is it’s perfect complement!

And here’s the “processed” fruit:

 

 

 

It would be hard to understate my sheer giddiness about  this little project.

And while I was wrapping the undyed yarn around the step ladder, as usual (I’ve done it twice, you know!), the mail lady came to my door with a box!  Guess what was in it!  I’ll put a picture here and you probably still won’t know!  And, no, it’s not a Star Wars weapon….

     It’s a niddy noddy, of course.  Duh.   

     Yes, that’s really what it’s called and when you wind yarn onto it, because it’s cut to exact dimensions, it measures your yarn at the same time.  There are much more beautiful, carved wood ones, but the price was right on this one.   So, obviously, because I don’t think you have a life outside of reading this blog on this subject, I’ll be posting a picure of winding yarn on the niddy noddy.   Don’t you like saying that?

 

So hooray for today!

  Everyday is a glory day, when we put it in the hands of the Lord (thank you Ken Medema)!   And love to you all!       

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Kool-Aid becomes my friend

I wind my spun yarn on the step ladder. High tech.

I prepare to adulterate perfectly good wool with Kool-Aid.  When I opened the first one, I was instantly whisked back to Sunday School as a little girl, for some reason.  It was sweet.

Here, I’ve colored it once with four packages of Kool-Aid per my three ounces of yarn.  It’s not nearly enough, but then I still don’t know what I’m doing….  It’s getting ready to sit in the steamer for 45 minutes.  And the result:

It's OK, but not quite what I was hoping.

So, I threw three more packages in a pot, filled it with water and threw the yarn in again!  I brought it almost to a boil, turned it off and let it sit covered for a half hour–and checked the color again.  Not enough.  Ultimatley, I did this two more times, each time adding three more packages of K-A–and here’s the result, hanging outside on the wooden drying rack with all the other laundry!

Now the color is richer, but doesn’t have the varigation I kind of liked.  Some how I’ll manage.  But one thing I realized is what a perfectionist I am and how afraid I was of not getting it just right!  I almost didn’t dye it at all for fear of ruining it.  What a freak.

  OK.  This is the story for now.  Jack Bauer could have done this, but he wouldn’t have admitted it.

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First Aid

Trude teaches Brit Lit at the school where I check attendance and distribute bandaids.  When we replaced all our first aid kits, Trude looked in one and asked with grave wonder, “What good is a first aid kit without chocolate?”

So yesterday I was feeling sorry for myself, as usual.  There was a cloud in the sky and the temperature was 56, not 57.   One of the dozen sweaters I tried on at Goodwill didn’t fit and a drop of diesel fell on the ground when I was refueling at Tesoro.  I know my reader can quickly empathize with my sad state, or at least feel some sympathy for a truly pathetic person.

Well, my reader must have been Kate the Great and she must have read my future mind back at Christmas!  As I was wandering around the old homestead, kicking stones, I decided to go out and check the mail–and almost tripped over a box right beside the door.  I considered plunging it into a bathtub full of water because I’ve been watching WAY too much 24, Chuck and White Collar.  Instead, I gingerly cut the tape with a semi-sharp knife–it did have my daughter as the return addressee…–and was instantly rewarded for my good decision!

Chocolate!  All sorts of CHOCOLATE!  All kinds of Polish and French and German chocolate!  Chocolate with liqueurs!  Chocolate with orange and chiles!  Chocolate with pralines!  Chocolate with Barberry (whatever that is…)  Chocolate with Kris Kringle beaming on the front!  Chocolate with a gold Polish Eagle!  Slupsk chocolate!  Milk Chocolate!  Dark Chocolate!  Chocolate in pretty boxes!  Chocolate in paper cups!  Chocolate in a Maxim’s tin, forsooth! 

  She even included the bags!!

And I had the delicious knowledge that they had been bought in Poland, in Berlin and in Paris!  Oooh-la-la! 

So, of course, I lined it all up and took pictures of it.  What would Jack Bauer have done?  What would Niles Crane have done?  They’re just beautiful and mouth-watering, and I haven’t done them justice, but THIS (THIS!) is how a first aid kit should look!

You rock, Katie!  You completely improved my otherwise rotten day!  I’m wondering now, though, if I should have eaten them all at once at the end of the photo shoot.

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Credit

Credit is a system whereby a person who cannot pay gets another person who cannot pay to guarantee that he can pay.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

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The stage

I’m privileged to work for a classical, Christian school.  What I’d really like to do, though, is attend.

OK.  I’m one of those people who start snorting and pawing the ground when I smell wood shavings and graphite from a pencil sharpener or open a new box of crayons.   The smooth newsprint with alternating broken and unbroken blue lines revealed brave new worlds for me in first grade.

  Unlike my poor husband, who actually began counting the years remaining in his compulsory schooling when he was only eight, I was ecstatic when, in fourth grade, I got two antique school desks and a chalkboard for my birthday.  I’ve always loved the idea of “school”.

And now I work for the one I wish I’d attended!  There are so many things I could say about it, but I’d like to focus on one for this post:  the stage.

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Logos (my school) has always had a small auditorium with a stage.  Then, eleven years ago, they built a fieldhouse for worship services, and sporting and community events.  It has a gym floor and bleachers–and a stage! 

The stage is focal for Logos.  One of the most important things students do in the context of a classical education is learn to communicate what they know and believe. 

From  Kindergarten through sixth grade, they must be in class plays.  All the students participate.  They learn to take instruction, to speak loudly and enunciate, to memorize lines, to emote and to appear with poise before an audience.   Of course, they also get to wear costumes and use props, which makes it even more fun!   This all takes place on the auditorium stage.

In additon, every elementary and junior high child must participate in the speech meet, memorizing either a Bible passage, a poem or fable or a literary oration.  These are honed and presented before a panel of judges and an audience.  The children who go on to the interschool speech meet present their selections on the auditorium stage.

When the students enter high school at ninth grade, they graduate to rhetoric classes–mandatory for every high school year.  They may choose their own topic, subject to approval by their teachers.  Then the research and rehearsing begins.  Ultimately, they present their arguments publicly and their resulting grades aid in honing their skills.  The goal is still the same:  to be able to communicate what one knows and believes with poise before an audience of two or twenty or two thousand, whether peers or strangers.   In short:  to be comfortable on stage.

The high schoolers also graduate from the speech meet format to a national scholarship program called Poetry Out Loud.  I wish you could hear the finalists as they perform on the auditorium stage!  You’d be amazed at how moving and lively poetry can be! http://poetryoutloud.org/

Of course, there are both the junior high drama and the varsity play to enliven the school year.  This year, we were treated to Nicholas Nickleby by the varsity players–and it was a major production!   The junior high play is in it’s final rehearsals as I write.

The stage also gives us a glimpse of Mock Trial, a national competition for high schoolers with a bent toward law.  They’re given a case and have to produce lawyers, witnesses and defendant–and are judged by actual judges.  Logos regularly goes to the state and national competitions. Maggie Church who graduated last year, was the first student to receive a unanimous commendation from the judges and a personal letter from Judge Clarence Thomas.  http://www.nationalmocktrial.org/

We’re all on stage throughout life, though our audiences vary continually.  Classical education accepts that as a given and capitalizes on it by preparing future adults to communicate clearly,  with purpose and poise, whether it’s relating a recipe for London broil, leading a military strike force or telling the eternal gospel.  

In my ten year observation of students of classical, Christian education, “the stage” (and all that it implies) is a powerful tool in the  preparation for speaking the truth in love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ObBhU7XT-U

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Jazz

We went to the jazz festival for the first time this year.   Why?  We’re   Boccherini, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Dvorak types.  Well, what if we left this place and never went to something so iconic?  We’d be losers.  We knew it.  “You lived there and never went to the Jazz Festival???!!!!  Fie on you!  For shame!”  I guess we’re pathetic that way.

The Lional Hampton Jazz Festival takes place at the University of Idaho every year in February and draws jazz greats from around the US and the world.   It consists of four nights of concerts and days full of mini-concerts, local competitions and clinics.  In other words, it’s a pretty big deal.                       http://www.uidaho.edu/jazzfest

So, why hadn’t we ever attended?  Like I said, we’re classical people.    The last time I knew a jazz name was Dave Brubek and that was because a boy who lived down the street from me in 7th grade talked about him a lot.  Another boy I knew in the same neighborhood collected German WWII memorabilia.  And my room was painted a fairly bright lavender in our Hansel and Gretel-style rental house.  All these things seem to hold hands in my memory–but only barely add to my knowledge of jazz.

We went anyway.  And, not to make a long song and dance out of it, were blown away by Dee Daniels.  We wouldn’t buy her cd’s because we still don’t much care for jazz, in general, but this woman is one of the world’s enterainers!  From the moment she came on stage–about six and a half feet of attractive black woman with a hair-do fairly remniscent of fireworks–we were captivated!  She smiled and laughed and reminisced and kibbitzed….and drew us in!  Dee Daniels is our idea of the jazz festival and made it worth the price of a ticket!  See for yourself!

http://www.deedaniels.com/video_excerpts.html

That’s it.  She’s a show woman and I’d go see her again in a minute!  And I’m relieved to say that we have indeed attended the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. 

I’m really glad this place isn’t famous for big time wrestling.

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Grieving with hope

Bill Erdwin, beloved father of my sweet sister-in-love, as she would put it, has gone home.  No, he didn’t go out and get in his car and drive across town to be reunited with his wife.  The light and life went out of his body.  A disinterested bystander would say that Bill had died. 

But that’s not what the Lord of glory said.  Bill loved the Lord of glory and that same Lord told him that to be absent from the body was to be at home with the Lord, and that He had prepared a mansion in His own house particularly for Bill.    He’s there now.

Bill knew where he was going.  He also made sure all his children and their children after them knew it, too.  He was a good father and a wise man, in that way.  He taught them all about the only true source of hope.

Will they grieve, then?  Will they be deeply saddened when they pick up the phone, thinking they’ll hear his voice?  Will they cry when they see him coming around the corner, and find it isn’t him afterall?  Will they sigh deeply when they come across a letter, see a tv show, hear a trite saying that they’d learned to love…..and are reminded once again of his absence?  Oh, yes. 

But their hope is real because their God is real.  Their hope sustains them because their God is their sustenance.  We have not a high priest who is unacquainted with our griefs, but One who in every way was tempted [and grieved] as we are…

And one day, there will be a glad reunion.  Glad, triumphal, exalted, incredible and attended with exceeding great joy!  The trumpet shall sound and the dead in Christ shall rise, incorruptible.  And those who remain will be caught up in the air with them…to be forever with the Lord!  Comfort one another with these words.

Bill isn’t dead.  He’s more alive than he’s ever been.  We just can’t see it…yet.  Let your hearts take courage and wait for the Lord.  Has He not spoken and will He not bring it to pass?  Glory to God!

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Inspiration works a small miracle!

Litsi’s sweater is done.  Now what?  I’ve got to have a project.  And I’d like it to involve either food, words or animal fiber.   And there by the perpetual Christmas tree, like an unwrapped present, stands my kick spindle…..needing dusting.  And I suddenly flash on another Christmas present!

My granddaughters (I had to look it up in the dictionary to see if it really demanded two d’s–sheesh), who are currently seven and five, gave us a potholder for Christmas:  a potholder they had made!  They didn’t use a metal loom and colored cotton loops like I did when I was a child.  No, no, no.  The elder took wool roving and a handmade drop spindle (the first one was made with old cd’s!), and spun the yarn!  It was beautifully even and amazingly free of slubs.   Then the younger dyed it the most marvelous colors.  Then the elder knit it into a little piece of rainbow perfection!

 

 

See what I mean? 

And what occurred to me was that, although I own a Majacraft spinning wheel (thanks, again, Mom and Dad!) and a kick spindle, I’ve never been very good at spinning.  I’d spun yarn for a sweater for grandchild numero uno nine years ago….and never tried it again because I somehow thought I wasn’t cut out for it.  Then I got this Christmas present.  From seven and five year olds!  Prodigious seven and five years olds, of course, but really.  I do have over fifty years on them.  I should be able to spin as well as a seven year old…..shouldn’t I?

I decided to try again.  And I decided to try by their method.  Their parents (my sweet son and his fabulous wife!) had given me a lovely handmade kick spindle on a past Christmas and I’d just been too intimidated to try it.  The time had come. 

Last week I dug out a bag of roving I’d bought years ago in Albuquerque at my favorite knitting, spinning, weaving store, Village Wools (www.villagewools.com ) and it looked like it was still ready for a PROJECT.  But I wasn’t.  I didn’t have a clue, actually.  Internet to the rescue.  I googled drop spindle spinning and got to watch actual people doing the very thing I was longing to do! 

Isn't the spindle pretty?

Well, I began and you’ll see my very first try in the next picture.  I spun lots of wool and it had all sorts of thicks and thins–just like life!  Then, I spun a second spindle full.  It had fewer thicks and thins,  like life when you begin to learn from your mistakes.  THEN, because my granddaughters can do it, I tried something else for the first time:  I plied my two odd yarns together.  I remember someone telling me when I got my first spinning wheel that I would spin lots of “novelty yarn”.  LOL!  Here it is!

"novelty yarn"

So, there you go.  No moral.  Very little philosophy.  Probably too many words about what actually happened.  But the yarn on the picture of the spindle is my third attempt and it’s almost as even and slub-free as a seven-year-old’s!   Thanks for the inspiration, girls!  Next, I’ll be buying the Kool Aid!

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Estate Sale

I went to an estate sale today.  They differ from garage and yard sales in that their venue is the owner’s home and  the sellers are people other than the owners of the merchandise.   The owners have generally moved to a retirement/elder care situation or are recently deceased, and the home is no longer occupied……at least, not at the time of the estate sale…. 

Some of the merchandise may be put on particular display, but much is left where it was in closets, cupboards, drawers, garages, even barns.  Soap is in the soap dish by the sink, shampoo is in the shower, cinnamon is in the spice rack. 

I don’t think of myself as a sleuth, but as I go through the various items that meant something to someone at sometime, I find myself trying to discover the person behind the manual type-writer, the books written in French, the  canvas rucksack packed with all the essentials:  fishing line, sterile dressing, extra socks, toilet paper in a baggy.  Where were the women’s clothes?  Where were the pictures?  There were hints like the new baby blanket in a bag, a drawer of linen napkins and tablecloths, a box of tired Christmas ornaments, some Hummels.  But the closets were sparsely populated with serviceable jackets and sweaters, and the feminine touch was a distant aroma, more of a memory than than anything else. 

The cramped and elderly  two story house was crowded with things that only the owner could have understood or wanted.  It was also crowded with people, hoping for the ‘find’.  One after another picked through every frame in a box, every family album on a shelf, every shirt  in every closet, every whisk or spatula or in every drawer.  And the accumulations of the owner, things with which he was unwilling to part, were quickly dispersed with no thought, no sentiment, no hope for the future. 

I could tell he must have been born in the late 20′s or early 30′s.   I think his wife must have died before he left this house–a house he probably called home for decades– and here was his frazzled son, selling his worldly goods at a moment’s notice with no prices and no help.  And here were all of we consumers, accruing things for our children to go through and dispose of down the road.  Vultures. 

At least, that’s how it felt.  I didn’t want his stuff, afterall.  I wanted him to be able to still be at home with his loving wife, having his children over for Saturday evening dinner and taking a long, peaceful nap on Sunday afternoon.  I wished he were there to put on his barn coat and go work in his garage in the late fall, knowing that on his return, the house would be filled with the smells of vegetable soup and an apple pie; the sight of his laughing wife, hair out of place and rosy cheeked.

I understood better why Jesus said that death is the final enemy.  Final is the operative word.  No more reading about tying flies.  No more sitting in the chair by the fireplace.  No more need for the phone or the cutting board or the barn coat.  No more beloved voices.

But we do not grieve as those who have no hope.  Death, afterall, is swallowed up in victory–the victory we have through our Lord Jesus Christ, who tasted death for us all.  And Christ Himself is the Door.   Death is the beginning for Christians.

This comforts me more and more, the older I get.  I feel melancholy at estate sales, but I know whom I’ve believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. 

I think I’ll go clean out a drawer.

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Police Blotter

Wednesday

 9:02am–
A male hitchhiker was arrested for having a sword in his backpack in Colfax.

9:23am–
A man reported his truck stolen at Granite Point. The truck was later located in Lewiston and the man did not want police to investigate the incident.

9:55am–                                                                                                                                       A woman who works at the Food Quality Building and records commercials about the benefits of milk reportedly received threatening e-mails about her commercials.

2:50pm–
A man was spotted walking down Northeast Stadium Way with a pistol. The man did not commit a crime.

Hercule Poirot could put these together and solve a murder in Peoria.  Miss Lemon could make new files.

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WC’s Around the World

Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth, WA

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Under His Puppet

From an editorial in The Independent, Gallup, NM (June 6, 2009):

“This wouldn’t be happening if we had a city manager who knew the law, knew his job and wasn’t under the mayor’s puppet.”

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Police Blotter

Friday

7:52am–A semi-truck reportedly knocked down a stop sign at intersection of A Street and North Line Street.

11:20–A car was reportedly driven into a ditch in Moscow.

11:25– A coyote was reportedly seen on Southeast Klemgard Avenue.

12:26–A woman reported that garbage was dumped on her car on E Street.

4:38–A coyote was reportedly seen at Krugel Park.

6:36–A coyote was reportedly seen on Southeast Sunnymead Way.

10:31–A couch was reportedly set on fire on A Street.

Saturday

6:17am–Tie-down ratchet tent straps were reported stolen on Seventh Street.

10:59–One parking sign was reported stolen and another three were damaged on Third Street.

Sunday

Pretty quiet until 11:56pm–Two men were reported running down Main Street naked.

No citations were issued.

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Birthday Shoes

birthday shoes

birthday shoes

I keep clicking them together and saying, “There’s no place like home.   There’s no place like home.”  And when I open my eyes, I’m still standing in my own living room on my own carpet.  Guess I’m home.  But I sure do miss all those munchkins in TOP (that other place).  The shoes sure LOOKED magical.  Thanks Wannie!

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Comely

             Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, for praise is comely for the upright!  Psalm 33:1

     Comely.  No longer in common use, this word nevertheless immediately conjures up the image of a woman.  A beautiful woman.  A gracious and lovely woman.  A woman with head held high–but not her nose.  A woman whose words are gracious, seasoned with salt.  A woman clothed to attract admiration, to bring honor to her body and her God.  A woman who understands authority.  A woman walking hand in hand with her husband.  A woman honoring him and respecting him and even submitting her own desires to his.  A woman setting chores for her children and laughing with them as they wash dishes together.  A woman who quietly and quickly and firmly brings her children to cheerful obedience.  A woman who raises her children as their God-given authority.  A woman whose home is warm, well-ordered, interesting and welcoming.  A woman who sets a beautiful table and fragrant meals before guests, making them feel at home in her presence.  A woman who brings aid and succor to those in need, but never to the neglect of her husband and children.  A woman who gives her anxieties to her God, and leaves them there.  A woman who reads and listens and ponders, and submits every thought to the scrutiny of the Word of God.  A woman who loves being home and ‘making’ home. 

That’s it.  Comely:  (Strong’s 5000) Beautiful, pleasant, suitable and fitting.  From a primary root (4998):     at home!

Let us Rejoice!

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berlin

berlin

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The Shot Put Incident

If it’s too early for Christmas stories, sue me.    This is my blog and this is a Christmas story.  (Heh, heh.  Got a little defensive there.  Maybe even I think it’s too early. ) (No, wait–I never think that.)

It was not our fault.  John’s sport, afterall, was shot put.  What were we to do, relegated as we were, to the upper story?  And on Christmas Eve!  Let the reader judge. 

From the time we were very young–too young to really know that we were being raised by Santa Claus–we’d rise long before dawn on Christmas morning to sights and sounds that would cause any child’s vision to dance with sugar plums!  I can’t say I remember this, but I half wonder if we weren’t roused out of sleep,  before we were old enough to ‘get it’.  There were some people in the house for whom Christmas would have lost it’s luster if it had begun in daylight.   ‘Some people’ would be our father.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa would have Christmas carols playing on the hi-fi, ‘big’ presents open in front of the tree (which was already half-hidden behind the heaps and mounds of  wrapped presents!), only the tree lights on and the smell of coffee completing the scene.  In our peripheral vision, we sensed a table heavily loaded with sweet things and savory–but we were fairly single-minded.  This scene usually included lots of frenetic motion and squealing (on my part).  For this reason, I have no idea how John handled it all.  He probably sauntered in, nodding his head approvingly and thinking to himself, “Someday, I’ll be Santa Claus and this’ll all be mine.”  I can’t say because I don’t know.  I was too busy making noise.

What I do know is that he relished the early hour as much as anyone.  I was ‘anyone’.  That made us perfect partners for childhood crime.  If we ever actually slept on Christmas Eve, I’ve also forgotten.  The year that sealed my parents’ fate as Christmas morning push-overs, John and I checked our clocks–I was in second grade so, naturally, I had a good grip on reading timepieces–and decided it was TIME.  We just walked down the hall to the folks’ room and announced that Christmas morning had arrived.  Dad-Claus also looked at his clock and told us to go back to our rooms.  He DIDN’T tell us to go back to sleep.  He never did.  He is the funnest, cheeriest guy in the world, just for your information, dear reader.  And our jolly mother is his perfect foil!  As I told you:  Mr. and Mrs. Santa.  Christmas comes when it comes.  One doesn’t  postpone the inevitable.

They rolled out of bed, started the coffee, plugged in the tree lights, turned on the music and called my aunt and uncle, who had foolishly asked to join us for the festivities.  When Aunt Patty answered the phone, she responded to the announcement, “It’s time!”, with a long silence.  When she finally mustered the strength to speak, she asked,  “Jimmy, do you have any idea what time it is?”   Hahahahaha!  Of course he didn’t!  Who can read anything, much less a clock, at 3:30 in the morning?   They came.  Christmas began at 3:45 am, that most auspicious of years.

We grew older and wiser–this does not translate to sleeping in on Christmas morning.  Duh.  It translated to having to use our wits when we were READY for Christmas.  We were probably twelve and fifteen, at the time of ‘the incident’, and our bedrooms were on the second floor.  Ordinarily, that presented no problems.  We could see the rides at Broomfield Days.  We could see the park.  We could get out on the garage roof, if we saw the necessity.  I’m guessing John may have seen the necessity.  He can set me straight later.  But it really put a crimp in our Christmas ‘style’.  We were UP.  Christmas had arrived!  How to get the news to the Claus’s….

Where our parents had made their large mistake was in only carpetting our particular rooms.  They left the hallway NAKED, and therefore subject to NOISE.  Should we jump and stomp and pound on the hall floor?  Oh, please.  Any neanderthal could do that.  We wanted something subtle.  Something smooth.  We wanted to make a statement about our combined brilliance.  So, naturally, we decided to roll John’s shot put back and forth along that perfectly unadorned hall for as long as it took.  Wouldn’t you?   What would Mozart have done?  Or Ronald Reagen?  It was the only possible road.  How else were the S. Claus’s to know? 

By the way, it didn’t take long at all.

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moab, utah

moab, utah

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Superficial reflections

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!  I feel like I just passed through a door and heard the lock on the other side.  And I’m not in Narnia.  No.  Not in Narnia.  But here’s what I’d like to say about the events of the last two days:  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah!  Oops.  More maniacal laughter.  My husband likes to read economic news letters to which he subscribes, and the words of one particularly erudite contributor keep coming to my mind:  “We’re freakin’ doomed!”  The funny thing is, I was feeling this way back when John McCain became the Republican candidate.   I have no candidate.  I have no party.  Doomed.

That was the first time it really came home.  Then we were treated to the fantastic transformation of a complete neophyte dark horse (no pun intended.  really.) in the democrat party by a tsunami of personality cult.  I haven’t seen anything like it since the advent of the Beatles.  Bowing.  Scraping.  Palm fronds….  How else did a man with so little real life experience in governing get to this place?  How else did a man who says everything with his nose in the air ever become so popular with people who have nothing? And how, by the way, did the Republican party misread their constituents so perfectly?  Their noses were in the air, too. 

Add Joe Biden, contradicting Obama on a regular basis, and Sarah Palin who could see Russia from her house, and Barnum & Bailey just never stood a chance.  Their shows paled by comparison. 

Barak Hussein Obama isn’t our doom.  McCain wouldn’t have been our doom.  No.  The empty suit church is killing the country.  The tolerant church is spreading the death knell.   The gospel of ‘everyone happy’ is digging the grave.  If the church doesn’t repent……we’re freakin’ doomed.

On the other hand,  our new president may be very instrumental in causing the church to rethink a few things…..   Nebuchadnezzar was pretty effective…..

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Police Blotter

If anyone ever wonders if they’ve moved to a small town, they have only to open to page three of the local Daily News and Planet and check out the police blotter.  Here are some of my favorites from the last week:

Thursday

12:38  Two cups of yogurt were thrown at a patrol car from Gannon Hall.

3:58  A deputy responded to a malicious mischief report on Belsby Road.  A lock was allegedly cut and cows were able to run free.

4:27  Benches were reported stolen on Elm Street.

5:20  A woman reported a group of teenagers ripped apart a teddy bear and left the stuffing lying around on East D Street.

Friday

11:54  Men seen urinating in public on Pintail Lane were counseled by police.

2:27  A man reported he was bitten on the thumb by a stray dog while walking his dog on East 7th Street.  The injury was not severe.

7:02  A woman reported she drove by her residence and found all her belongings in the front yard next to a “free” sign.

Will the madness never end?  Can our country be saved?  Stay tuned.

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End of Summer

Ok, the leaves are falling right this very minute.  The rowan trees have turned their bronzy green, rust and gold beneath their red berry ornaments and the maples are ablaze.  But summer actually didn’t end until today, October 23.  I filled a bowl with homemade granola, spooned on the Mountain High yogurt and sliced the last peach–that would be the last juicy, succulant, fuzzy, sweeter than honey peach!–on top.  I ate it reverently, savoring every crunchy, slurpy bite.  Summer went out a winner!

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WC’s Around the World

hostel in Vienna

hostel in Vienna

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Planning for hard times

Tomorrow is an open house in Beanspore, WA.  You should all come.  I’m thinking, with the economy the way it is, and given the location, it’s very likely NO ONE will come.  Ordinarily, the Love of my life would be hosting the year’s big event, but he has to show houses, so I’ve been elected.  I don’t remember running.  I tried to run, when I learned I’d been elected.  Didn’t work. 

So, the next thing I did was start the mental list:  Things to Take to Mitigate a Mind-numbing Three Hours.  I ruled out wine, just in case someone DID come.  I also ruled out the dog, since I left him in the Southwest along with my heart.  So, here’s my absolute minimum list:

Book (Patrick O’Brian, The Yellow Admiral),  notebook and pen, knitting project, camera.

I don’t know if I like that order.  That probably indicates that  I COULD actually do without one or more of those absolute necessities.  I don’t like to think of it that way.   I just like to make lists and rearrange them.  And I like to plan for hard times.  Fill up water jugs, buy dried food, amass wool and needles.  You have your ideas of hard times and I have mine. 

Maybe I should take some Evian and a baggy of trail mix.  I’ll let you know if I make it through.

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Notre Dame

Notre Dame

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Strange Juxtaposition

So, the Love of my life was reading to me from one of the online investment sites for which he pays large subscriptions and I was knitting.  Purl three, knit two, purl two, c2b, purl three….   We were sitting in our well-lighted, warm and cheerful living room, well fed and listening to Evening Classical on NPR.  I was hearing more about why the stock exchange had tanked that day, and why stock exchanges around the world were tanking, and why banks won’t lend to each other and the consequences of that, immediate and long term, and how the treasury secretary had become the U.S. Supreme Banker in just a few short days.  There was so much more I only vaguely understood, but it sounded dire.  It probably is.

Then, I realized something else.  There was something  happening in another corner of my mind that didn’t seem to have anything to do with economic reality.  It had  to do with reality, though.  I was thoroughly enjoying the patterns that were emerging all along the bamboo needles.  I ran my fingers along the chunky blue wool and happily anticipated the outcome.

And there were other things.    I was remembering one segment of Mutts from last summer, where, in Frame one,  Earl and Mooch are lying under a tree on a sunny day.  Frame two:  Mooch purrs and Earl’s tail gives a little wag.  Frame three:  Earl says, “Summer breeze.” 

I was sensing the smell of cedar wood smoke.  And remembering a tiny boy telling me, “I’m not funny.  You’re funny!”  I was thinking about my sister-in-law’s serendipitous parakeets, Granny and Pippin.  I saw Iz’s intense brown orbs peeking out of that knit cap.  I saw Grandad’s eyes.  I thought about the miracle of KRoo’s recovering health.  And laughing again about an unusually good forward I’d gotten before I’d gone to work.  Like happening on a parade with a marching band and a Chinese dragon, my mind was playing it’s own version of “My Favorite Things”.  I laughed out loud!

Then I had to explain that laugh in the middle of an explanation of “deriviative meltdown”……   Some things are just inexplicable.

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Wish You Were Here

It’s a drizzly Saturday morning.  The locals are driving around with their lights on and their windows up.  They don’t seem to be in any hurry.  Stalwarts have made their way to the farmer’s market in their jeans and hooded jackets,….. cloth bags slung over their shoulders, laden with new crop apples, red chilis, striped squashes.  Woodsmoke from the barbecued ribs and frying empanadas, making their tacit appeals.  And the pavement, littered with tiny gold leaves, all wet and vaguely reflective.  Cheerful conversations between dripping hoods and under black umbrellas, while their dogs look around with quiet disinterest, also dripping.  Garlic braids with dried flowers, huge sunflowers lolling on their stems, bins and bins of squash and pumpkins, green and white striped, sagey, brilliant orange red against the doleful background.   Then to coffee at Bucer’s….

I can’t deny that it’ll break my heart to leave here….if I ever do.  Wish you were here.

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Torn

I know the house of representatives is about to sign on to the four hundred page ‘bailout’ of their own government boondoggle.  I know that hidden in those pages are even more ways of spending my money–ways that have nothing whatsoever to do with bailing anything out.  More bridges to nowhere.  Hundreds of bridges to nowhere.  When I don’t feel outraged and livid (there aren’t really strong enough words), I feel tired and hopeless.  The United States I knew as a child is functionally gone.  I grieve that loss deeply.

Then I look around.  When I woke up, I looked into my favorite face on earth.  Later, I found new e-mails full of the smiling faces of all the people I love most in this world.  I ate homemade granola with a perfect peach from last week’s farmer’s market with a dollop of thick, creamy yogurt.  I looked out the window and watched as two squirrels chased each other up and down a tree trunk.  Even a prisoner in a jail yard can appreciate the early sun on his jumpsuit and the song of a lark. 

I’m not a prisoner in a jail yard. 

 Yet, I have the possibility of becoming a prisoner of my own anger and fear every moment.  With my eyes on the government, I lose all ability to take joy in the steady and cheerful tick-tock, tick-tock of my Paris clock.  I forget that I CAN breathe, and see, and read, and take a walk with my husband in the autumn leaves.  I can pick up the phone and hear beloved  voices in a matter of seconds.  What is it that I want so badly that the government can take away from me?   What is it that I want so badly that I’ll fight for it and allow myself to be dominated with thoughts of it?   They only plan to take my money, right now.   Maybe it’ll get worse.  If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Come my people, Enter thou into thy chambers, shut thy doors about thee, hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

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