Sunday, April 26, 2009

Barefoot Gratefuls

149. Dipping my toes in the ocean.

150. Dipping my toes in the ocean with friends.

151. Being still. Reflecting. Listening. Seeing. Responding.

152. Warmth.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Do something (Part 2)

I wrote this back in October. I watched a video that reminded me of it today.

I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I live in a wealthy suburb. I go to a wealthy church. I can choose to keep myself separate, sheltered from the ugly reality of poverty and starvation. I can do that easily. I can close this draft because it's hard for me to write when I am uncomfortable with myself. I'm not going to. This is going to come out choppy and awkward and I don't care.

You can click away right now, but I hope you won't.

I want to know. I want to help when I can. Here's a way I can do something.

I read Licia's Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center blog. It's hard sometimes. The pictures and stories of real people that they minister to are brutal and beautiful and they make me want to weep. I am amazed by the work they do.

Licia linked today to a video on her sister Lori's blog that I hope you'll watch to the end.

Listen to their dad.

Listen and do something.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Couple of Weeks of Gratefuls

137. Being included in the Wedding Hoopla.

138. Wedding.

139. The word hoopla.

140. Some answers to Steve's dietary issues.

141. Safe travel. Mo had an awesome experience in England.

142. Good news for El. She gets to play her oboe in the high school orchestra next year.

143. Prayer as an alternative to worry in the middle of the night.

144. An idea as an immediate answer to prayer.

145. The color green.

146. The color green after the rain.

147. Images in the words before and after "winter unfrozen" in this song:

148. (Re)Learning things. Learning to embed video (again). Though you may not be grateful I (re)learned it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Columbine Pensieve

My friend Star at Laughing Through Parenting wrote her memories of Columbine this morning. Her thoughts and pictures took me back to that day ten years ago. I remembered some things that I had forgotten, so I am pulling them out of my head for you. Here they are: my silver strands of memory to add to the Pensieve...

Stefanie drove out of the Denver Seminary parking lot just before noon, turning right onto University, heading toward work. She didn't like the song on the radio, so she clicked over to the next station.

A panicked female voice described the unthinkable. Students with guns, dead bodies, confusion. Where? The voice sounded so young.

Stefanie heard sirens.

She turned right on Hampden, listening intently, teary eyed, tight throated, hearing the words: Columbine High School, guns, library, now. The words pounding again and again, different voices, the same shock.

She wondered whether she should turn around and go home, but decided to go anyway. Ami lived just a couple miles from Columbine. Ami was in the middle stages of Alzheimer's and Stefanie was her companion a few afternoons a week.

Another woman lived with Ami; between the two of them and Ami's daughter, they were able to give Ami more time to live at home. They kept Ami fed, and dressed, and accounted for. Ami was dearly loved.

When Stefanie arrived, Ami made it clear that she wanted to go out. Stefanie and the other woman used code language to agree that Ami did not need to hear what was everywhere on the news. Ami 'put her head on' - she put on her wig - and they went out for ice cream.

Stefanie was briefly thankful that Ami's hearing and awareness was not what it used to be. Even the ice cream parlor was hushed. The owner and a couple of customers and Stefanie strained to hear the news on the radio.

Every face registered shock. Grief. Disbelief. Ami was blissfully unaware. Ami finished her ice cream.

Ami mentioned the sirens.

Stefanie's older daughter was in Kindergarten. All the local schools were in 'Lock-down'. Stefanie was glad that her daughter was also blissfully unaware of the day's events when she got home.

Stefanie and Steve decided not to watch any news coverage with their kids. They explained what they thought the kids needed to know, and left out the details.

After the kids went to bed, Stefanie did watch the news.

Many, too many, images burned into memory. One in particular.

A stream of terrified kids running from the school. A young girl wearing a tee-shirt imprinted with one word, "LOVE".

Stefanie did not know any families directly affected. She had friends who knew and ministered to kids who had been there, and heard second-hand stories of terror and miracles.

One to avoid crowds, she accommodated her daughter's need to add flowers and her own note to the makeshift memorial at the park near the school. They added their offering to the thousands of flowers, stuffed animals, notes written by children and teens and adults.

She was a participant, a witness to the community's outpouring of grief, love, and forgiveness. It seemed to stretch on for miles.

A couple weeks later, Stefanie stood in line at Michael's craft store. The clerk described a return she'd had to process. A mother had returned graduation party supplies. Her child did not make it to graduation.

Those are just my memories -- I was just a member of the community somewhat near Columbine High School. I have no perspective of it's long-term impact. We moved away a couple months later.

My kids have grown up and now attend schools that get the occasional bomb threat. My daughter arrived in England in the middle of the security nightmare surrounding the G20 Summit. There are registered sex offenders in my community. The world holds it's dangers, but I will not live in fear.

I will do what Al Velasquez says to do in this video: I will spend time with my kids. Today.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


We've enjoyed the Portuguese Water Dog press over the last few months. Caspian, our PWD, is nearly five years old. He looks a lot like Bobama, and frankly, Caspian still acts like him.

He is a puppy at heart. Still. A 60 pound puppy.

Caspian likes people food. He can open closed doors. He counter surfs if we are not vigilant. Caspian especially loves chocolate.

Let's review the last couple of weeks.

When Mo got home from England, she brought Cadbury eggs, Dairy Milk caramels, and Eclairs. She introduced us to Winegums. That night, Caspian jumped the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and helped himself to a few Cadbury eggs. Wrappers and all. Now, the baby gate has been a satisfactory deterrent for him in the past. He'd been terrified of the gate ever since that time it fell down and scared him. We've left the gate at the bottom of the stairs for years to keep him upstairs while we sleep. Understand he has always been physically able to jump the gate, but kept his distance. The gate has not been so scary lately. The right stimulus will override his fear of the gate. Cadbury eggs are no longer safe at night.

The following night we had friends over to watch Lost, and we were sharing the rest of the candy with them. We went to the basement to watch the show. Partway through, it occurred to me that I hadn't seen the dog in a while. He was in the kitchen, polishing off the candy. Winegums, gone. Eclairs, gone. Wrappers and all. Caramels, well, he hadn't gotten many of them out of the package. Some were saved for the humans.

We told the girls on Easter that they should not keep their candy in their rooms. Monday, I heard Caspian open El's door. Yes, Caspian can open closed doors, given the right incentive. One pound chocolate bunnies are the right incentive. By the time I got upstairs, all that was left was a small chunk of bunny on the carpet. Caspian was doing his best impression of a snake swallowing it's prey whole. I half-heartedly told him to 'drop it', knowing that even if he wanted to obey and 'drop it', there was no physical possibility.

So, in case you haven't been able to keep track, he has consumed massive quantities of chocolate, wrappers, and foil. All of these are potentially lethal for dogs. Not ours, apparently. They have passed through just fine, and we all have seen the evidence to prove it.

I'm happy to report he does not have a taste for couches. Apparently, they do not carry the right stimulus package.

As an aside, I highly recommend a 'gentle leader' so that the Obama girls don't end up doing a face plant on national tv while out walking Bo. Caspian is a completely different dog when we have command of his head.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

very, very, very good advice needed, really

I'm not a very good writer.

I read good writers and I recognize good writing. Good writing carries me to the next sentence, to the next chapter, to the last page. Good writing leaves me hungry for more. Good writers find better adjectives than 'good'.

I read good writers and I recognize good writing. I cannot stop writing sentences that have the word 'and' in the middle. I recognized this when I was in high school and I have yet to figure out how to stop. I hope someone can help me identify my problem and give me a solution.

Good writing carries me to the next sentence, the next chapter, to the last page. It does not read like an endless grocery list. I list, restate, rephrase. Blah, blah, blah. On and on and on.

Good writing leaves me hungry for more. My cliches could induce vomiting.

Good writers find better adjectives than 'good'. In fact, good writers do not feel the need to use a very emphatic adjective for every important noun and they never write run-on sentences and they make me really, really jealous because they know how to use their commas.

I would like to be a skillful writer. I'd settle for competent.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pathetic Gratefuls

I'm getting sick. Okay, I am sick already. I'm achy. My head feels like it's going to explode. My throat hurts and it's scratchy and I keep coughing. You know, that fake sounding cough that sounds like I'm making it all up. That cough. Every time I cough, I feel like I need to justify it. Steve keeps telling me to just go to bed already. I don't want to be alone.

I'm gonna be grateful now. So there.

131. Steve made dinner.

132. Grilled cheese sandwiches.

132.5. Remembering this:
We went out for dinner one night many years ago. One of the girls ordered grilled cheese and then asked,
"Do boys like girled cheese?"

133. Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup made with milk instead of water.

134. A friend to keep El busy and happy.

135. I don't have to work next week, it's Spring Break, and Mo comes home from England in a couple of days.

136. Ice cold water with extra ice.