Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Random Thoughts on Fat Tuesday




This is going to shock you (well, maybe not, if you read my last post), but I never knew Mardi Gras in French meant "Fat Tuesday" until September of 2001 when Donica and I spent a week in New Orleans. I never knew it was the day before Ash Wednesday. I never knew it had to do with "living it up before you die!"

First of all (I'll come to my own defense!), I didn't/don't know French. True, Spanish was close enough, which should have helped. But when I think of all the connections I never make on so many other things, I'm not surprised. I frequently tell Donica to never assume I know anything!

Secondly, there was this thing back in my day about how the baptists/protestants threw the baby out with the bath water in relation to Roman Catholicism.

Hang on. Let's save that for tomorrow, Ash Wednesday!

In the meantime, poor New Orleans. Poor Mardi Gras. Poor 9th Ward. Will any of it ever be the same?!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Adult Children of Alcoh Fundamentalism

It occurred to me that it might be helpful to clarify something from yesterday's post on Religious Freedom. So this is for those who have an interest in my Spiritual Journey.

I'm an Adult Child of Fundamentalism.

My dad was a baptist preacher all my life until he passed away 11 years ago. I lived and breathed the church, attending services twice on Sunday and Prayer Meeting on Wednesday evenings. Every week. Add to that our Youth Group meeting before Sunday evening's service, visiting the shut-ins on Sunday afternoons, being part of metro-Lansing's Youth for Christ, including their Bible Quiz program, and our Bible club at school.

While in high school, I heard about Wycliffe Bible Translators ("Why should anyone hear the gospel of Jesus Christ twice before everyone has heard it once!") and made the decision to major in linguistics at the University of Michigan. That began a widening of my world-view because WBT is an interdenominational organization. And while a college student, I was also involved in InterVarsity, another interdenominational group. But both were still Christian in faith and mostly protestant.

After I left a WBT stint in Peru in 1969 in order to marry Bill (whom I had met in InterVarsity at the UofM), and while we were on IV staff for 16 years, I attended several triennial Urbana Missionary Conventions where 18,000 students from all over the world listened to lectures and workshops. Again, my world-view was widening because even though still Christian in faith, I was rubbing shoulders with students and Bible scholars from around the world.

But here's where the kicker comes. I had been gay as long as I could remember (maybe back to a Kindergarten memory) but didn't always know that's what was "wrong" with me. I knew I was different. I knew it was "odd" that I fantasized over the girls in my classes or my female teachers and not the boys. I also knew that it was not something I could talk about, even though I have no clue where that came from. I don't remember hearing my dad ever talk about homosexuality. I do remember that when Mom gave me a medical encyclopedia set back in 1963, homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder. The American Psychological Assoc. did not take it off the disorder list until 1972, the year my daughter was born.

This was a kicker for me because it started my long journey of "recovering" from fundamentalism. If something so basic to who I am at my core has no place--or worse, an unforgiveable place--in my Christian faith, something's gotta give. Either me or my faith.

Interestingly, God was my bedrock during all of it...my questioning, the 4 times of therapy in our 21-year marriage (it's an oxymoron to be gay and Christian, you know, so 3 of the Christian therapists swept it under the rug and figured something else was wrong), being suicidal for 9 months, our divorce in 1990 (when I was 45), the loss of 95% of all my so-called Christian friends and family, the adjustment of my kids to a gay partner, etc.

I knew this was not about God. I knew this was not about ME. It was about a system of belief that, sadly, closes in on itself.

So I guess it would be accurate to say that being gay set me on a journey of wholeness! I owe a lot to Supreme Being who made me exactly who I am, knowing I would be able to eventually run with it. I am not who I was; I am not who I will be. Still very much in process but feeling honored and expectant about this particular "calling" from the Universe. So much more to learn and BE. While Jesus is the Great Teacher of my heritage, I respond soulfully to the Great Teachers of other faiths. I see myself right now as a Christian Native-American Jewish "believer." In time I may add Buddhist and Hindu and Muslim and who knows what else. A world citizen; a world believer.

Cultural and Religious Freedom? Until we can all be who we are, where we are, when we are on our separate journeys, in whatever faith tradition or not, we will never be free of hatred or war or division. The question is, are we up to the task? Each one of us individually needs to make the choice, wherever we're coming from. It's really as simple as that!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Affirming Religious Freedom


This happens every year. I get something in the mail from the Dalai Lama via a letter from Richard Gere. Last year, I got a Tibetan flag decal and actually did a post on it because the symbolism is very appealing to me.


This year I received a tiny 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" bundle of prayer flags strung together into a garland. Before I opened it, I took these photos of the front and back in case I couldn't put it back together again.


After carefully opening the bundle, I spread out these 5 gorgeous flags made from very fine paper. Richard Gere says they're an expression of Tibetan culture and identity.



For 18 years now, The International Campaign for Tibet (of which Richard Gere is Chairman of the Board and a Buddhist) has worked on behalf of human rights and self-determination for the Tibetan people, who cannot speak out for themselves without risking imprisonment, torture and possible death.

This post is not about Buddhism per se. Or the Dalai Lama. Or Richard Gere. Or even of China's occupation of and tyranny over Tibet. This post is about the right for any culture/religion to exist, period!

The mailing I received asked me to affirm Religious Freedom for Tibet by signing and sending the following to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

WHEREAS... The people of Tibet, led by the Dalai Lama, are struggling to maintain a magnificent and spiritual culture on Earth; and,

WHEREAS... The tyranny that has driven more than one hundred thousand Tibetans from their homeland and threatened the existence of Tibetan culture is an affront to all humankind; and,

WHEREAS... Confronting the issue of Tibet is a basic issue of morality, a definining action for human community.

THEREFORE... I affirm my deep commitment to religious and spiritual liberty by calling on you to take immediate and dramatic action to save Tibet's religious and cultural heritage.

There are some things that absolutely outrage me and this is one of them. Why would anyone think it's okay for them to have cultural/religious freedom without allowing it for everyone else! And why in God's name would the existance of another's diminish our own?! This isn't the only place or time. And it's happening closer to home than we think. No wonder our world is so messed up!

God have mercy on us all! PLEASE.

Friday, February 24, 2006

In Memoriam #1



BENNETT WILLIAMS HART
June 28, 1948 - February 24, 1996




Within a time frame of 2 years, 3 of my nuclear family members died. In year-chronology, my dad was first, followed a year later by Bennett, and a year later by Mom. In month/day-chronology, Bennett was first and thus the #1.

Of the 8 kids in my family, Bennett, 3 years my junior, is the only one who has died. Ten years ago today, at age 47, he had a heart attack while cleaning out Mom and Dad's garage in preparation for the selling of their house in Michigan. Dad had just died the year before; Mom was in assisted-living with Alzheimer's. We never told Mom that Bennett had died but just before his funeral, she went up to one of his photos hanging on her wall and patted it with her hand as though she knew. Maybe she did!

Bennett was the only one of us who had never married or had children. He was, for me, a good mix of bohemian and renaissance man, as seen mostly in his photography. And talk about a perfectionist! Though he taught photography at Lansing Community College and had his own dark room and mat-making equipment for his professional photos shown around town, he could always give you a reason why any given photo could have been improved (I guess I come by it naturally!).

Last Friday, Merlin Princess was explaining to me the difference between solarization and posterization in a post. I told her that I was familiar with posterization because Bennett played around with it in his lab, putting layers of color through his negatives like silk-screening. We always loved seeing what he'd come up with.

But it was his scenic photos while traveling around as a senior-citizen tour bus-driver/guide that captured my heart. He loved Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!) and Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia. Or Jerusalem, when he went one year with Mom and Dad. He was the expert at capturing the right angle or correct light. I wonder, of course, what he'd do today with all our digital cameras. And would he be blogging? He had his own special community of like-minded souls at his neighborhood tavern, talking and drinking into the wee hours of the night, so maybe he wouldn't have needed to blog.



His other interest, besides photography, was community theatre. I regret, however, that I never had a chance to see him act. All I have are the pictures. He was one of the townsmen in Fiddler On the Roof. What a great play for him because he certainly looked the part, didn't he! (What you DON'T see is that his hair was carrot red!)





Here's a neat little story to go with the one photo of his that will always remain my favorite. He had taken a picture of this grasshopper at sunrise/sunset (how appropriate for Fiddler On the Roof...a connection I just now made!) with the appropriate colors coming through (which did not do well in my scan so I have grayscaled it). The day of his funeral, which was on his property where he was building a log cabin, my sister Ruth and her husband looked down at the grass and noticed a grasshopper sitting on a blade of grass. There he was, with us in Spirit!

And remains so today as we celebrate his life amongst us. I love you, Bennett. Little did you know then that your photography would one day inspire me. But I guess you know by now! I know you're resting in peace, just as restlessly as ever, I'm sure. Say HI to Mom and Dad, who'll have their own memoriams in the next days to come....



Thursday, February 23, 2006

Curse Against Book Stealers

There are those rare, serendipitous times when something or someone comes to you from out of the blue and BINGO. Your life is suddenly enriched and never quite the same again. The chance of this happening in the Blogger World has multiplied exponentially for me, it seems, in the last few months. You know who you are. We've become such a nice MAS (Mutual Admiration Society).

Hannover sidewalk shop, 2005

So, here's a new introduction: DreamWalker (aka Waking Wolf) from Auckland, New Zealand, originally from Cape Town, South Africa. She found me first by simply clicking "the next blog." And now I'm finding her, having added her blog, The Art of Losing, to my sidebar. Anyone who is an Extreme Searcher is right up my alley!

Okay then. Here's where the Book Stealers come in. She works in the local library and sent me this most wonderful quote and gave me permission to use it here on my blog:


"For him that stealeth a Book from this Library,
let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him.
Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his Members blasted.
Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no sur-cease to his Agony till he sink in Dissolution.
Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye."
— Curse Against Book Stealers
Monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona

As curses go, can you get any better than that?! Clo, our Antique Bookseller, will like that. As will all you avid book readers.

Now segue to a new concept for all us book readers. BookCrossing:
n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. How cool is that! Kinda gives book stealers a new lease on life, right! Hmm. I'll have to seriously think about that concept. I think it's a good one...if I can find the right context for me as a retired woman....

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's About Time!

Last Friday my friend, Peggy, and I met for our monthly lunch at Never Enough Thyme, a new little strip-mall restaurant for both of us. Ironically, even though we were there 10 minutes after they were supposed to be open, and were clearly visible to the workers inside, no one acknowledged our presence or even explained why they weren't opening their doors yet. So we took leave and found another place much more accommodating.




That started me thinking about Time. We chose that restaurant because we both loved the play on words. Anyone in advertising who is clever enough to come up with these delightful names is worth every penny they make, I'm sure. "It's About Time," for instance, is a watch store. I love it, the play on words.







We usually start with "Once upon a time" and expect to hear some delightful story of something that happened way back when.



But if time stood still, what would happen to the story and where would it be in the scheme of things? If time has come, does that mean it stopped standing still and progressed forward, so now we can continue the story, thank you very much!




Time will tell
, they say. And does that happen every time, I wonder. Or only when it's time. Or maybe in its own time. It usually feels like it's not fast enough and then suddenly, in the nick of time, it's in time or on time after all, making believers out of us. Just in time.












Somewhere in time
is where? Or when? Have you ever wondered? If time is eternal, does it really have a beginning or an end. In the beginning of time and at the end of time become a giant loop, I guess, and you never know if you're coming or going. Right?









Or maybe it's just that the timing is off. Maybe I didn't have time. Or if I had more time I could have figured it all out. The last time wasn't like that at all. Hopefully this time will work out better and certainly by the next time, it'll be a cinch. It really doesn't matter what IT is because time will tell.









One would hope we'll have plenty of time for these shenanigans in case time runs out. Don't you just hate it when someone important says "Time's up!" Why don't they say it's down, because that's exactly what you're feeling at that particular moment in time.



"Time out," you say? Why? Do you think you can step out of time as though it doesn't exist any more? And if you could, where would you be? And would looking at your timepiece help you out? HELLO! Where are you?! (There's never enough time for this kinda stuff, is there.)






Btw, what time is it anyway! I have a sneaking suspicion it's time to go. Unless, that is, you have the time of day to pound this one a bit more into the ground. If so, please add your timely two-cents' worth in a comment and I'm sure we'll all be much obliged!

[Time out: in order of appearance (but not in chronological time as far as our trips are concerned from last year), the above timepieces, ziggaging from the top left down, are from Prague, Prague, Hannover, Hamburg, Lübeck, Celle and Prague.]

********************
Addendum: Here are some more from/after comments: good use of time, time flies when you're having fun, time goes by, still enough time, time machine, long time passing, a long time ago, time frame, time warp, I don't have any time, in the meantime, wish I had more time....

Monday, February 20, 2006

Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic Soul-Infusion

First of all, I know well enough by now that whenever I talk about my Soul I should keep my damn mouth shut! There's no way to give this justice.


Dwight Carter Photo

Rather than rewrite the Sweet Honey In the Rock (SWIR) bio, I'll let you read the one I did a year ago here. For now, I want to describe a bit more of what it is that makes this annual "soul fix" so unforgettable. They come every year to Sisters Chapel at Spelman College here in Atlanta as a benefit concert for the Fund for Southern Communities (FSC). This was their 14th year and our 7th time to hear them together.

To benefit something, of course, means to have like-minded goals and convictions. So to talk about SHIR is to talk about the FSC and vice versa. They're hand-in-glove to each other because of what they represent. The FSC "supports small community groups working for environmental justice, anti-racism, women's rights, youth development, LGBTQ rights, worker's rights, civil rights and disability rights and other varied issues that address social change through community organizing." As their motto says, they work for "Change, Not Charity."


Every year, the concert honors a Torch Bearer who represents the ideals of the FSC for social justice. This year it was Pearl Cleage, American poet, essayist, journalist and author of 5 novels, one of which was an Oprah Book Club pick (What Looks Like Crazy On an Ordinary Day). Some of her work is performed at theatres throughout the country. She lives with her husband here in Atlanta and considers themselves to be citizens of the world. And after the concert she graciously allowed me to take this photo. To be in the presence of women like her who fight for justice is Soulful in an of itself.

Every year tears well up in my eyes the minute SWIR opens their mouths to sing their 5-part harmonies a cappella. Visually they're a sight to behold because they make their own ornate and colorful "traditional" outfits (two per concert). A feast for the eyes. The sound that accompanies that and the free movements of their bodies throughout the concert as they dance to their rhythms--that's where my Soul is infused. If I ever could pick a time to "pass over," that would be one of them.

The group brings to mind the 1992 movie White Men Can't Jump. A choral musician told me once that the vocal cords of African Americans are physically different from us white people. They can do things vocally that few others can do (t
wo of the ladies, for instance, have a 2-3-octave range). I believe it. And I want them to have that honor. They deserve it!

Ironically, Saturday morning before the concert Donica and I were talking about balance in our lives. It's so easy to get caught up in our own ego-centric world without being mindful of all the injustice, pain and suffering going on all around us. I hate the crap going on with our man-made wars, the hurricane-relief ineptiude, the governmental b-s, injustice on so many levels everywhere. Is my one, small voice loud enough to rise above this fray? I pray so....

Anyway, if you ever need a kick in the pants, and you hear about Sweet Honey coming anywhere near you...or some such group that infuses your Soul with perspective, GO. We need a new earth, a new consciousness, a new enlightenment (ha, I'm also reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, but that's another post).

"Get up, go out and agitate."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The RB and B & B Circus


They advertise themselves as The Greatest Show on Earth: the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. According to Wiki, "It currently is the largest and most successful of the remaining American circuses, performing continuously since 1871." And yes, it has three rings.








A week ago we took Nicholas (and Amy), as we had two years ago when he was 3. We knew this year would be more spectacular for him at age 5-1/2. More engaged, of course, and in total awe. That look on his face was worth every minute. I didn't see my first circus until high school. So taking him early was important to me.






Everything about this circus is fun and hilarious if it has anything at all to do with Bello, "America's best clown," according to Time magazine. Kinda hard not to laugh at anyone with that kind of "do." I sat there for a long time trying to figure out what he has to put in it to keep it in that shape no matter what acrobatic stunts he does. That's a LOT of hair taffy! No wonder he lives on the edge, he says, 20 times a show.







You know, even the simplest of stunts are amazing. I remember my hula-hoop days when it was easy to keep ONE spinning around my hips for what seemed like forever. But 20 or 30 of them at a time spinning everywhere at once? A big blur! A big full-of-color blur! It doesn't take much to make me happy.











Actually, as far as I'm concerned, this is NOT the greatest show on earth. For me, Canada's Cirque du Soleil is, which is kinda a circus without animals. But the acrobatic parts of this circus remind me of that and why children of all ages are in awe. How people can make their bodies do those incredible feats is beyond me.



Still, it's the animals that make the circus the circus, even though I always wonder if they're having as much fun as we are! It's like I need a disclaimer somewhere that says no animals were hurt or harmed in any way during this production. Surely not!



After the show, we asked Nicholas what his favorite thing was. He immediately said his sword (the toy he chose--you need to understand that Donica is the "sugar g'ma!"). But when we clarified what we meant, he said, "The people on the trapeze." Well, guess what! Of everything I took pictures of, there was not a single photo of THEM! I must have been too mesmerized to even think about it. However, this wee tightrope act near us was at least a step in the right direction. (Okay, close but no cigar.)



Speaking of Cirque du Soleil, Donica just bought us tickets for their "Delirium" show here in Atlanta in April. I can hardly wait till Nicholas is old enough for that. Maybe sooner than we think!?! But for now, here's my circus album of a wonderful evening with RB and B&B. The last two photos are of two tired babies (Nicholas and moi) after a great night of awe.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

This Bud's for YOU


Mind you, it was just over a week ago that I de-frocked our two Christmas trees (don't laugh--I made it before my Valentine's Day deadline). And it was just this past Sunday when the East Coast was deluged with snow and Atlanta was in the low 30's with light, lazy snow falling all day (but not sticking).

On Monday, the very next day, I went to Nicholas' Sweetheart Valentine's Luncheon (still in the low 30's) and did a complete about-face when I saw this tree near the school. I actually got out of the car to take pictures. Was I blind? This was the first above-ground sight of Spring I had seen since coming back home from Hannover at the beginning of February.

I say above-ground because we had already seen the early Spring flowers starting to bare their shoots. Yesterday I took a walk and saw these daffodils.



On the same walk, I saw this kite stuck in the tree. Surely it wasn't left over from last year, so someone has definitely had Spring on their mind. And it's not even March!



And just feet away, a new house is being built. A sure sign of Spring around here. Temps are now up in the 50's-60's (no wonder we get sick!), which will make the trees and flowers and birds and bees think it's time to do their thing.



So for everyone still in the wintry blues and while the Olympics continue, this Bud's for YOU (on its last leg, I see)! I'll drink my Amstel Light to that!



Wednesday, February 15, 2006

For V-Day Bah-Humbuggers Everywhere


Yesterday as I read through all the blogs about Valentine's Day, my heart was broken. Actually, I didn't need to read your posts to know there are broken hearts everywhere, more raw and bleeding on February 14th than perhaps any other day. All it takes is one sad, lonely heart to dispel, as it were, the happiness of the rest of us. Especially if that anguished heart is your daughter's. She who has been a single mom for 4 years now after 5 years of marriage. She who is lonely, longing for relationship again. She who dreaded seeing the roses and chocolates arriving for everyone else but her.

So this is her story. This is her raw and bleeding heart "salved" on V-Day by an unexpected act of unconditional love and kindness.



It started over a week ago when Amy's dad called a co-worker and arranged an 11:30a "meeting" at her company yesterday, totally unbeknownst to her. Helen, the co-worker, told Amy she needed to meet with her on Tuesday and would call her later with more details. So at 11:30a yesterday, Helen called Amy and asked her to meet her downstairs in one of the conference rooms. When Amy walked off the elevator, there was Helen, standing with this tuxedoed quartet...who then proceeded to sing two valentine/love songs to Amy.

Amy, who is very poised and put-together in her work environment, totally lost it and started crying. That started her dad crying...while everyone else in the company, looking down over the atrium's balconies or standing in the lobby, was smiling and loving every minute.



Amy's dad (my ex-husband of 21 years) happens to sing in an all-male barber-shop choir, whose director happens to be female. As an act of kindness and surprise, the choir split up into quartets and went all around Atlanta yesterday, singing to select people. Bill's quartet just happened to include their female director. And here they are, with Amy standing next to her dad, both of whom finally composed themselves.

Amy called me immediately afterwards and told me the story, shaking and crying over the phone. I was sure something tragic had just happened. No, nothing tragic. But something incredibly earth-shaking for her. Later this is what she said: "At the end of the day I realized that what I had experienced earlier was love in its purest form -- unconditional, no games, no questions, no motives. And I have to say it put everything else that's going on in my life in perspective!"

And I was thinking: little by little we need to change what happens on V-Day, or at least how people see it. We don't have to subscribe to the commercialism, even if we can't or don't want to change that aspect of it. As different ones of you have said, it's the little acts of kindness that we do for each other every day of the year that really matters. And maybe on V-Day we just get a bit more creative! And it's not just about romantic love (which, as we know, can be so fleeting and hard to sustain). It's about g'mas and their grandkids, or dads and their lonely daughters, or you fill in the blank.

Guess maybe our consciousness needs tweaking so that we can start enlightening the world around us. One Valentine's Day at a time!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Over Both Ears In Love

My German page-a-day calendar phrase today, Valentine's Day, is: Sie sind bis über beide Ohren verliebt. They fell madly in love. Literally: They are over both ears in love.



Yesterday I got to be Nicholas' sweetheart at his school's Sweetheart Candlelight Luncheon. This is a big deal at his elementary school and because of all the kids, they're spreading the luncheon across 3 days. Our day was yesterday. And I was the one he chose to be his sweetheart (since Mommy and Daddy were at work). Awww. How cute. Good food. Good "electric" candlelight, and even good string music by the nearby high school chamber orchestra.

What a memory. Over both ears in love!



Truth be known, Nicholas' real sweetheart is his mommy. And he wouldn't blink an eye in telling you so. He's always and forever wanting to buy her flowers...when she's sick, when she's sad, when she's celebrating, when it's Valentine's Day. He's gonna make some woman (besides us) a very happy lady one day.

In the meantime, on this special Heart Day, I hope we all have at least one Valentine about whom we can say we're over both ears in love. And not just for one day.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Let Us Break Bread Together


Almost everything this past weekend revolved around our two-watched Nicholas and eating!


First, we ate supper before the circus on Friday night. Then during the circus, of course, we had to have a treat, which three of us ate off of!



Saturday night, when Nicholas was here for an overnight, we went out for Mexican, our favorite. When we woke up on Sunday morning, we went to Waffle House, as per our little grandmas-and-grandson tradition. (Sometimes more of the milk gets drunk if Grandma helps out!)







Not long after breakfast, we went to see Curious George at the theater and all ate the prerequisite popcorn. I told Donica we were making up for lost time. We really missed him when we were in Hannover for the month of January!

But that's not the whole of it when it comes to eating over the weekend! Before the circus on Friday, I rendezvoused down near the Atlanta airport with a long, lost friend from Pasadena days. We calculated that it had been 23 years since we had last seen each other and then spent 3 hours catching up, most of it over lunch.

After we took Nicholas home on Sunday, Donica and I went to see Mrs. Henderson Presents (the incredible Dame Judi Dench!) in another theater and followed it up with a wonderful Thai supper, just the two of us.

What is it about eating together! We have to eat, of course, but what happens when we do it together?! Sometimes people are shocked when they hear that during my growing-up days in Michigan, all 10 of us in my family ate supper together, sitting down! Every night! And on weekends, we also ate lunch together.

I'm reminded of the Negro spiritual we sang back then:

Let us break bread together on our knees,
let us break bread together on our knees.
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.

Let us drink wine together on our knees,
let us drink wine together on our knees.
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.

For the slaves, this was a liberation song. A song that hinted at justice to come when all would sit down and eat together. No more suffering. No more struggle. No more injustice.

Have you noticed how often we bloggers talk about food? The photos of it, the recipes, the descriptions of meals together. The "drooling" comments! I 'spect it has much more to do than with filling our hunger cravings, don't you! It's like there's something "eucharistic" about it...breaking bread and drinking wine.

But the key word, I think, is TOGETHER! Let's keep doing it...and doing it well, with tradition, pomp and circumstance, and fun.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Too Two-Watched




Last night we took Nicholas to the circus (coming soon to a theater post near you), before which we ate supper. As we waited for our food, and he colored, I almost burst out laughing when I saw his two watches. Amy says he's been putting both of them on each day.

So I started thinking. Can any child nowadays be too watched? We certainly know there are plenty of kids who aren't watched enough, either by their parents or teachers or "villages." There are also some who are over-protected, shielded from anything or everything that can possibly be construed as harmful.

I'd like to think Nicholas has a well-balanced watchfulness 'round and about him. From everyone who cares about him, including us g'mas.

For sure, he is one two-watched child, deeply loved and cherished. Oh that all children everywhere were so protected and watched!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Full Circle


There are those rare times in life--maybe after you've lived long enough--when something from your past comes around again full circle.

The End of the Spear movie, currently in theaters here in the States, is one such time. I went to see it Tuesday and wanted to bawl like a baby.


(Click image for movie site)

It started for me in January, 1956, 50 years ago, when the the world was shocked by the story of the 5 missionaries martyred by the spears of Auca indians in Ecuador. What an impression on an 11-year-old girl! During the following years, as I went into junior high and then high school, Elisabeth Elliot's book, The Savage My Kinsman, captured my heart. She was one of the widows and told the story. It became early inspiration for my aspiration to work as a missionary-linguist amongst indigenous indians in Peru. Wycliffe Bible Translators was the forum I chose for that heart-cry, back when I was 24.

It's a long time since those days! So much has changed for me...and them. In fact, the Aucas are now called the Waodanis. And though once so savage they were "extincting" themselves, today they thrive, and now even have grandfathers, something they didn't have 50 years ago. It's a marvelous story of redemption. Of how one of the widows (Elisabeth Elliot) and a sister (Rachel Saint) went back to face the ones who had killed their loved ones, believing there was a way for forgiveness and transformation.

I have said many times that transformation is possible but rare. People often don't have what it takes to do the hard work. Or they're not willing to dance the Dance. It takes two to dance. The Waodanis were confronted by their actions (you can read the story for yourself or see the movie) and responded to those who helped them learn the Dance. Thus it has become one of the greatest stories of all time!

Now, if only we could get the rest of our present world to lay down their spears and find a different way to resolve their (perceived) differences! Countries learning to dance together. Wouldn't that be the day!

And we'd eventually have a 50th-anniversary movie to remind us!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Her Skin Died but Not Her Spirit


Coretta Scott King

April 27, 1927 - January 30, 2006


John Bazemore / AP

Last Saturday she lay in state at our Georgia's state Capitol here in Atlanta, the first-ever woman and the first-ever African American to do so.

Yesterday we laid her to rest here in Atlanta after a 6-hour service. Four U.S. Presidents were among those who gave their eulogies.

From President Bush:
"Americans knew her husband only as a young man. We knew Mrs. King in all the seasons of her life. And there was beauty and dignity in every season." He added, "By going forward with a strong and forgiving heart, Coretta Scott King not only secured her husband's legacy, she built her own. Having loved a leader, she became a leader."

From President Clinton: "I don't want us to forget that there's a woman in there," Mr. Clinton said, pointing to Mrs. King's coffin. "Not a symbol, a real woman who lived and breathed and got angry and got hurt and had dreams and disappointments."

Pink was her favorite color.

Amy told me this morning that completely and totally out of the blue last night, Nicholas (age 5-1/2) started crying and told her he didn't want her to die. He then added that he didn't want anyone in his family to die. As Amy tried to console him, she asked him if he'd been talking to someone (like at school?) about this? He said, "No. This is just something I know and I'm telling you that I know."

Then he added the kicker, "The skin dies, but the spirit never dies!"

I'm guessing the TV was on the service at his daycare after school. I'm guessing they talked about death and dying. I'm guessing all the kids went home to their parents and said "I don't want you to die!"

This is Black History Month when we always get our Sweet Honey In the Rock fix. Coretta Scott King always attended whenever she could, year after year, so we not only got our music fix, we got our history-before-our-eyes fix.

This year,
on February 18, we will miss your skin, dear Lady, but all eyes will watch as your Spirit finds your seat.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Raggedy Ann





Like the Velveteen Rabbit, this is one very-loved Raggedy Ann! We gave her to Amy at her first birthday, so she's 32+ years old right now.

I don't remember when she came to live with us...maybe when Amy went off to college and didn't have a place for her in her own house once grown up. So now she lives in safe-keeping at our home in this antique highchair, a reminder of days gone by and lots of lovin'.









There she is when she had her long hair and was itching to be loved to death. Amy, btw, is the one on the right, at her first birthday party in San Diego, CA. See how fresh and perky Miss Raggedy Ann is for her!

Today she's not quite so perky without her pinafore but she smiles just as broadly and loves just as much. Nothing seems to faze her as Life passes her by. It's just her hair, getting thinner and a bit more unruly.



Which is why I write of her today: after a month being overdue (because of two flight changes on our last Germany trip), I'm off now to get my hair cut. Talk about "raggedy!" And reverse Raggedy Ann--needing to go from long to short instead of vice versa. But you get the point.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I HEART HART Latte Macchiato

First, I must say I am not a coffee drinker. Well, let me rephrase that: I am not a CAFFEINE drinker. Coffee, pop or whatever.

Up until last year (read Germany), I was a "fetish" decaf drinker of Caffe D'Vita's Irish Cream 99.7% caffeine-free instant coffee. In fact, I buy a case of 6 canisters 2 times a year and drink a thermal mug of it every morning with breakfast. I actually ration it out like that, with one canister lasting a month. If you can be addicted to decaf, I'm addicted. But it's THIS decaf and THIS flavor I'm addicted to (and all it's ungodly additives, I'm sure). For years.

Now, fast forward to Germany this past year and being introduced to real coffee!

I'm now addicted to Latte Macchiato (ask Christina!), both caffeine and decaf. It's everything about it: the glass it comes in (as varied as the different places we go), the color, the steamed milk, the foam, the bubbles. I can't get enough of it. And I treat it as my last-dying friend. In fact, our last night in Hannover we drink it with our traditional "good-bye" ice cream from our neighborhood Eiscafe. And if we have a wait, we drink it at the airport before our flight. Ahhh. A new addiction (no, I haven't given up my Caffe D'Vita).

Wouldn't you know, speaking of the airport, last Friday the nice lady added this heart to my glass. I was starting to stir it up before it caught my attention. Actually, Donica mentioned it first, and I realized this was a photo waiting to happen.

Yes, indeed. I HART latte macchiato. What a simple pleasure. May it live forever!


Sunday, February 05, 2006

We Owe Her!

"Betty Friedan, the feminist crusader and author whose searing first book, "The Feminine Mystique," ignited the contemporary women's movement in 1963 and as a result permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world, died yesterday, her 85th birthday, at her home in Washington. The cause was congestive heart failure." (NY Times, photo by Sophie Bassouls/Corbis Sygma)

That book was published the year I graduated from high school and did change the horizon for women. She was the one who asserted that having a husband and babies was not everything and that women should aspire to having their own separate identities as individuals. To not feel guilty about asking "Who am I, and what do I want out of life?"

I was too close to it at the time and way too young but I saw with my own eyes the inklings of change in our society towards how we view women. Besides the effect of women's right to vote from the generation before mine (my mom's!), this was the beginning of another emancipation that is still in progress: improving the status of women and women's lives around the world. And doing this while remaining in the mainstream, with men accepted as allies and the family not rejected.

What a legacy, Betty Naomi Goldstein Friedan! You are our philosopher and voice of "modern-day feminism." We salute you. We thank you.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Typoglycemia

When I fly, I read, and was able to totally catch up on my last issue of Spirituality & Health on yesterday's flight home. I "soul" that bimonthly magazine. It's not a light-hearted read, in the sense that you can't really read it quickly.

But not that it's always heavy either. Take this fun exercise I found in the corner of a page: "Typoglycemia: Believe it or Not, You Can Read this:"

"I cdn'uolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg: the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rsceearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Such a cdonition is arppoiatrely cllaed Typoglycemia :)-

Amzanig huh? Yaeh and you awlyas thguoht slpeling was ipmorantt."

Now that I'm home, I've done a Wiki on it and have discovered that "In actual fact, no such research was carried out at Cambridge University. It all started with a letter to the New Scientist magazine from Graham Rawlinson in which he discusses his PhD thesis. For more on that, click here. The gist is that "we only need the first and last two letetrs to spot chganes in meniang."

Does this mean that spelling really isn't as important as all our teachers cracked it up to be!

As a linguist by education, this
has amused and amazed me. What intrigues me now, for those of you whose Mother Tongue is NOT English, is if the above exercise was just as easy for you as for the rest of us?? Pray tell.

Friday, February 03, 2006

From Hannover to Atlanta Today


Yup, it's that time again, after almost 4 weeks here in Hannover. Time to go back home and see my kids and grandson, Nicholas, and Donica's family. We miss them all! And time for Donica to see if all is well on the western front.

While we fly the friendly skies (United doesn't have a monopoly!), I thought you'd get a kick out of this photo from Worth1000.com that my older, Presbyterian-ordained brother sent me. It's the entry entitled "Big Step" by Harry122. Do me a favor and click on the link while I'm flying through the sky.

The joke is on me!

Then, assuming we land in Atlanta just fine, I'll be in the mas o menos same time zone as the rest of you for awhile! Donica will probably return to Hannover this month for a shorter trip, without me. I'm guessing I'll be back in March sometime. Virtually, of course, it doesn't matter. So back at you again soon!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Synchronizing Ruth

It's time for introductions! Meet my kid sister, Ruth, and her barely two-week-old blog, Synchronizing. I'm so proud of her I could pop all my buttons!

Here's the scoop. She's the youngest of us 8 kids, and, along with Nelson, the oldest, became the bread that sandwiched the middle 3 girls followed by 3 boys. Mom had all 8 of us in 14 years! I was 11 when Ruth was born and have memories of feeding her her bottle and rocking her to sleep at night.

That means when I went to the University of Michigan at age 18, leaving home from that point on, Ruth was only 7! That's another way of saying I never knew Ruth as a sister growing up, per se, but as a friend in later years, once she too became an adult. I was in the middle of my other 2 sisters, one who was 2 years older and one who was a year younger. THEY were sisters. Ruth was not.

Look at her now! In many ways, she's everything I'm not when it comes to glamour, style and chic. The above hat, btw, was a gift she bought for her musician son, Peter, while we were in Paris last spring. She wore it the rest of the day as though it were hers (with my insistence!). The ring she bought for her artist daughter was so Lesley!


Speaking of Paris! It just happens to be her favorite city in the world and because of that, Donica and I asked her to be our tour guide when we went there our first time in 2004. She worked her itinerary butt off for us and made it a memory we'll never forget.

So last April, Donica threw the birthday party of the decade in Paris for Ruth's husband, Don, who was turning 50, and for me, turning 60. I was the only one who was totally surprised (didn't even know where we would eventually end up when Donica put me on the plane from Hannover to Paris). Ruth and Donica were along for the ride, and, talk about a birthday celebration!








Here's the 2 birthday kids, sandwiching the Synchronizing Ruth. This time she's the middle and not one of the ends.

You're starting to get the picture, I'm sure. Of all the 8 kids, Ruth and I have a connection! It's probably as simple and as complicated as our personalities and what we like. Even our differences, like gourmet food. I used to be one of those people who'd rather spend money on a good book than good food. Thanks to both Ruth and Donica, that's changing. Ruth not only likes good food, she draws poetry and philosophy out of its ingredients. Like it were a part of heaven. (That's why she loves Babette's Feast, for instance!)








So, yes, Ruth. Thanks to you I am discovering what there is of Heaven in the everyday simplest of things. Ice cream--well, I can't give you credit for that. That just came to me quite naturally, I'm sure!











But as you will see, when you see her blog, it's the way she thinks! She is the Academic Specialist/Adviser of the English Department at Michigan State University (I forgive her, of course, for also graduating from there :). I love that she's a philosopher, a thinker, a believer, a questioner. She is constantly inspiring me to go above and beyond what I'm thinking/believing/doing at any given moment.

In fact, her blog in less than 2 weeks has done more than what my blog has done in a year...iron sharpening iron. She is my hero, my inspiration, my sister-friend. I didn't know how much I needed her until she came.

Thank you, Ruth. I echo your own words:

This moment is eternal. This moment is the only “place” life exists. My desire is to be aware, be conscious of the layers and dimensions of meaning, to understand myself and truth without being confined to a context of tribe, religion, politics, and other structures in our culture. I want to live life. I want to be. My posts may not always address this desire, but they will always be in the context of this desire. This moment is where all the details happen, in synchrony.

Talk about Soulful! Do yourself a favor and visit her "on me!" In August she'll celebrate her BIG 5-0 "round birthday" (ein runder Geburstag). I can hardly wait.

[Remember when Merlin Princess introduced us to her sister, Clo, not too long ago? Anyone else out there with blogger sisters/brothers we need to be introduced to?]