Monday, December 26, 2005

Vacation Mode



After a full and delightful Christmas celebration yesterday with Donica's family in south Atlanta, we fly this afternoon to spend a full week at the Hart Family Cottage in Michigan. The first few days we'll be alone for some nice R&R but come the New Year weekend, the tribe will descend and we'll celebrate my side of the family.

But alas, alack--NO INTERNET for my trusty little laptop! So I'll have to teach it how to rest and be patient. Or maybe it'll have to teach me? It's such a lifeline, you know.

I'll just busy myself with all the things I want to catch up on, like reading, poring over my camera settings and PhotoShop, working jigsaw puzzles, watching last season's "24," etc. We're even hoping for some snow! My best memory of the cottage in winter is walking around or ice skating on the frozen lake but I can't even remember when we've had a cold enough winter for that recently. (Sigh)

So, ciao for a week. Please don't forget about me! You can bet your bottom dollar I won't forget about you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Back at you on January 2, 2006.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

TO: Jesus

Happy Birthday, Sweet, Swaddled Baby-Child!
Sleep in heavenly peace.

FROM: Ginnie

[We found this soulful "papoo" in Alaska in 1999.]

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Narnia: A Different Slant

Today, as part of our Christmas celebration, my grown kids went with us to see the first of the Narnia movies, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, co-produced by C. Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis. We loved it! According to Gresham, "Jack didn't intend the Narnia books to be an evangelistic fantasy. The myths of Narnia are partly those of the great man-made religions - Norse mythology, Hindu mythology, as well as the true myth of Christ. Exposure to man's myths will make young viewers ask questions about themselves - and only later will the seed of faith take root."

Paradoxically, Gresham has not joined the Christian bandwagon gearing up around the film. Won't it at least impart a subliminal Christian message to young audiences, I ask?

"I sincerely hope not," he snorts. "Because - and this is what people always get wrong - it's not a Christian film and the Narnia books aren't Christian novels."

Hmm. Most interesting. One would guess he would know. But what a different viewpoint from that of so many of us who grew up with the Chronicles! Does it matter? What do you think?

[Btw, I was in my first year of college, November 22, 1963, when C.S. Lewis died and when JFK was gunned down in Dallas. I will never forget that day! So many of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we got the news about JFK. Do you?]

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wintering In

Yesterday was such a strange day for me. December 21. The Winter Solstice. The Sun entering Capricorn.

It was the first day "on which same-sex couples were allowed a legal status comparable to marriage -- including the same social security, pension, tax and inheritance rights -- in England and Wales. (The law went into effect earlier this week in Northern Ireland and Scotland.)" And perhaps the most famous gay couple of all, Elton John and David Furnish were married. Bravo for them!

Then in the afternoon, Donica and I drove all the way down to Midtown Atlanta to see the new movie, Brokeback Mountain. It spans 20 years starting in 1963 (the year I graduated from high school), and by now I'm guessing everyone knows what it's about: the love that cannot be spoken. Donica's first words after it was over was "What a great love story!" And I just cried. It touched so many places long ago left behind. Or at least I thought. Maybe those places never really go away as long as we live in a country so split over the issue. Maybe we're meant to relive them until change happens?

So I left the theater wondering if this movie will make a difference. Will it have any power to bring us one step closer to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Or Canada, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Or will it only rile up the opposition that much more!

Once we got back to our neck of the woods and did some last-minute shopping, we stopped for an ice-cream cone. My choice: Rum Raisin! A good flavor for bringing in the Winter of our souls. Maybe we'll be surprised by some warm fireplaces a-blazin' in places we least expect? Eternal optimist that I am, I can only hope so.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Giving Tree

True to what so many of us do, I did a Wiki-search on the Christmas tree tradition: "The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of the ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life.... Individuals' decorations vary wildly, typically being an eclectic mix of family traditions and personal tastes; even a small unattractive ornament, if passed down from a parent or grandparent, may come to carry considerable emotional value and be given pride of place on the tree."

As I've said before, our slim tree is our Memory Tree of places we've visited in our past 8 years together. Here's a sampling:

Honolulu, Hawaii; St. Croix, Virgin Islands

Any Town, GERMANY

Jekyll Island, Georgia; Catalina Island, California

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Inside Passage, Alaska

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, CANADA; Saugatuck, Michigan

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

Bar Harbor, Maine

Chartres, FRANCE; Salzburg, AUSTRIA

This Memory Tree really is our Giving Tree because it gives back to us every year the memories of these special places. I've tried to pick ornaments where some of you (my readers) live, or thereabouts. And so as I remember these places, I remember YOU and wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and the best of wishes as we move into yet another New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Braggin' Rights Rites

Last Thursday was Nicholas' Christmas party at school and I got to remember what happens in Kindergarten! I kept thinking there was going to be a program and I wanted to make sure I got there early enough to get a good seat for photos. But, NO, it was a party, not a program, G'ma!

First of all, when Nicholas woke up that morning, he told Amy he wanted to wear this shirt because he wanted to look handsome for his party. Since it was a "working" party, the teacher put reindeer shirts on everyone (ones they had painted themselves), and he still looked handsome.

Oh, to be in Kindergarten again, to do all the crafty things and frost cookies and eat them! The mommies, one daddy and one grandma (moi) were there to help out. But because there was plenty of help to go around, the grandma just took pictures! It's my right, you know...and my Rite of Passage as a grandma.

There's just something about seeing Christmas through the eyes of your grandson! I'm sure I saw it through the eyes of my own two kids way back then but I don't remember it in the same way.

You know what we say: "If I had known being a grandma was going to be this much fun, I would have done it first!" Grandmas are so lucky. Everyone let's us get away with bragging!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Star of Wonder

Not to be sacrilegious, but I'm talking about 5-year-old Nicholas! We did our family Christmas outing this past Saturday to the newly-opened Georgia Aquarium here in Atlanta. Oh my. Talk about Wonder for all of us!

On 9 acres next door to our 1996 Centennial Olympic Park, it is the World’s Largest Aquarium, with over 8 million gallons of fresh and marine water, and 100,000 animals representing 500 species from around the world. The brainchild of Bernie Marcus, founder of Home Depot, it cost over $200 million, $80M+ of which Marcus donated himself. What a gift to our city!

Btw, in the top right photo is Nicholas at the window with G'ma (moi) in picture-taking mode up close and personal (photo taken by my son, Mark).

Everything you'd ever want from an aquarium, and then some, is what we got. So much of the space is dedicated to interactive touching, playing, watching, feeling. The 4-D theater show made a child out of ME, full of wonder, as bubbles popped in front of my face and Deepo told us about why we need to take care of our oceans. Yes, Deepo (get it!), the Aquarium's mascot.

The good news is that I got some wonderful photos everywhere we went. The bad news is that I still have camera and PhotoShop settings to learn to make them better. However, I've still put them in the album because as far as I'm concerned, they're better than nothing. The good news is that we bought annual passes to the Aquarium, so when I go back, I've promised myself to know how to do it better!

I pictured Jesus, the Star of Wonder, at age 5 going to the Aquarium. We know about his Virgin Birth and his little episode in the Temple at age 12. But apart from that, we really know nothing else about his childhood.

Nicholas chose the whale shark as his stuffed toy to take home. I wonder what Jesus would have chosen?! Maybe a starfish :)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Family Stone Tree

What a wonderful movie! We just got back from seeing it tonight and loved it. How can you NOT love it with actors/actresses like Diane Keaton, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker and Luke Owen!

NO SPOILERS HERE.

This post is a burst-my-buttons post about the writer and director, Thomas G Bezucha. He just happens to be the cousin of my niece's husband.

I think that makes me "six degrees of separation" from Diane Keaton, right!!!! HELLO!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Just for the Halibut

The other day I did a post on jigsaw puzzles and without even thinking about it, pulled an image off of Google. The only problem with that was someone thought it was my photo and made all kinds of nice remarks about it.

So, with mea culpa in mind, yesterday, while our power was out (btw, it was out for another hour this morning--arrgh!), I shot this photo of Nicholas' "Babe" (no, the pig!) 100-piece puzzle. I'm not gonna say it's better or worse, just that it's truly my photo this time.

And I got to experiment with a filter in Photoshop that gave the pieces a "Poster Edge!" That was worth the whole thing as far as I was concerned. (So thanks, PG :)

To Meme or Not To Meme

An infection is going around in my blogging world right now and since I've been tagged by someone I respect, I'm beholden to follow suit! So here goes.

Rules: Post 5 random and weird facts about yourself, then at the end, list the names of 5 people whom you in turn infect. Also, leave a post to these people letting them know they have been infected.

  1. I never knew what a meme was until two months ago and didn't even know how to pronounce it. (So I Googled it: Pronounced "meem." An idea, thought or piece of information that is passed from generation to generation through imitation and behavioral replication. Coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene," memes and memetics are the cultural counterpart to the biological study of genes and genetics. Using the evolution analogy, Dawkins observed that human cultures evolve via "contagious" communications in a manner similar to the gene pool of populations over time.)
  2. Being spontaneous was super hard for me in my early adulthood, so much so that I senselessly missed out on a trip to Machu Picchu in 1969 that was at my fingertips. Life had to stick to a schedule without unplanned deviation. Thank God that changed somewhere along the line!
  3. When I had (non-paralytic) polio at age 9, I was strictly forbidden to attend gym class the rest of my pre-college schooling. Ironically, outside of school I whipped 'most everyone's butt athletically, male or female.
  4. I grew up in a Baptist preacher's home and wasn't allowed to dance, drink, smoke or go to movies. My first movie in a theater was my first year at the University of Michigan in 1963: To Kill a Mockingbird. Today, at age 60, I average one movie a week in the theater, making up for lost time, I assume!
  5. Along that same line, I knew I was never to touch Astrology with a 10-foot pole, even though my maternal grandfather (Sidney Bennett) was one of America's prominent astrologers of the early 20th century. I would never read horoscopes in the paper because I thought I'd get sucked into them. In 1990 I had an about-face and claimed my heritage! Astrology is now one of my most fascinating pasttimes.

So who do I now want to infect! Margaret Feinberg, my nephew Nate, and--everyone else has already been taken! BUT, Ruth, Donica and Amy, even though you don't have blogs, you could write down your 5 in my comments, right?! Tag, you're it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Iceman Cometh

Indeed! Atlanta's first "annual" ice storm arrived last night and by 7a today had knocked out the power of some 100,000 0f us in North Georgia. Ours didn't come back on till late this afternoon. Two pine trees from our woods fell by the weight of the ice, I guess: one across our back yard, missing our house by 10 feet; the other across our driveway, leaving a nice challenge for getting in and out until the ole chainsaw comes out. Donica says that will be a fun job for her and Nicholas this weekend when he sleeps over.

In the meantime, how "rotic" (romantic without the 'man') to eat breakfast by candlelight. Like Christmas trees, candles also are quiet and calming. I should light them more often.

Shortly after dawn, I took this shot of the woods from our front door. After looking at it online, I was reminded of how much blue really is in water (which we especially noticed in 1999 when we saw the glaciers in Alaska). For whatever that's worth!

We feel most fortunate to have sustained minimal discomfort from this storm. Others, I'm sure, are still suffering, even as we speak. God have mercy on them all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pieces of the Puzzle

One of my favorite of all pastimes is putting together jigsaw puzzles. We usually have one going at any given time on the dining room table (not used for eating except on special occasions). I like them so much that I subscribe to a daily online puzzle and make it a priority to work it no matter how busy I am. I've convinced myself that it'll keep me from getting Alzheimer's!

But I never had thought of it as a spiritual meditation! Rabbi Rami Shapiro says "Each piece has its place and no other piece can fit that place. Yet no one peice makes sense on its own.... Once a piece is in its proper place, its separateness is surrendered. We know a piece is in its place when it blends with the whole and disappears."

A super challenge is to put a puzzle together without knowing what the picture is. After the border is put together and some sort of logic kicks in, it eventually comes together. The more pieces fit together, the clearer the end picture becomes.

Kinda like Life, right?! Maybe we need to think about those things that truly puzzle us as "spiritual meditations" for the Soul.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Christmas Trees Are So Quiet

As long as I can remember, Christmas trees have calmed me down. I love turning out all the lights except theirs and sitting alone in their stillness. My kids just giggle whenever I exclaim that Christmas trees are so quiet. But they are!

So we have two of them (double quiet for my Gemini twins)! The one in front of the living room windows is the one seen from outside (if you come into our woods, that is) and is the fancy tree with white lights and Walt Disney ornaments. I dreamed up that tree in 1990 after my divorce when I started collecting the ornaments, one at a time, for the grandkids I didn't yet have. Right now, that's 5-yr-old Nicholas! And there's Woody from Toy Story (click to enlarge).

On the back end of the house, dividing the family room from the kitchen, is the slim tree with colored lights and all the ornaments we collect everywhere we go. Memory ornaments!

Now turn off all the other lights and sit still for awhile. Breathe in the quietness for as long as you need it before dashing off again.

Monday, December 12, 2005

First-Raitt Bonnie Blues

Another "Hail to the Crone!" Bonnie Raitt (b.1949) was in concert at Altanta's Tabernacle venue last evening to a sold-out crowd. And we got to hear her! Her story is like so many other musicians who got into drug and alcohol abuse and then came clean, but also unlike others in that she's a nine-time Grammy winner and has just released her 18th album, Souls Alike.

"After this many albums and hundreds of songs," she says, "you want to find new things to say, new ways to say them. For me, one of the most exciting aspects of what I do is hearing some hidden part of myself reflected back in the songs of someone else. It's why that connection to artists we love is so deep. And then the alchemy of the band and I finding a way to make these songs our own—that's what keeps me coming back. Like prisms reflecting back on each other, we're souls alike."
How do you even start to talk about artists like this who have a lifetime of colored, lime-lighted history behind them! Artists who find their Soul and share it on stage with a community of musicians they've attracted to themselves. Artists not selfish with the limelight who have global interests and causes much bigger than themselves.

This is one redheaded Crone who knows how to sing the Blues, whether about the hurricane disaster in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the gas wars, or personal relationships!

(So very Soulful to this redheaded crone who sang along with her.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Blogging Sociology 101

In sociology you study the behaviour of people in different groups and how your own behaviour is affected by society and by day-to-day experiences. It's a subject which helps us understand the world around us better and therefore ourselves as well.

And that's exactly what's happened with me and blogging!

It all started back in October when A Prairie Girl (to give credit where credit it due) "happened" upon my blog and started commenting. By visiting her blog, I was introduced to a new world of like-minded people who were in consistent communication. Through her and her site, I found out about the "sociology" of blogging, in part having to do with patting each other on the back as well as learning about different issues, viewpoints, and Soulful photography.

And from there I've taken off! Which is to say why you now see some sidebar additions here on In Soul! This has been in the works inside of me for some time now and will continue to grow as I figure out HTML and such.

Please welcome and visit those Soulful Blogs and Artists who mentor me. They'll all love to see you because, well, that's what sociology is all about!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas In Hannover: Last(ing) Impressions

Now that I'm back in Atlanta and have published my photo album of last week's Christmas Market in Hannover, I am full of impressions and memories.

It was greetings and lights, meetings and nights of families and friends drinking and eating together in outside wonderment. It was buying and selling, craftsmanship and music, Soul and comedy, children in awe, children playing, swaddled chill and thrill, thought and emotion.

And yes, even Baby Jesus was there. There's been so much fuss these days over the "Christmas Wars" and being politically correct. If you want to get into all that, please see my nephew's post for some excellent dialog. But for me right now, Christmas is all of the above and my posts of the last few days. It's all the stuff that births wonder and merriment and soul, giving and creating holy space for holy-days (Holidays).

Thank you, Hannover. And now it's your turn, Atlanta!