Sunday, December 29, 2013

Scenes from a Christmas 2013

My mood is a little better than it was at my last post  (a post the first paragraph of which I was about to tone down, when I saw that it had gotten views already, so I left it alone, figuring if I felt tired and depleted, and it showed, then heck, the truth was out).

It was a quiet, small Christmas.  Elder daughter had a couple days off, so she was with us, and we were all away from this neighborhood and the aching absences of it.   We took the two indoor cats, since hanging around with no cats is awful. 

  How COULD you do this to us?
 It's an outrage.

They were freaked at first, in a strange place, and then quickly decided it was wonderful.

We missed Scooter, the outdoor cat, a lot, but his favorite cat sitter came over to placate him.

K Mart, late afternoon Dec 24th.  "OK, Christmas is over!  Clear that space and have it full of Valentine stuff by one minute after midnight!  Let's go, people!"
We all went to a Genuine Episcopal church Christmas Eve, and it was a really joyful service.  I roasted a turkey.  It was small and Rombauer insisted it needed a day of refrigerator thawing, for every 8 pounds of bird, but after 36 hours the 8.75 pound bird was rock hard and took a lengthy series of cold water quick-thaw procedures.  Dinner turned out pretty good.  I really hate dealing with frozen turkey.

I had time to do some thinking and a lot of vegetating.

Here's the tree, with village underneath.  The church, and the two simple houses in the background, are a village that I made in 1992.  Back then, it sat on the windowsill of my single-woman apartment, on a white pillowcase and with low watt bulbs tucked under the buildings, to make them glow out the onionskin windows.  It was cool looking and I was quite proud of it.  I wanted to use them this year, among the rest of the houses and shops we collect:

I made my buildings out of mat board.  I wanted them to last. and the walls themselves are still colorful and haven't warped, but my joining methods were pretty primitive, so they're separating and need work to tighten them back up.  When they were new, lights under them looked awesome, kind of glowing out of the plain home windows, and the stained glass window I colored for the church looked nifty.  But the stained glass is really Flair [tm] pen coloring and has faded some.

So now, internally lit, the church looks like this :

Yet that somehow seems appropriate, after all the church infighting that's gone on.  In fact it's a good illustration for the quote that's probably getting overused lately :  "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A year to shut up about

I'm of two minds about blogging right now, because whether readers want to hear about how I'm handling things with this unexpected loss is less important, actually, than whether I want to blog about it.  This has been a bad year in a lot of ways before this.  Blogging about it without whingeing has seemed impossible and blogging with whingeing has seemed pointless and dreary.  The most important things are better -- everyone is pretty healthy -- and some legal crap is still unresolved,  but this sudden loss of Dad was....

The basics are, though, that it's OK in some ways, and awful in others.

There is nothing I could have wished for, or that I prayed harder for, than that my dad be spared a long disability or loss of his splendid mind.  I threw all those  "Thy will be done" prayer rules to the wind.

I know that the suffering people have to go through has absolutely jackshit to do with whether they deserve it.  And for all the good my father did, all the true caring for the hurting people in this world, all he taught us about giving, and his strong, amazing faith, I said to God,  "Dad deserves to enjoy life right up to the end, he deserves an easy passage, and so, GIVE IT TO HIM, do You hear me?"

God did.  Dad ran his life and made his choices up to the end, which was after only 9 days of illness. I could have wished him a last Christmas, and all of us a last Christmas with him, but the Hands that were in charge did good enough.  I guess.

Dad loved Christmas.  He was prepping, as he did every year.  The Christmas CD's started to play at his house on Nov 1., and he started  his Christmas cards.  This wasn't a premonition that he should get it done early.  His hands were stiffening badly and writing was time consuming, so he did a couple a day. (I've had to mail them with notes about his passing enclosed - these are old and dear friends, and needed personal letters.)

We had the annual Christmas planning conference:  who will cook what, how we will collaborate on the adopt-a-family shopping and wrapping, sharing the funding but Larry and me doing the leg -- and wrapping -- work.

He also ordered presents early, since he wanted nothing to do with computers or credits cards, and instead snail-mailed checks with order blanks.

A week ago, a package notice appeared in his mailbox. The box contained this.

There is no one else in his life he would have bought this for, but me, and yes, I cried all the way home. And will cherish it.  It's more than just a book he thought I'd like.  Cat mysteries abound in that catalog, but he'd never bought me one.

This is a "Black Cat Bookshop Mystery" and it tells me that he (who didn't like cats) knew I was secretly (a secret from him.  I thought.) feeding a black cat that was hanging around his house.

We joked about the cat.

"That damn black cat keeps hanging around."

"Hmm.  Well.  There are stray cats all over the neighborhood, but I guess it has too much competition up the street and decided to move into the woods down here."

"I'll just shoot it."  (Phony scowl.  Clearly trying to get me to react.)

(And I complied): Don't you DARE!"  (Knowing he really wouldn't.)

His driver license expired in August and he didn't try to renew it.  We set up errand mornings for me to take him around.  I found out later that, afterward, he would wait for Larry and me to drive off somewhere, and then take the car out for some illicit driving.

I have to explain why being told this made me so very happy.

He loved going out doing his morning errands, and, though he relinquished the license voluntarily, he hated the dependency.

He couldn't run errands illegally, because hey, when I came over to drive him, he needed to need the groceries, dry cleaning, haircut, etc.  So he must have just driven around because he could, and undoubtedly partly for the same reason he was so dedicated to his errands before -  the awful emptiness of the house without my mom.

But it seems to me that one of the worst things about getting old would be that you can't really have a private life anymore.  Even if someone you love and like to be with drives you, and you make all the decisions as to what and where....still, that person is all There, In Your Business.  You've given up a lot of your private life.

When I found out that he had a secret, and that he demanded, and by damn had, a personal life that didn't involve me, I cannot tell you how happy I was.

But there is a rightness about his passing that none of us felt about my mom's passing.  Hers seemed unnecessary, too soon.   And I have real guilt about ways I treated her, ways I failed to appreciate her, guilt that I don't have over my dad.

He and I were a lot alike, and we both had strong opinions, and we disagreed a WHOLE lot about some serious issues.  But we were fine with each other voicing those opinions, and we knew when and how (with a joke) to close a conversation.   He had the rare gift of disliking some of my beliefs, while making it clear not only that he loved me anyway, but that he found me genuinely admirable.

But I still can't deal with being in my parents'  house.  The people who made it matter are gone, and the thought of Christmas anywhere near this place and these memories is unbearable.

We have a good, soul-soothing place to go.  And when things calm down, I will tell you about that.  But understand, I did not want to do Christmas at all.  I'm enduring it partly as an homage to his love for it, and partly because flying to Las Vegas (Seriously, I want to do that.) would hurt feelings and be impractical.

But when I told my brother about that idea, that I want to because it is the total opposite of anything resembling my real life, he understood.

(Photo from a couple years ago)
%$#ing Ho.  Have a good one, yall.

Friday, December 20, 2013

To ponder

My old friend from college sent me this poem.  I love it.

     The Way It Is

     There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
     things that change. But it doesn’t change.
     People wonder about what you are pursuing.
     You have to explain about the thread.
     But it is hard for others to see.
     While you hold it you can’t get lost.
     Tragedies happen; people get hurt
     or die; and you suffer and get old.
     Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
     You don’t ever let go of the thread.

       -  William Stafford

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The homage I didn't get to give

When we met with the minister to discuss Dad's funeral, he said there would be a chance for people to speak. At our mom's, we spoke at the interment, but this time it would be in the church service.

On the day itself, we had the interment and the minister invited anyone who wanted to say anything there to do so, and said there would also be an opportunity during the church service (to which more people would come).  My brother said that if heaven is like the house our parents ran, it'll be a wonderful place. I really loved that.

The church service came. The church service went. At no point did the minister invite anyone, much less me, to speak. I was and am furious.

 Fortunately, the guy, who knew my dad well and had had many talks with him, said a couple of the things I intended to say. This loss was personal to him too.  Maybe his mind just fuzzed out.

But basically, it was important to ME to speak for my dad. For the occasion it needed to be short, so this barely scratches the surface, but anyway ... here it is, appearing in this venue only :

Everyone here knew my dad, and most of you knew the different sides of him.  He had a great sense of humor.  He was deeply dedicated to any cause he took up.  He could be grouchy and diplomacy-challenged.

He despised poverty and abuse, especially when the victim was a child.

He had a scientist’s understanding of the environment, but he had the love for the earth and the wilderness, of a man of faith, who believed in a creator, and in our responsibility as stewards of that creation.

When he believed something was right, he had trouble accepting compromise.

He had both empathy and wisdom.  Once when I was about 12, something deeply upset me.  I wish I could tell you what it was.  I don’t even remember now, but it was some fact of life, or pain, or death,  that I had become aware of.

I told him about it,  and I said,  “I try not think about it, but I can’t stop.” 

And he told me, "Don’t try not to think about it.  Do the opposite.  Think about it,  face it down,  keep on,  until it loses its power over you."

He was a great dad, and a man of integrity and compassion.

I will miss him more than I can say.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Dad : 1927-2013

We lost my dad last night.

This poor shot is a year old, but it makes me smile because it's Dad using an iPhone.  He wanted nothing to do with modern technology, but needed something with a camera function.

There aren't words for how I'm missing him.

Back later

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Language of Stubbornly Refusing to Let Go

For Christmas 1968, when I was 14, I asked for a bookcase.

I seriously thought it over beforehand.  Never had I asked for anything practical, or non-toy, or non-fashion, or unrelated to any pop boy band .... or anything non-fun.  I wondered if I would regret using up a Christmas wish on an empty piece of furniture.  But I kept wanting it, so I took a deep breath and asked for a bookcase.

This is it.  It still exists.

But as early as the next house, 1972, it moved to the basement where it held jars of home-canned jelly, and where it apparently attained some damage from seepage through the wall.  I'm not sure where it was after that, but it stayed with my parents as a utility shelf as they moved again, and was in the basement next door ten years ago.  But I do NOT think it was in there through Hurricane Hugo.  Hugo would have submerged it up to at least 3 feet in muddy salt water, and the damage looks too superficial for that.  It must have been upstairs.

Beats me.  But I asked for it, back when we moved into this house 10 years ago, and until today, it took the same role, sitting in our basement getting dirty and holding useful whatevers.

I see furniture in this kind of grubby condition in the bulk waste bins at the Recycle Center all the time.  But that always bothers me.  Yeah, it's not so pretty but sheesh, it still works!  It's real, solid, wood, not veneered particle board.  We're talkin' 1968, here.

OK, it needs some repair before it will hold much of a load.  It's disquieting to admit that something I got new is now "old wood" but it has dried and the shelves are pulling in.  The corroded back corner makes it a little unstable.  It will still free-stand but a gentle push tips it.  That's OK, it will go against a wall anyway.

I can't give it up.  Giving things up is something I am not good at.  I keep remembering how I loved it, and I did.  I never for a moment regretted getting a book case for Christmas and adored filling it with cool finds.
So I've just given it one heck of a scrubbing, and Larry, who knows how, says we can get those shelves more secure.

I choose to consider myself thrifty and able to appreciate function over cosmetics.  That's much nicer than admitting I absolutely hate to let go of anything.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Quitting Facebook

Facebook has become unbearable to me, so those who connect to me there might want to know I'm off it. Temporary or permanent break, dunno.

It has major privacy issues but i am one of the lucky ones who read a post from a friend 13-14 years ago, a post to a group we were both in, that explained how completely public everything you do online really is, how impossible to delete, how searchable, etc.  I guess I have never expected anything else, and am so in the habit of keeping that in mind that it always kind of surprises me when others are so blown away about the discovery that their privacy is nearly nil.  I kinda don't care how public my posts and comments are, because I always write them with that expectation.

But.  To be on Facebook is practically to enlist in an culture-war army, an army of Here Is What You Are Supposed To Think.  All day, and I only have about 55 active friends, the liberal and conservative posts spool and spool, and I mostly hate them all.

The Martin case has done me in.  I agree with much of what is said about the outrage that GZ committed, and STILL, STILL, I find that highly intelligent, highly educated friends who have demonstrated many times that they have complex and nuanced responses, are endlessly reposting multiple 2-dimensional lauds of Sweet, Innocent Martin on a sainthood fast track that will have him canonized long before John Paul II gets anywhere near his own.   I am BLOODY fed up.

It's not all.  There are family conflicts - distant family - going on right now and I can't even hide the culture-war junk and post about real life matters. I weigh every word, I worry how it will be read, or used, even when it's an inspirational quote or a book recommendation, I can't even be that self-edited milder version of myself there anymore.

Online life is stressful.  There are ways around offensive spam and offensive ads and Cardassians, but online life is a constant battle as each victory gets blocked, and the spam/junk purveyor creates a workaround; new defenses need to be employed, always a need to maneuver and cut off and reposition to attack again. It's like an old Mad Magazine piece from my youth, "Recruiting posters from history" that had one poster saying "Enlist now in the 100 Years War!"

I like so much of what the net has to offer.  We have an online business, plus there's wonderful stuff to fnd. I'm not willing to go back to 1970 tech.  Much of the battle against awfulness, I have to fight, but Facebook is one BIG battlefront I can at least take a major break from.

Back to blogging, maybe more of flickr (despite its changes) or Pinterest.  In the blog world I can read who I want to read, I can respond to people, I can write, certainly not much personal stuff -- same problem I have on FB -- but any musings I want to share, with a hair more control over their permanence and audience.  I know; not a whole lot, but some.  Writers need outlets.

None of the above right now.  I'm tired.

But I'm still here.  See yall around.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How do you tell a wedding from a war?

It's not easy.  Paula Deen would cater either one.

Ridiculously enough, as a southerner I get to Speak on the issue though my first point is gonna be that racism is a deep, ingrown, certainly nation-wide (not dealing with other nations at this point) thing, not about blacks but also middle Easterners, Latinos, name it.

Most talk about Deen is about her admitting use of N-- in the past and defenders are unfortunately right when they say that there are very few southerners past age 60 who haven't.  As I'm months from 60, I can report that the only time I remember using it was at about age 7 and I was thoroughly corrected, and don't remember trying again.  The lesson resonated in my mind at even hearing the word N-- afterward.

The rage at Deen has gone out of proportion, but it's explicable.  IF you understand what's behind it and I think I do.

The spoken rule is never, ever ever say N--.  Behind it I think there's an unspoken rule based on what I said above : racism so permeates our evolution, society and upbringing that no one expects you to foster no racism at all.  But what you are expected to do is never ever reveal it.  It's like pooping.  Everyone does, and that's blameless.  Only revealing it publicly is unforgivable.

And the reason is that revealing it exposes precisely that tolerance for racist feeling that granted you permission to keep on feeling OK about it if you just shut up.  We all think it but your loose lip reveals not only your racism but our own, the basic tolerance under the veneer.  If the veneer cracks on your watch, you will be crushed like a bug to distance the rest of us from it.

But then there's the wedding.  The slave-era theme wedding she was going to arrange.

Seems to me that this is much more crassly stupid.

And I'm not sure she has the gray cells to grasp that.  She must -- how could it be otherwise? -- see it as the same as Civil War reneactments, or the antebellum themed restaurant that gave her the idea.

Slavery isn't cute or nostalgic.  But war isn't either, it's horrible and bloody and nobody's crushing the careers of people who do Civil War games, and nobody's making much noise about that restaurant.  So what's the difference?

She doesn't see one, but it's clear to me.  ONE, the war games are not something anyone does unwillingly.  No one IS the role he or she plays.  Best friends might take roles as Union for one and Confederate for the other.  War can embody other values, valor, self-sacrifice for a cause.  {shudder} but if that's how someone sees it, shrug, Do your thing.

Yes, the wait staff at the restaurant, or at the hopefully never-happened wedding reception are not really slaves, the roles they play, either.  But their role is to help romanticize it, and there is no there there.

The restaurant is a crassness notch worse than reenactment games, but similar, in that everyone there was hired to play a role and took the job.  Deen's employees, on the other hand, were not hired orginally to play happy cute slaves or pretend slavery was endearing, and asking them to take the role for somebody's sacramental occasion.....

A wedding is a lot more personal than a restaurant.  It reflects the values of the families.  This seems nastier to me than going to a more impersonal restaurant and playacting the life of a rich white slaveowner.  Which is pretty nasty itself, but within the realm of  Hey, people can do what they want.

I don't get why this wedding thing isn't the Big Issue, but it needs unpacking of its analogies, and it takes more than sound bytes to cover it, so maybe that explains it.

So.  Deen screwed up and yes, cutesy racism is a big deal, but crucifying her not only does not solve the problem, it buries it with a symbolic effort.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A little talk with God

SCENE: Heaven.  A cool but pleasant day in a garden rich with fruit, flowers, NO mosquitos, and a plate of brownies in front of me.

God shows up with a clipboard full of forms.

GOD:   May I sit down?

ME:  Sure!  Have a brownie.

GOD:   OK, just one.  We need to go over your reincarnation plan.

ME:   My what?

GOD:  Reincarnation.

ME:   Haha!  Good one, God!  I keep forgetting.  You must have a sense of humor, since you created humor. 

GOD:  Not a joke, dear one.  It's time to reincarnate.

ME:  You.  Are.  Shitting.  Me.

GOD:  I rarely shit people.

ME:  Okay, then.  No.  Just no.

GOD:  You thought it was optional?

ME:  Well, basically, yes.

GOD:  No, I'm afraid it's a necessary part of soul development.

ME:  Look, Big Guy, I am just not buyin' that.

GOD:  You're requesting an exemption?

ME:  Duh, I am requesting logic. You invented that too, right?  So.  If 90 years of head colds, bee stings and algebra didn't Dee-Velop my Soul adequately before, it's all gonna be different this time?  Bull.  Sorry.  Been there, done that.  Not sitting through memorizing the state capitals ever, ever again.

GOD:  You really are not understanding this concept.  The idea is to have different experiences, things you couldn't experience in any single lifetime.  We can arrange for you to incarnate in a place where education is something children crave and embrace when they get the chance.

ME:  That's a small part of it, God.  I mean, come on.  You tellin' me there's any possible incarnation where I won't have to experience another stomach virus?

GOD: Well......

ME:  I thought so.  No dice.

GOD:  You seem to be forgetting that I'm God and what I say goes.

I watch Him for awhile, and He lets me process this.  And then I remember something.

ME:  You said something earlier about an exemption.

GOD:  I'm skeptical as to whether you qualify. You have a real attitude problem.  You whine about trivial complaints when others have endured torture, muscular dystrophy, the atomic bomb.  I think life as a religious minority in an eastern culture might do you some good.

Tears are rolling down my face.

GOD:  Don't look so miserable. Nobody has to be totally powerless to shape their destiny.   I grant everybody a wish before they go.  Make one.

ME:  I get a wish?  Anything?

GOD:  Yup.

ME:  Awesome!  OK.  I wish..... I wish that you had a speck of sand in your eye.  Right now.

GOD:  No, you're wasting it!  It's for life in your new incar-- OW!   Owowow!

ME:  Sux, doesn't it?

GOD:  OW!!!  This is wretched!  Wish it away, get this thing out of my eye!

ME:  Wait, though, I thought I only got ONE wish.

GOD:  Two!  OK? Take a second one!  Make it go away!

ME:  Fine.  I wish the speck of sand gone from your eye.

GOD: ......... Whew.  OK.  Yes.  Better.  That really is miserable.

ME:  Yes.  Yes it is.

God flips through the papers on the clipboard.
Puts it down next to the plate of brownies.
Rubs His chin for a minute.
Looks up at me.

GOD:  All right.  You've got a point.   Exemption granted.

He signs something on the last page of the paperwork and hands the clipboard to me.

GOD:  Sign here, and initial on the top page.

I comply.

ME:  Thank you, God.  I mean it.   Have another brownie.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

"Awards aren't important," she said, displaying hers.

I wasn't a big achiever in college, but I did manage to get into an honor society.  It wasn't terribly high profile anywhere,  and I think it went inactive in the '70's or shortly thereafter.

Delta Tau Kappa was a social sciences honorary.  Requirements (if I recall correctly) were to earn some level of A grades in social science classes, and have a B-average in general.  We're not talking Phi-Bete, here.  Cool.  I can do that.

We got certificates and gold pins and, I cringe as I remember it, I gave my pin to my ex.  As a token of my ... um ... esteem.  And I do not mean that I did so during the Soul Mates phase, but toward the end when things were bad and I was being told repeatedly that I was uncaring and unsharing and blah blah blah.

What a wasted gesture.  My membership should have been rescinded for that level of stupidity alone.

Years ago I started checking Ebay for a replacement.  Back then,  the "notify me" period expired in 30 days.   Several tries yielded no pins, and I gave up notifications.  I checked sporadically, but less often as time went by.

This week, something spurred me to try again.  Somebody was offering one!!

It's ba-a-ack!  Not my original - I got the history of this one from the seller.  No, this is an identical pin.  And for ridiculous reasons, I'm just over the moon to get it.

Should I pontificate about whether/why my honor society pin matters?

Oh what the hell, why not.  Blogging is dead but I am a cat and I resist change.

I can blame some of it on Camp Gethsemane For Girls, which I wrote about right here years ago.  I was a kid.  I guess part of me is still a kid.  I coveted that Gethsemane "G" and bought myself one later because I thought I deserved it.  What these things are really about is belonging.

The fact is that I was mopey and not particularly warm, enthusiastic, or liked at camp, and what that really cost me was the lifelong friendship some of the girls have.  However sukky the camp's standards were, some of the other girls, G-worthy girls, were warm, nice, smart, funny, very cool people who are in no way the Pious and Repressed.

But the Gethsemane awards had little to do with real life in other ways as well.  Just in the past month, I have discovered some later lives of a couple of Gethsemane's GGirls that would have made make the camp's leaders' hair follicles shrivel then, and would make them burst a blood vessel now, when it's gone much more right-wing evangelical than it was in my relatively preppie/high-church day.

Awards.  Here's my thing about awards, especially awards for children and teens.

Of course they should not be just handed out to everybody like the whole trophies-for-all trend.  But they should be based on clear objectives and actions and/or a definable achievement level.  That doesn't mean everybody earns a cup.  Not getting one is part of refining your sense of self and learning what you are good at and not so good at. 

But the Gethsemane G had no criteria.  It was given if they liked you.  What does this teach?  That sometimes you can be rejected based not on what you do, but simply on an indefinable assessment of who you are?

Before you say that's real life - yep.  That doesn't make it a teaching tool of any value whatsoever.  If you want to teach kids to work toward a goal, tell them how and evaluate them objectively for it.

My attitude and achievement probably really did not merit one, but I know of several other kids whose work and personalities very much did, and they too lost out.  I was in good company.

A very nice ladylike girl, lots of awards-and-positions and really liked, looked up to by enough others to get her voted her team's leader, never made that lifelong Gold G society, the Honor Circle.  Over and over, selection after selection, and since everybody else in that camp echelon was in, it looked aggressive on the part of the director.   I remember others just laughing, saying "Everybody knows that Mrs. D doesn't like Sue." [name changed]

Man, I hope Sue became a punk rock star.

One kid -- let's call her "Lee" --  was the sweetest, best, most genuine embodiment of Gethsemane Values you could ask for.  Our first year there, she got a G.  This was The Sixties, and apparently her parents decided to become Buddhists during that following year.  For some unknown reason Lee wasn't G material that next year.  Another friend also missed out on the G, and that one I could never even come up with a theory about, except that she was from a distant state and unlikely to bring the camp more applicants no matter how she exulted around her home town about how great it was.  That's all I can come up with.

I think all us losers need to get over Award Damage, but maybe it's actually winners who have a harder time. If we succeed in getting core-self affirmation from awards, we never make a clean break with over-valuing them. I could write about how I wanted the pin because I want to just re-gather lost stuff that my big life crisis deprived me of, but yall'd see through that and even if you didn't, it's not the real reason.  I care about having gotten into DTK, and feel a little uncomfortable with caring.

That's why sane award giving is so vital for kids with developing minds and values.  We see it in headlines, how no later acceptance and success can completely undo outsider status in childhood when it's particularly hurtful and sanctioned by the Authority we want kids to accept and work to be part of.

Give them a girl of an impressionable age and she's theirs for life.....

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Miles to go.

I have no idea why I developed a yen to haul out my art books and flip through them.  I mean, yeah, that's why I bought them, but this particular impulse was strong and sort of demanding.  If it was my Higher Power with some part of The Plan in mind, I still have no idea what or why, but when it's harmless and doable, I've learned to just go with it, and it's fun.
So I'm leafing through books I've had for many years, and a couple that I recently bought to replace lost copies from previous life.  After college, I workled at an art museum.  Answering the phone and telling people where the bathrooms were, but still.   They had a museum librarian and I considered what a cool job that might be and took some relevant classes at the univeristy.  And bought books.

The ones in the stack aren't all we've got, just what I've been in the mood for.  17th and 18th Century Art was a textbook I used for an art history course back then, fall 1979.  Not sure how my original copy left my environs, but a replacement was delightfully inexpensive on eBay, and so was 1948's edition of Gardner.   History of Art for Young People, and the National Gallery book were gifts from Dad, and excellent general history with luscious photos.  Vermeer -- gift from Mom --  is one of those creative geniuses who make me believe in the existence of the soul.  His light-bathed little deceptively ordinary house scenes have that luminous quality that seems to reveal something inexplicable. 

Holbein came from around the same time as that 17th-18thc. art history class.  $3.99 on a sale table, circa 1980.

I keep coming back to this portrait.

This is Charles de Solier, Sire de Morette, painted in about 1534.  According to the text, he was France's Ambassador to the English court.  According to the French version of wiki, that was brief.  I find little on him in a cursory search, but it's the portrait that grabs me.

This particular portrait is appreciated by artists (that link goes to the French PlusPedia entry done in Google Translate which explains the slightly odd wording), and deserves that appreciation, but isn't in that "everybody's familiar with it" category.  It wowed me immediately, even in my extremely dull-witted 20's.

Not only does the detail in that calm, smart face amaze me, but it's more than just physically realistic.  I fancy I can tell what he's thinking.  There's some weariness, but he's still in the game.  He's seen a lot and not much will surprise him anymore. The power and money and alliance game shifts but doesn't fundamentally change, and I think he's fairly recently come to an awareness that there will be a day when he just can't care much about the diplomacy game.  According to the link he lived to be wonderfully old for the time, around 30 more years after this portrait.  But the day to hang it up is not here yet.  Bring on the next thing.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Musta been my big day

I was going through old files recently, looking for something unrelated, and found this.

Apparently, I entered NC's Earth Day 1971 essay contest and got a best-from-this-school commendation.

I say "apparently," because my first reaction when I turned this up a couple months ago, after not seeing it for a lot of years, was to blink confusedly and say, "I did?"

It only took a few seconds to recall "Oh, yeah, that's right, I did."  And I still don't know what I wrote.

All I can tell you is that I didn't write an essay.  I remember that much.  Hey, I'm really Special, I don't do Rules.   So I wrote a story, or a poem, or something.  Which undoubtedly did not meet the judging criteria, about which I undoubtedly did not care.  This would be Junior year in high school and my contempt for everything was pretty over-the-top.

You could NOT "make me" go beyond what I had to do to minimally please authorities who, I was certain, had none of my best interests at heart and lived only to make kids miserable because they could.  I resented required Phys. Ed., I resented math requirements and made D's in them, I despised losing a Saturday morning sleep-in to take some blastended SAT test and did not give up any additional precious hours studying for it.  My scores reflected my approach to life.

So I was going to write what I wanted to write, to Bleep with their rules.  Which makes it even nicer that they gave me a nod.  They managed to compliment my Free Spiritedness, without over-rewarding a contestant who didn't follow the instructions.

I wonder what i wrote....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The shells

I wrote a post back in 2009 about marking the seasons with my mother's dining room centerpieces.  She passed in July 2010 and it's my job now.

It's April, Easter is over, it's time to put away the ornamental fruit and bring out the seashells.  As I arranged them i realized, with a little sock-in-the-gut feeling,  that I was doing it for the third time.

The first year is milestone after milestone, every occasion, and naturally the hardest. The second year kind of marks a passage into relief and making things your own.  As I did the table arrangements in spring and fall 2012, there was a kind of "Wow. Okay. We got through it" feeling.  Smiling and grumbling both started to uncurl little fiddlehead-style new growth.

The third go-around is oddly disquieting.  Has it been that long?  Have the ordinary days and the periodic rituals piled up to that degree?

We change some things.   We had never, ever, gone to a restaurant for a major holiday meal, but Dad surprised us all by agreeing to Thanksgiving 2012 at our favorite cafe (!) letting us all rest from kitchen work.  Mom loved poinsettias, Dad doesn't like them, we're skipping them.  Christmas and Easter still take place at the family table (which is back and nicely repaired after its Christmas collapse!),

....but I put out (gasp!) paper napkins at Easter.  The spring seashells and the autumn fruit gladden my heart, and I'll keep that tradition up even when it's just for myself, wherever we land, hopefully for decades to come.

There's a song called "Lesson of Love" (which I won't link because of the nauseating Christian "art" the youtubist added but you can find it easily on YouTube if you want to deal with a Christian song.  Singer is Ashley Cleveland) :

   World keeps turning.
   Bridges keep burning.
   I am learning
   the lesson of love.

Life moves on, and doesn't move on.  The seasons shift, the marsh grass greens over, and browns, and greens again, the tide churns in and out and the wind shifts.  The house stays, time eddying around it.

Holidays happen.  The hummingbirds are back for the summer.  I walk back and forth between houses.  We're keeping up the Mediterranean diet, which might get easier now that I've found a Mediterranean Slow Cooker cookbook. Late to the party but finding that, by damn, NCIS is really good! Older daughter HAS HER BACHELOR'S DEGREE! She fought hard against Crohn's Disease and plenty of ordinary obstacles too, and she did it!

Now our niece is applying to colleges, which astounds me. She was a child, like, 10 minutes ago.

I'm learning the lesson but still feeling like I don't know much about it except to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, to strike a good balance in providing for Dad and the rest of the family the level of continuity that helps and heals, but the changes and the forward motion that keep our souls from stagnating.

I try to think what I would want, what I do want, for my loved ones when I'm gone, and I feel like only the genuine pleasure from the traditions should stay.  If they like things I liked, then we're connected when they enjoy them, but anything I enjoyed that they don't, I pray they'll skip.  Maybe plodding through some tradition that I was all into, even though it annoys people, is a kind of remembrance, but not a kind anybody needs.

I'm older and colder.  There have been huge losses since then for Larry and me, and I feel like I'm in my 60th year and still don't understand a thing in this world.  Believers tell me life is about preparation for the next life, and non-believers tell me life is about here and now and each other on earth because That's a Wrap, and neither one makes sense to me.  The things that do make sense are : cats; Vermeer paintings; Denise Levertov's poetry.  Much is good.  Trying to keep Dad supplied with fun mysteries to read, the often enjoyable pointlessness of telling someone he's wrong on the internet, catering to cats, making things and swearing at yarn, concocting recipes, connecting with friends, planning new plantings for the yard.  Mostly just doing the Next Thing in front of me and having no idea where I'm going.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Just trivial news of the moment:

Afghan finished!
A much easier "pattern" than the huge one I made before.  My concession to planning was to make the same three stripes on each end, but from there in, it's random! It's a much more reasonable size.  Those stripes that look white are actually light blue.  My camera's white-balance needs adjusting which I might get around to....

We're going on the Mediterranean diet.  Our first two meals were happily excellent!

Day One, and leftovers for another day, consisted of

Cinnamon Scented Chicken


Balsamic Roasted Vegetables.

My Opinion - Great!  And the two dishes were a nice complementary pairing.  The chicken was indeed mostly scented. It smelled but did not taste particularly cinnamon-y, but had a tart lemon/curry/herb sauce, while the veggies, despite the balsamic vinegar, were savory-sweet, possibly because of the vegetables we picked: butternut squash, beets, carrots.  Other choices might be more balsamic.

The chicken recipe came from this cookbook which we had on hand. It's older and out of print, though used copies are out there and I can recommend the healthiness and the tastiness of the recipes -- but not the "Quick" part.  Delicious recipes but the title lies about prep time!  Takes a lot longer.

 Roasted Vegetables found here.

Day Two -- also from our single Mediterranean cookbook, above, and also with generous leftovers -- was turkey cutlets and sauteed pears over couscous.

My Opinion -- Next time we will double the sauce.  But even with too little, it had an appealing flavor that seemed very mild at first, but still made me want more and more of it!

There you have it.  Needlework and cooking.  If they try to shoehorn me into the Proverbs 31 Woman Club, I will scream obscenities and declare my love for female leadership, sleeping late, and gay rights, and make sure they eject me. Oh, and I will fink on Larry, too, who did plenty of the cooking.

 Speaking of not toeing the gender-role line, people are changing their Facebook icons to support gay marriage, and I decided to participate in my own snarky way, though I am not entirely happy with my lopsided symbol drawing:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dear Kroger - Thank you!

Dear Kroger Stores:

     Thank you for Nutty Nuggets.

    Original Grape Nuts is now the Late, Great.  But you still offer a version of it. Nice and simple and soy free. And I am grateful.

A Happy Customer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Now with Totalitarian Protein!

It might seem trivial, but one of the few favorite cereals I get to eat on occasion is now gone.

I really need to avoid sugar.  Artificial sweeteners are getting more and more bad press, and even health-food cereals tend to have allegedly-healthier sugar-products ("evaporated cane juice," etc.) in them.

But there was Grape-Nuts.  Yeah, yeah, and there's still Shredded Wheat but that's like eating all-weather carpeting.

When I wanted a healthy carb blowout, Grape-Nuts with a little stevia, some sliced peaches, and whole milk -- not cruddy skim -- were healthy and still a treat.

I ran out.  I went to the store. And there was the new and Damnably Improved Grape-Nuts, now infused with .....

soy protein.

Now it has been decided for me that I MUST have protein in my cereal.

If I want protein with my cereal, I will have a goddam egg. Oh wait, that means choosing for myself.  Whatever was I thinking?

I wrote them a letter. It's pasted here.  I'd have improved the wording some if I'd taken more time, but it's adequate:

I am furious to discover that you have put soy protein into Grape-Nuts cereal.  Many of us are allergic or sensitive to soy.  You seem to think that i must have protein in my cereal. Soy gives me migraines and digestion problems. Soy is being forced on consumers in products to which it has NO relevance and does not belong,

I cannot understand this. Adding a protein-infused product would make business sense but REPLACING basic Grape-Nuts with this grain-plus-soy product does not.

It matters because there are not many unsweetened cereal choices.  Cereals without *any* sweeteners do exist, but there aren't many, and Grape-Nuts was my favorite. Nothing was better with some peaches and milk.  Now I have to give it up.

PLEASE restore original, SIMPLE Grape-Nuts to your product line.

I expect to get nowhere, and can always go to the health food store, or to another grocery that stocks a whole foods section. Cascadia Farms or Health Valley, or whatever brand does their own barley-nugget-cereal version, does exist and is still nice basic "It's carb because carb is what cereal is, OH-frikkin-Kay?"  

I hope and pray.  Because natural-food producers are apparently as much in the soy-lobby's iron grip as Big Food is. The soy lobby isn't funny.  They see to it that their beans are forced on us in every bizarre way, shape, and form.  They convinced Amy's Organic foods to add tofu, of all obnoxious things, to bean-and-cheese products, like those aren't basic vegetable protein, some with dairy protein, dishes already.

Ever looked at your salad dressing label?  Most of the organic/health food dressings are soybean-oil based, just like Kraft, Hidden Valley, et al. I found a couple that aren't, in 2 different stores.  Bless these companies, and bless any store that stocks at least some alternative to soy:

With canola oil!
Remember Mazola corn oil margarine? From back about 40 years ago? Have you tried lately to find any margarine that's not soybean oil?

I am fed up with soybean farmers and their stranglehold on US food production.



All I can do is say my piece and then go buy something else. Maybe finding food should be a hard job again.  They make it easy for us First Worlders, and we just smile and put it in the shopping cart, and stop casting critical eyes on them.  I've been as complacent as anybody.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cupcake philosophizing

The phrase "C. S. Lewis said..." is almost as ubiquitous among the Believer crowd as "the Bible says..." and just about as annoying.  Some quote him like he's practically posting from Patmos, and, come on, he's a Guy and as imperfect as the rest of us. But a lot of his stuff was quite cool, and this came to mind today.

This is from his Space Trilogy, specifically Perelandra, in which the protagonist of the series, Ransom, visits a yet-unspoiled Eden world. He encounters fruits ("gourds") of exquisite flavor, and many other plants of mystical properties.

And some berries. Here's the Berry passage:
He made his way gingerly towards the coast, but before he reached it, he passed some bushes which carried a rich crop of oval green berries, about three times the size of almonds. ... It turned out to be good to eat. It did not give the rich orgiastic and almost alarming pleasure of the gourds, but rather the specific pleasure of plain food--the delight of munching and being nourished, a "Sober certainty of waking bliss." A man, or at least a man like Ransom, felt he ought to say grace over it; and so he presently did. The gourds would have required an oratorio or a mystical meditation.
But the meal had its unexpected high lights. Every now and then, one struck a berry which had a bright red centre; and these were so savoury, so memorable among a thousand tastes, that he would have begun to look for them and to feed on them only, but that he was once more forbidden by that same inner adviser which had already spoken to him twice since he came to Perelandra.
"Now on earth," thought Ransom, "they'd soon discover how to breed these redhearts, and they'd cost a great deal more than the others." Money, in fact, would provide the means of saying encore in a voice that could not be disobeyed.
A friend brought us these cupcakes yesterday.

Yeah, I have eaten one and its components were great, so I suspect the rest are too, but I think that they are so over-iced it ruins them.

But I'm probably in the minority. The cupcake trend (I'm told it's passé now) and designer pastry craze, when it involves icing, seems to make the cake a mere platform for icing, both for visual artistry, and for the more concentrated sugar-rush that, I guess, people want. To do the chef justice, the cake wasn't a bland shrug-off to carry the icing, it's excellent on its own merits. Just..... way too small. These things are HALF icing, and honestly, interesting, savory cake is what requires, and better demonstrates, more serious chef-y skills.

These are extremist overkill.  And maybe it's just my continuing irritability - everything annoys me - but I feel constantly bombarded by extremist overkill.

Everything is ultra-loud, ultra-bright, and especially, ultra-simple.  Yeah, you guys will rightly dispute my use of "everything."  But I think it's the loud, simple movies full of cathartic explosions and chases and extreme highs and lows for the characters, that become the blockbusters, and drive more studios to want more of them.

Murder mysteries are boring the bleep out of me, with the extreme highs and lows of the detectives.  So many stock detectives, on personal/emotional skids, utter relationship failures but utter invincible battlers against evil, staying low in emotional wastelands, or turing it totally around and Finding The One, yadda yadda.

And TV.  And not just kiddie message-shows ("You vill have lesson pounded in with sledgehammer, jah!") and Disney Channel ("You vill have laffs and pathos..." see above).

I ran into a rerun of the 1980's sitcom Gimme a Break awhile ago and thought how much it showed its age, not from lack of talent or plot, but because of how quiet it was.  At the time it originally ran, it seemed energetic and full of stagey exaggeration.  Compared to now, it's subdued. Some audience laughs were just low ripples the actors talked right over.  There were sometimes actual quiet beats between sentences. The pace was somehow more natural and that seemed languid. The set wasn't the kaleidoscope of riotous color and object clutter that I feel like I see everywhere, even in good shows.

There are some good house building/renovating shows on HGTV, but I have watched the Fake Conflict Factor rise and rise, every episode of some of these shows having to feature obviously coached people having obviously choreographed arguments, calling the project a disaster and the designer -- or each other -- a failure, so it can all finally come together with a gushing "Oh, I can't beLIEVE it,  this is so-o-o great!"

All emotions are extreme.  All experiences are overwhelmingly pain or pleasure.  I think it's getting harder to train our brains to even perceive, much less appreciate, subtlety, nuance, or complex interplay of flavor, or character.

OK, OK, there's plenty left, and it's always been incumbent upon the consumer to seek out and support better craft.  There are classics, there are great shows and books and cuisine, humane, life-affirming stuff.

I'm not saying it's died.  I'm not even saying that it will die out, only that it's being crowded and marginalized by the need to outshout and outsell the competition by offering the more overwhelming sensory experience. This baker clearly can bake great cake, but she has to make a living, and customers want the towering pile of decorative goo.  Money talks in a voice that can't be disobeyed.

And, sugar addict though I am, I don't like the cupcakes.  I love cake.  Bare cake, even, no icing at all, if it's excellent. These, at least, judging by my one, are buried under a stomach-acid-flaming load of pure butter and sugar, and while I'm free to scrape it off, there won't be much left when I do, not like the days when a cupcake was a cake with icing, not icing loaded on a disc of cake.

The market forces craftsmen to assault our senses and us to work harder to escape from it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My fascinating new afghan and bookcase

Sometimes I try to craft an interesting post title, but other times, I just want to warn people how mundane it will be.  This is one of the latter.

Larry needed a bookcase so I looked at the beat-up white cubes I was using and decided I needed one too.  The new ones came in pieces and were assembled with one screwdriver and much swearing.

There's no discernible rhyme or reason as to what's on it.  This is my dumping ground for books I look at or read over and over because I love where they take me, and some that I want to read -- unread books are EVERYwhere in this house, so that's just a selection -- and some research that's really not underway yet, and the growing Complete Peanuts collection because it outgrew its previous shelf. If you see a classic in this group, it's probably one I have NOT read, with the exception of Robinson Crusoe which I pick up for serenity.

Those white cube-shelves have had a thousand uses over the years since around 1998.  They're getting rather beat but are still useful for utilitarian purposes.  Maybe a closet.  Not sure yet. 

Dismantling the cubes provided Downyflake with a Shelf Cat opportunity.

The striped afghan is the new work-in-progress.  When I finished the previous afghan, my father dropped several hints that he wanted one.  This one is for him and is proceeding as fast as I can manage.  It's smaller, and it's not going to need a whole secondary project of sewing it together, and there is no pattern.  No plan.  Nothing.  I pick up whatever shade of blue looks like it should be next.  So what you see is only (I amaze myself!) 2 weeks' work and I hope to have it done in 6-8 weeks.

And that's the update!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We'll call it a Learning Experience

The First Afghan is finished.  It's the 4th one I ever attempted, but the first one I ever completed; in fact, it's the first one that ever got past 6 inches, before I abandoned them.

And it is beyond ridiculous.  Here I've spread it across a double bed so you can see that it's the Babe The Blue Ox of Afghans.

I know yall won't think it's stupid-looking, and if I had intended it be be as big as a DOUBLE bedspread, then that would be cool.  But I didn't.  I intended it to be about 5x7 feet.  But it somehow grew to double-bed size.  It took forever.  And never, ever again will I let that happen.  I'm also not entirely pleased with the pattern, but it's OK. I'd like to have inserted a couple more green squares and broken up that big dull medium blue expanse, but it's pretty nice, plus it taught me some things.

Meanwhile, here's a cool thing.  My grandmother's sewing cabinet, which was later my mother's sewing cabinet (even sewing-averse people have to put on a button or something at times) is over at Dad's/Mom's house, and in it I just discovered my great grandmother's crochet hook.

I'm making an assumption that it was hers, since my grandmother did knit and do needlepoint, but I'm not aware that she ever crocheted.  Either way, it belonged to one of them.

Back home in my own venerable junk, I also turned up a bundle of my own crochet hooks from circa 1970.  One of them, a "size 00" , is almost a duplicate of Gran-or-Granny's.

But not quite.  And I will never get the two mixed up because thanks to inflation -- something I'll probably never again have occasion to say -- they are clearly from different decades:

If you can't read the prices, the photo should enlarge enough for you to see them if you click and "view photo."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I. Will. Not. Be. Moved.

You missed the beginning, because I couldn't get the phone camera ready.

This is a little cat, half kitten, not over 5 months old, tops.

He and a grownup cat were at the side of the road examining that puddle.  Grown cat saw a large vehicle coming and sensibly dashed away.

Half-kitten sauntered to the center of the road, sat and faced the car down.

We played Chicken. He won. Carefully, we circled around him and drove on.

It's hilarious but it's not, in that many drivers would run him over. Is he too young to know danger, or is he the early landing of the Kzinti?

I dunno.  If he survives to adulthood, I bet he'll be a force to contend with.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trust but verify

Within one day, the issue of media reports and their trustworthiness came up twice for me, in 2 different venues.

Months ago, Dann Todd -- libertarian/conservative blogger, linked for you over on the sidebar in my list of good reading -- posted a blog entry about the filmmaker whose film trailer was at the time being blamed for the Benghazi attack.  Dann was referring us to another source, and I had some serious criticism of that source.  OK, I did also rake Dann over the coals for believing it....

A couple days back he posted a followup responding to some of my objections.  I'll let you read it for yourself, his original September post, with my critical comment, and the followup post.  They cover both our points, no need to go over it again, but Dann's willingness to take second looks and respond thoughtfully is engaged in by too few people and should be admired all the more for that.

He mentions the problem of responding to a current news story quickly, instead of letting response simmer for awhile.  It is difficult to juggle that.

Journalism has never been infallible, nor has it claimed to be, and it's always been important to take time with a piece and cast a critical eye on its points.  Nowadays with some bloggers being granted pro-journalist status by their massive readerships, it's even more important.

They can be full of it, liberal and conservative alike.  The instant "wisdom" of many liberal rant-ers after the Trayvon Martin shooting, and the Newtown shooting, was often jawdroppingly ghastly.  I'm not letting conservatives off the hook.  Ill-considered reactions are more about lack of professional training than about political leanings.  It takes education and experience to look at one's raw feeling and evaluate whether it has basis or logic, or is oversimple.

Hard to keep a blog timely, keep response heartfelt and not over-edited into blandness, without reacting early, while data is still coming in. If you're not a reader of Comic Strip of the Day, you should be because it often covers editorial cartoons and the issues they present, and Mike Peterson is a pro journalist and a fast sorter of wheat from chaff.

Dann also does that point-by-point unpacking in the followup entry, and casts his critical eye on the claim by the filmmaker's son that his father isn't tech savvy.  The no-computers terms of the dad's probation for bank fraud make that suspect.

Sometimes, doing that critical evaluation is absolutely all that I, as the reader, have to go on.

I speak of the other issue I had, a Facebook post I'd responded to the afternoon before.

There's a internet story that's been circulating for nearly a decade - a pastor named Mathes posted a blog entry almost 10 years ago, about an experience he claims he had.  In his account, he attended a state prison volunteer-training program conducted to discuss the three major religions and help volunteers understand inmates' various beliefs.

Mathes says that after the Muslim Imam spoke, he had some questions for that Imam about the instruction in the Koran to kill infidels.  In Mathes' account, the Imam sheepishly admits that, yes, they are called to kill Christians and others who do not convert.

That is assuredly one radical interpretation, but not the mainstream one. 

Mathes then answers the Imam, compares that concept of Allah to the God of love presented in the narrative of Christ, and is just made of win.

Many old classmates from my high school have friended me on FB, and show they've gone in a hard-right direction.  One posted this story, with a final statement that we should all "For  Christ's sake, pass it on!" because Islam was growing and would soon be a US voting majority (?) and elect a Muslim president.

Here is the assessment of Mathes' account. I tried to do my usual polite thing, but i expressed skepticism and posted a link to snopes in my comment on my old classmate's post.

The whole thing stayed very civil, but another commenter directed his comment to me, pointing out that each source -- the original account by Mathes and the snopes debunking -- was only a source. He concluded his comment with:  " 'Trust but verify' - isn't that what Reagan said?"

I acknowledged that, because it's true.

Snopes is a source;
the prison officials who say it didn't happen the way Mathes claimed are a source;
Mathes, who was there, is a source.

That leaves only us, and our ability to think critically.  So, no, I can't say that i take snopes as infallible. To their credit, snopes calls the reliability of the account "mixed," because Mathes did write it and DOES declare it accurate, while others who were also present differ.

I disbelieve the Mathes story because it sounds absurd.

That's what decided me.  It made no sense.  The program directors in a prison are unlikely to choose a radical jihadist Imam as their source for Islam info for a program.  Any presenter would be thoroughly vetted.

But sure, a radical could work hard to hide his radicalism and slip through.

Only, we're then asked to believe that he'd not only get through the vetting process, but that he'd come right on out with Kill The Infidel, there.  There, in a panel discussion, in a prison manned by state law enforcement types.  Not in whispered private discussion with somebody after the presentation, but in the panel.

I mean, that would be great.  The newly created Department of Homeland Security would be going through that Imam's phone records, financials, known associates, and bagged trash, as fast as a newly-created department could pull it together, but it's highly doubtful to me that he'd say this stuff even if he believed it, and it's even more doubtful that in 2003, after 9/11 and the same year that the Iraq War started, he'd be so unprepared to hide radicalism as to be that caught off guard by a question that was not even a trick question.

Between the implausibility of the Imam's response, and the accounts of prison officials who say that not only was there no Imam present (a Muslim inmate gave the Muslim presentation), but that the question did not come up  ... the 2 things together leave little room other than to call the pastor an intentional liar.

A lot of people default to trust in a minister.  Would a clergyman have such weak faith in Christianity's ability to prevail on truth alone, that he'd make up stories?  Or is it ego, a need to be a David-mops-the-floor-with-Goliath hero in the eyes of his readers?

If it did not happen as he claims -- and I do not claim it is objectively proven (that would need unedited one-take video or something) -- he both demonstrates a lack of faith in the Christian message, and he violates the trust --or what's left of it-- that people have in him and in the ministry.

Finally, he asks us to believe that the Imam was sheepish and shamed and head-bowed.  Do ardent Christians really need to believe a radical jihadist Imam would melt in the face of such questions like the drenched Wicked Witch??  For serious?

Come ON.  Logic.  Critical thinking.  Hello?

We do need to verify, but in too many cases, we can't do it.  We have to trust.

If varied, and even opposite accounts of an event do not reveal an obvious "no way" factor like this, it's a lot harder to sort them out.  This is why these journalists, writers and bloggers hold a sacred trust.

Sacred.  There are things we can sort with our mental abilities, but many we can't.

I dunno about Reagan's admired quote, because no media seems to be truth-driven anymore.  I
might prefer Agent Mulder: "Trust no one."


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Scenes from a Christmas

Sleep is very important. Always make sure you get enough sleep.

Artist daughter painted me this awesome homage to Lucy Van Pelt!

It will live in the Reading Corner.

That basket you see, currently collecting crocheted squares, is kind of a gift to myself.  They're made by a rural artisans in Bangladesh and sold by SERRV - click here to buy these or many other awesome Fair Trade crafts by rural farmers and artisans around the world.  You buy them in a bundle of three, and I gave 2 as gifts and kept this one.  The nifty M&Ms stress relief ball was a Christmas gift from my dad.

When in doubt, sleep.

The annual Scooter Calendar is always a cherished gift. The 2013 is its fourth edition.

Oh, and the dining table collapsed.

Fortunately Christmas dinner was over. It's done this several times, about once every 15-20 years. The repair guy picked it up yesterday.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!