Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My Blog Personality

While you may think I'm shy or introverted due to the infrequency with which I update this dang thing, Typealizer thinks otherwise. In a mere few nanoseconds, this nifty little program scanned the contents of my blog and labeled me ESFP - The Performers.

(my favorite part of this exercise is the saucy little cartoon character the Typealizer used to emulate me. Mini-skirt, sexy boots, plunging neckline and drink in hand. Woohoo. Never knew my musings were such a party.) Anyway, here's what this analysis said of me.

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

So, in past personality tests, this isn't far from where I've landed (ENFP is the only one I remember, from ages ago.). Yay for soft fabrics! And here's the handy graph that represents my thought patters when writing.

Tip of the hat to Andrew H

Monday, November 03, 2008

Small and Big Mercies

I feel it necessary to not let time languish too long following my last few posts which were, well, downers. True, we still have frustrations, sadness...2 mortgages...but mercies abound as well.

Like Virginia in the fall. We took a trip up to the Shenandoah area last week for about 5 days. Jeff's mom and her husband have a time-share at the Massanutten ski resort. So, Jeff's brother and sister both came down and the group of us had a wonderful time together amidst the brilliant colors of fall. Those same reds and yellows that thus-far have reminded me more of death became a salve. The mountains surrounding the resort area were bursting with color and Skyline drive was an absolutely treat to drive along. We laughed a lot, wrestled, joked, played games, hiked ate great home-cooked meals, lounged around and of course, watched the Phillies together. So yes, mercy = Wilbur buds, fall leaves, laughter, snow flurries in October, a Phillies world series win (which, sadly, we had to see the conclusion of once we were home in Atl., would've been nice to be with the fam). Everything is not all gone bad with the world, eh?

-->Ridge Trail view at Massanutten

-->Jeff's Mom turns 60 this week. We got her an early (Phillies) Birthday cake :-)

We returned to the "real world" refreshed and more thankful that we have been in a while. Time is a healer, so is quality time with people you love. Upon our return, I found another way find laughter and mindless fun: Halloween! We dressed up, ate candy, and partied with friends at Sara's house. Pictures abound of the revelry, here are a few. (I was a pig in a blanket, Jeff was Dr McCreepy. )

So, in just a few weeks, a vacation and a halloween party have dulled the pain of the last few months, even if just temporarily. It's nice, and I'm thankful for fall leaves, family, costumes, sweet-tea flavored vodka (i know, sounds gross, but is really good w/ Sprite) ;-), good friends AND that these blasted political ads and circulars will find a welcome end come tomorrow. (I'll end here and spare any further political musing...I couldn't possibly express well all the dialog in my head). I can only say that I WILL vote tomorrow, I will NOT succumb to fear, I WILL hope in bigger things than the results of an election, and try my darndest to avoid finger-pointing, back-biting, judging and any other yuck that elections tend to incite in people. And maybe I'll even wear my pig w/ cigar mask to the polling place tomorrow ;-).

--> Delivery System for said Tea-vodka. Sara the Bier-frau helps set me up.

-->McCreepy in full effect

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I So Love the Fall...Just Not This One

I can't lie...the last 5 months have been pretty crappy for us. (hence the seldom-blogging...we've been mostly exhausted or out of town when possible). Anyway, its just seemed that around every corner some unwanted emotion or event lies in wait. I struggle to hope amidst all of it, but I do, in some small part. But before I get to that, here's a poem I penned while working this afternoon at Starbucks, listening to Elliott Smith (that was probably my first problem...) ;-)

Torrent of bad news.
One more thing taken
A hailstorm of negative.
A maelstrom.

Where have they gone
The memories of such good?
The bliss of sweet May
It was all okay

Now we face the torrent
The unrelenting
Death seems to loom
Who weaves on this loom?

What story is wrought
From such hurt?
Such a downpour of rain
I want spring again.

Things die in fall
With nary a chance to wave
They start to fall
The leaves in droves.

I really do love the fall. I've found momentary solace, lying on my back in our backyard watching the yellowing trees sway against the bright blue backdrop. And we have found solace in fresh cookies from friends, kind words, invites for dinner, mindless television - yes, sport has been even more my friend, especially these last few weeks. When I think God may be absent, I get a call from a friend, or a kind email, and I realize every once in a while that He is more present than ever.

So, I'll hope in that. I'll hope that our vacant house sells, despite the horrid market. I'll hope for peace for loved ones, who seem at war with others, or with themselves. I'll hope that the Phillies win the World Series. :-)*

*I am still a loyal Braves fan.... I have not forgotten those NLCS losses... It's just my husband is from PA, so we pull for the Phillies in the absence of my Bravos. It makes us happy when they win.

Friday, September 19, 2008

To Autumn

The light is starting to change. A few more gray days have crept into the daily routine. I sat outside the other night and wish'd for another layer. The tips of tree leaves are starting their beautiful dying process. In this season where death and disintegration is a rainbow of beautiful, I also watch things disintegrate in my life, big and small. I do not see the beauty yet, but perhaps it is apt that fall should join me in this journey and teach me how to glory in slow, beautiful death. Because, after all, the sacrifice these leaves are making is only so the glory of spring's life will be that much greater. I don't want to rush past fall and winter for that glory just yet, I will sit in the sad, crisp reality of the 'ber months. I will heed the dying process, but also heed the life that sneaks between, like apples, firepits, soup and the yellow light. Here's Keat's Ode to this beloved season.

To Autumn - by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skie

Monday, September 08, 2008

No Umbrellas Needed (except once)

I read this poem tonight, and I liked it because it's about Seattle. We just went to Seattle, Jeff and me. The only difference between this poem and our trip is that we didn't really seep too long in the gray rainy-ness. But before I say some words about our adventure, soak in these words for a few...

Black Umbrellas
by Rick Agran

On a rainy day in Seattle stumble into any coffee shop
and look wounded by the rain.

Say Last time I was in I left my black umbrella here.
A waitress in a blue beret will pull a black umbrella

from behind the counter and surrender it to you
like a sword at your knighting.

Unlike New Englanders, she'll never ask you
to describe it, never ask what day you came in,

she's intimate with rain and its appointments.
Look positively reunited with this black umbrella

and proceed to Belltown and Pike Place.
Sip cappuccino at the Cowgirl Luncheonette on First Ave.

Visit Buster selling tin salmon silhouettes
undulant in the wind, nosing ever into the oncoming,

meandering watery worlds, like you and the black umbrella,
the one you will lose on purpose at the day's end

so you can go the way you came
into the world, wet looking.

"Black Umbrellas" by Rick Agran from Crow Milk. © Oyster River Press, 1997. Reprinted from the Writer's Almanac

Our Seattle was a little less dreary, though not entirely shiny, but just as friendly. Coffeeshops felt warm and communal, restaurants seemed full of folks who enjoy good food. I loved the local ethic there, where practically every menu from the corner sandwich shop to Tom Douglas' latest joint was choc-full of local produce, meats and cheeses. If I were a restauranteur in the summer in Washington, I wouldn't know where to start with all the tasty gifts of the earth!

We tasted some wonderful things that came from a variety of sources: Blueberries from my uncle's yard were perfectly ripe, deep blue and delicious. Hundreds of blackberries weighed the boughs of some wild bush in a local park. We past it once on a sunny-day stroll, then I returned (for the lovely park sits right across the street from my uncle and aunt's house!) to grab for myself some of those midnight purple berries, gently loosening them from their stems, picking, then eating, picking then eating.

While wandering through Pike Place market in the heart of Seattle, we passed a vendor selling peaches. He sliced us a sample, selling his wares, doing well to convince me that being a Georgian doesn't give me the lock on fine, juicy peaches. I couldn't stop thinking about that peach, so the next morning, after a surprisingly authentic Pain au Chocolat at a local french bakery (a delight in of itself), I found the purveyor of peaches and $2 (yep...a pricey peach) later I had big sticky orange drops running down my chin. The price was steep, but that peach was bigger than any I've seen from Georgia or South Carolina, and of course it was organic and hand-picked and all that jazz.

Then there were those local wines we found in a small tasting parlour right off the ferry stop on San Juan Island. In truth, the grapes for the San Juan Cellars wines are taken from all over the state so they have a wide variety. I'm not sure if it was the kind sommeliers or the gorgeous afternoon, but we rightly enjoyed all those tastings and walked off with a few bottles (after all, you can't watch someone pour you tastes of 7 varietals and walk out empty-handed.)

If travel is a narrative, food memories always seem to be underlined for me.
In the meantime, feast your eyes on this basket of wonder from Ivar's on the waterfront.

Click here to see more pictures

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Guatemala Reflections 2


2. Thursday morning, we loaded about 35 youth into a school bus and went to the Guatemala City zoo. We had done the same routine the previous morning with another group of younger children. As we waited for the okay to enter, we waited in the parking lot outside the zoo, I with at least 4 girls crowded around me, requisite hugs, smiles and giggles. Excitement was in the air, and a strange attraction to me from these girls. Soon, I had a bangled bracelet being attached to my belonged to Genesis, a slight of frame, long-haired, beautiful girl. I had complimented her on the bracelet earlier, now, in sweet yet awkward exchange, it was mine. I kindly said "no" and "you don't have to do that" but it was not to be heard. She held my wrist with sincerity and said she wanted me to have it. As I weighed that interaction, a few of the older girls that I'd befriended on the bus ran up to me holding a necklace they had just purchased from one of the roaming tchachke vendors in the parking lot. A simple black rope held a small, white rubber dog. I had shown them pictures of my dog on the trip over, they saw that and thought of me. Still reeling from the generosity of these impoverished zone 18 kids, another few girls approached me with a necklace: okay, now this was getting was like kissing another guy with your boyfriend watching or something. Wide-eyed, I accepted this new gift, another simple black rope with a shiny, red "E" charm. They excitedly explained that "E" was for Elizabeth, my middle name. I had perhaps mentioned my "nombre secundario" to them in passing once, maybe twice, and they remembered? I have so much to learn from their kindness. But, the truth is, my newly gifted "bling" adorned my neck and wrist, I wondered if there was subtext to this loving display. Were they trying to win me so I would become their "Patrona" (sponsor) like their friends or siblings have. Did they just want to charm a gringa to make a lasting impression, a "connection."? Again, I cannot answer to their motives, and I want desperately to have simply accepted those gifts as love. Christ's love is without condition, no matter how much I want to disbelieve that, too.

3. A few hours after the "zoo bling" incident, we landed back at the ministry center to drop off the youth and say our final goodbyes to them. I accompanied David and Laura upstairs where we had planned to present a gift to one of the youth, Ericka, from her Patrona, Patty G. Earlier in the day, her dark eyes glittered as she asked me questions about "hermana Patty." "Did she cut her hair?....why didn't she come this year?...Are her eyes still blue?" Now, we presented Ericka with a small gift from Patty, and the sparkle I had seen earlier exploded into unabashed joy. As she tore through the red tissue paper to reveal a small blue purse, she was already squealing with glee "Oh...hermana Patty!!! Its so beautiful!" Her fingers moved quickly to unzip the bag and reveal more goodies inside, meant just for her. I was so moved by her uncontained smile and appreciation. A letter was enclosed from Patty, so I tried my best to translate it for Ericka, and when I was finished, I was surrogate Patty, recipient of Ericka's joyous hugs and kisses. "Oh thank you, thank you. I love you!" I hugged her back, held back tears and promised her I would pass along a message to Patty: "Tell her I love her and that I think of her all the time."

Child sponsorship at its most denoument needed.

Guatemala Reflections 1

I had a handful of trailmix yesterday and thought of Guatemala.

I had a banana this morning with breakfast that wasn't nearly as sweet and fresh-tasting. It'd probably been picked 5 days before I bought it, ripening to some moderate sweetness on my kitchen counter.

I had a few thoughts and frustrations this week and wished I had my wonderful teammates to process with.

Not even 2 days after my arrival in Atlanta from a week in Guatemala, I was whisked away to steamy Athens, GA for a work project, given hardly any minutes, hours or space to think and reflect on what I had experienced in Central America. Only those late hours when my boss had finally found rest on her pillow was I able to sit at the computer in the dark silence of our hotel room. But then it was too late, I was too tired, and the lure of keeping up with emails, facebook and news was too great to give pause for reflection.

Now one week past our first day of VBS at the Hope for Guatemala ministry center, memories and impressions sweep through my head, streaks of gladness in what has already become the ho-hum of everyday here in Atlanta/Athens/Savannah. I memory through pictures posted, souvenirs unpacked (yes, I just unloaded the last vestiges of Guate from my big black suitcase), dirty clothes now clean, folded in my closet that once bore the smells, sweat and sticky hugs of dozens of adorable children.

As I cleaned the kitchen this morning, I discovered the crumbled brochure about Hope 4 Guatemala's child sponsorship program. ' bring HOPE to a child today..." This wonderful program works like other sponsorship programs such as Compassion International - with $32 a month you pay for their meals at the ministry center, school supplies, clothes, special activities, tutoring, etc. I've never done one of those programs, and even now I wonder why, and I speculate as to why I hesitate with the HOPE version. The brochure shows smiling faces, many of which are familiar, maybe that's what makes this one harder.

As a team we would discuss this opportunity on occasion when we'd landed back at Tina's during the evening. Tired feet and grease-streaked faces, we would lounge in her living room and ask each other, "Have you picked a child to sponsor?" or "got any thoughts about whether you'll sponsor someone?". Maybe that's why I'm ambivalent, it seems a tad like an oddball marketplace where I'm to be looking for the "cutest" or the "neediest" or just that right "connection." Yet, as I look at this brochure and these faces, I know how great the need is, and I reason that I must put aside my skepticism and hesitation, for the sake of one of these little ones having school supplies. Bearing in mind this struggle, I will share 3 stories in this, and perhaps a subsequent post that relate to this matter. Two of which feed my tendency toward cynicism (which I'm not proud of), and one makes me smile...really big. Here's hoping the muscle memory of my joyous smile outweighs that of my crinkled brow.

1. I have some friends stateside who sponsor a child through Hope. I asked Tina about this girl and how she was doing because I had not seen her at any of our activities. "She doesn't really come around the ministry center much lately." This gave me pause, after all, my friends are faithfully sending their $32 and gifting her with nice things above and beyond the "basic need" stipend. Are there repercussions for her absence from the ministry activities? Should my friends be alerted? ....Should I be the rule-keeper and arbiter of whether she should receive this gift of love? ...Is it not filled with so much more grace then if she is a prodigal? I don't know the right answers, but here is one reality of sponsorship - our gift may not have strings attached.

Check out some more of my pictures from our first few days in Guatemala

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Band is Famous for a Second

Hi friends.
I am queen of multi-tasking at the moment, well, actually at many moments. I'm concurrently working on an article assignment, watching the Euro 2008 semi-final (Germany v Turkey), flipping back to Wimbledon on ESPN2, and now, shamelessly promoting, by way of blogger, an event that my band, The Ming Dynasty, is very lucky to be a part of.

Find out more about what we're doing on Friday night by checking out PASTE Magazine's homepage (yep, that's right, Paste Mag...), or going right to the article about Building HOPE.

If this event or organization sounds interesting to you, let me know and I'll send you the evite with details.

und....Deutschland, Deutschland!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Shall Keep Singing

I like this poem from yesterday's Writer's Almanac. It makes me hopeful and kinda happy, two h-words that I've craved of late.

"I shall keep singing!" by Emily Dickinson.

I shall keep singing!
Birds will pass me
On their way to Yellower Climes—
Each-with a Robin's expectation—
I—with my Redbreast—
And my Rhymes—
Late—when I take my place in summer—
But—I shall bring a fuller tune—
Vespers—are sweeter than Matins-Signor—
Morning—only the seed of Noon—

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mixed Emotions

Phew. I have some mixed emotions right now. I'm not sure what music suits it either. Something ambient like Thievery corporation or Air may calm me, Patty Griffin would make me cry which is probably an appropriate response given some news I got today.

However, I've just returned from 3 hours at a crowded bar listening to bands perform some of the greatest "sing-a-long songs" of all time - a fundraiser. Our assignment was AC/DC's Back in Black. We practiced lots and had a total blast, but the hours of waiting around were tiring. Our slot of 9:40 ended up as 11:14. oops.

After Drivin n Cryin did "Going straight to Hell" and Colonel Bruce Hampton botched up "Everyday people" on comes Ming... we had fun. I'll just know to come an hr later than promised next time.

Back to my emotions I'm sitting here coked up on adrenaline from rocking for 3 minutes, trying to quiet the confusion in my head. But I think toward tomorrow, and our Radiohead concert tickets...I cannot wait. Then this other thing Friday, then that other thing marches, but underneath it all, the current of friends who are really hurting. So what the hell should I listen to? Aaaah. Jeff Buckley. Perfect.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fresh! Local! Organic! Expensive.

My friend Twosquare made an inspiring post the other day about how all her local farmers markets are starting to open up, bursting with fresh produce, a veritable cornucopia of colors, flavors and GOOD produce. It made me reminiscent of our days in France, going to our Nantes market to get all we would need for a few days' tasty nourishment.

Well, there are a few farmer's markets in the Atlanta area, I haven't really researched it, but I know the Episcopal church in Buckhead has one. With this momentum, I was ecstatic when my friend Rachel told me about Moore Farms and Friends They take online orders for weekly produce, and have delivery points all around Atlanta. And you don't have to sign up for some long-term collective, or end up with 2 lbs of carrots or something. For a mere $20 you get a bushel-full (so I imagined) of fresh, seasonal goodies. For a few bucks extra you can pick your produce, or add things like eggs, sausage, herbs and other fun stuff.

We submitted our orders together last week, and have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our box O yummy fresh things.

When she and I met to exchange produce we looked at our few little vegetables rolling around at the bottom of the box, and big bag of leafy greens, then looked at each other, and said "Hm, not sure if its worth it." Really, I wanted to be excited, but I had in mind what I could get for $20 at my local International farmer's market (where, I'm sure, the produce is chemical-laden, buggy, and not as farm-fresh). Instead, my box had just 2 (scrumptious-looking) large yellow squash, 2 (bright-red, firm) tomatoes, a big bag full of field-greens and 5 carrots.

Everything looked delicious, even if I didn't know what the heck the large stalks of green, leafy goodness were in the bag next to the fresh-picked red-leaf lettuce.

I can now say that everything TASTES delicious, too. (Well, we haven't tried the tomatoes yet). We chopped, oiled, roasted, sauteed and tossed the veggies with some pasta, parmesan and bacon and mmmmm, it was really tasty.

BUT, $20? I just don't know. I love veggies, and I love the earth and stuff, but I think if I get real serious about local, it may have to come from my backyard. Its a nice splurge when opportunity knocks, but I'm not sure I'll make this my weekly produce regimen.

Pictured: Odd leafy green things. Peppery, slightly leathery when raw, tasty when sauteed with garlic and bacon. (but really, what ISN'T).
Any guesses as to what this stuff is?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

People Get Ready...

Jeff and I were asked to come up with a prelude for today's services at church. Preludes are usually contemplative songs or periods of silence that happen before services at our church to help congregants focus on the experience of corporate worship.

Anyway, I've been writing a few things here and there, but nothing I was happy with for that purpose. So, after tinkering around on piano and guitar on Saturday for a bit, Jeff and I settled on People Get Ready, mostly because its easy, I like singing it, and its remotely spiritual. I learned a few more factoids from Wikipedia on the song (like, its a pop song, not an old spiritual). What I did know is that I just love Eva Cassidy wailing it (and really love Eva Cassidy wailing just about anything).

Speaking of cover songs, Ming Dynasty has been invited to participate in a fundraiser called Songs 4 Kids where hundreds of local bands line up and play a song each for like 4 straight days or something. Bands have their pick of hundreds of cover songs. As a band, we've had quite a hard time settling on a cover song to practice and hone as our own. There can just be so much baggage with covers. To date we've done Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" live, and "Midnight Train to Georgia." I have also performed "Summertime" at a couple solo shows. As a band, we're currently in talks about doing a Rush or Led Zeppelin song, we'll see if we ever get around to that.

Here are a few covers that I've enjoyed other artists doing:
* Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (Rufus Wainwright's version is a close 2nd)
* Summer of 69 by MxPx (nostalgia)
* Hit Me Baby One More Time (performed Live by Travis, the lovely irony of hearing Fran Healy sing this with the passion of Travis' other meloncholic tunes was quite engaging).
* Georgia by Coldplay (performed Live at the Tabernacle). Just seeing Coldplay in that venue, then the personal "georgia" touch was thrilling).

What are some of your favorite "cover" songs that bands have done?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Curious Incident Of the Dog in the Daytime

Well shucks, I'm up at 1am with nary a thought of sleep yet, so what better time to recount to you, my 4 readers, an odd mystery that hath occurred. You, oh brave ones will be my sleuth investigators and try to solve the crime that has, as yet, eluded us.

Tuesday, April 1st. 1:30pm.
I returned home from work, happy to once again be walking to and from my place of employment, as me and my hungry belly neared home, I glanced toward our neighbors house and their trusty chain-link fenced-in pen where I have so often left our pooch to stay and play during work mornings. Only this time, my dear fluffy Buckley's longing face did not greet me, but only the sight of the gate door eerily wide open: unlatched with not a dog in site.

I panicked, checking my house, my neighbors house, my yard..and nothing. I jumped into my car, not knowing how long Buckley had been wandering Chamblee's streets. After about 45 minutes of searching , calling, and entreating the help of our kindly neighbors, still no Buckley nor answer as to how the gate got opened. Meanwhile, Kelly, the neighbors dog was safe at home, and they had no idea what happened.

Finally, like a beacon, I saw a little white head, bobbing up and down under the restraint of a lead near the end of my street. A dear family who live a few doors down had corralled Buckley (not a tough job since he loves EVERYONE who will love him back) and were walking him back to our house with a makeshift leash (I believe it was an old USB cord). With great relief I thanked the neighbor and his son profusely and trapsed back home with an excited, dirty dog.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 9am.
I leave Buckley next door again with Kelly, having chalked up Tuesday's disappearing act to a meter-reader or landscaper's careless closing of the gate.

10am. Our neighbor calls to tell us that landscapers will be coming and that he will put both dogs instead into our penned-in backyard, with an even more secure latched gate.

1:30pm. I again stroll home, happy to be strolling home. A familiar-looking dog stands in the middle of our street ahead, wagging her long reddish tail. I drop my bags and keys and go to investigate. My worst fears are realized: Kelly, our neighbors dog is wandering the street, an escapee from the back yard. The less daring and adventurous of the two, I know what this means: Buckley is again on the prowl, and again, I have no idea when this great escape occurred or how far he may have gotten.

This time I am a little more right-minded, hopeful that Buckley will haunt the same haunts he did in yesterday's freedom run. I drop Kelly off at home, briefly question my stunned neighbor as to HOW this happened (she was befuzzled as I), then head for the yard at the end of the street where he'd last been recovered. I hadn't finished rounding the house when the same hero from yesterday, ear to his cellphone, came out and pointed emphatically at his garage. Leaning away from the phone he said quietly "your dog's in my garage...I gave 'im some water."

I sensed his kindness had ebbed a shade into impatience at my clear negligence. But who cares! My prodigal dog was ONCE AGAIN lost and now found (stupid idiot!). did 2 dogs escape from our well-secured backyard with no possible way to have mastered the lock themselves?

Monday April 7th, 9am. Now believing that either the dogs, or some venturesome child wanting to play with the dogs to be the culprit, I cautiously leave Buckley next door. I know that the neighbors will be around this morning and would hopefully hear any riff-raff. To ensure that dogs and kids are discouraged from tampering with the loosely hinged gate, I secure it with a chain, then hook a rusty padlock tightly through the links (though not locked).

12:15pm. I receive a call from my neighbor. Another kindly neighbor (not the one on the corner) has just showed up at her doorstep with my dog in hand. "Is this your dog?" he asks. She tells him no, and walking out with him notices that again, the gate to her backyard is swung wide open. Concerned, she directs him to put dear Buckley into our yard, over the picket-fence gate (which we had recently secured with a padlock).

Upon receiving her call, I get home as soon as I can, concerned that some prankster is truly on the loose. Fortunately, this time I find Buckley safe and sound in our backyard. The kindly neighbor comes by and tells me that Buckley had shown up at his doorstep, sniffing around. Upon returning him to our yard, this neighbor also did an inspection of the premises and found there to be a shimmy-size gap on the far size of the fence, probably big enough for Bucks to squeeze through. He puts a large rock in front of the gap, dear man, to prevent escape. I thank him, but don't have the heart to tell him that Buckley's getaway wasn't even from our yard this time, but from the yard next door with the chained gate.

What/ Who is doing this? How is this happening and HOW can I go to work tomorrow without fearing some shady prank will again put my dog on the streets?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Allez Les Bleus!!

Just thought you'd like to know that France just won the World Cup....of breadmaking.
Not surprising you may ask? They haven't won it in like 12 years. My favorite quote from this article:

Making [a baguette] is alchemy. There are four ingredients -- water, salt, flour and yeast. must appeal to five senses.

That is SO true. Its why I've rarely found one here in the US as good as those I got in the market in Nantes. It's not just bread....its sensory.

read the full report here

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Much-awaited Live Show

Hi friends. The band is finally playing for people, so come by Smith's Olde Bar and bring friends! The more folks come support us, the better chance we have to play again. DOORS at 7pm, first band @ 8pm, we hit the stage @ 9pm.

Have a listen

Sunday, February 03, 2008

It's All About Meme

Okay, so I just learned an internet word today: Meme. I know, most of you really think I'm archaic and old and stuff for not knowing this, but the irony is that I learned about it from a guy with an Orthodox blog. This dude participates in the ancient, eastern practices of Christianity, and he's just informed me about the newest cultural blip on the radar.

Here's a brief set of definitions...then on to The Meme:
1. A unit of cultural information that represents a basic idea that can be transferred from one individual to another, and subjected to mutation, crossover and adaptation.

2. A cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one generation to another by nongenetic means (as by imitation); "memes are the cultural counterpart of genes".

Or, as defined in the aforementioned blog, Pithless Thoughts:
...a meme (from what I've been told) is kind of like a "flattering nod/chain letter/networking tool/fun thing to get to know people" blogging game. Someone starts something like "Name the last five sauces you've spilled on your shirt in a restaurant, and the relationship to the person you were trying to impress..." and then "tags" other people who have blogs, who are then asked to tag other people, who are then asked to tag their blogging friends.

Pithless Thoughts goes on to announce the particular meme, which I will now disseminate to you, the very sparse reading audience:

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages). ("No cheating" was added by someone, probably so our inclination to either want to look smart, or humble or literate and peruse our library for an appropriate book that would present a good facade would be avoided).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

You can read Steve's answer Here, then go get a book and answer back on your blog, I guess. Tag, you're it! (whatever that means)

Mine: wow... this is gonna sound pretentious...i probably should have previewed my surroundings before embarking on this experiment. *sigh* Here goes.

From the Jordanville Prayer Book. Pg 123, titled "The Ectenia of Fervent Supplication" (yikes, i don't even know what that means!)
Sentences 5-7:
Deacon: For this holy temple, and for them that with faith, reverence, and the fear of God enter herein, let us pray to the Lord. Choir: Lord have mercy. Deacon: That we may be delivered from all tribulation, wrath, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.

Okay, so there's my first meme. Thanks for along. Thanks Pithless Thoughts for the education and humbling.

Monday, January 28, 2008

France and Enneagrams

First, a poem about me. Then, you'll see why it's about me.

The Very Rich Hours of the Houses of France
by David Kirby, from I Think I Am Going to Call My Wife Paraguay. © Orchises Press, 2004. Reprinted from The Writer's Almanac

Our plane falls from the sky
into France, where everyone seems
so much happier than we are,
but no, it's not the people
who are happy, it's the buildings,
the high-beamed Norman farmhouses,
the cottages with roofs of trim thatch,
the chateaux set in verdant vineyards.
The people are like you and me:
their clothes don't fit very well,
their children are ungrateful,
and they're always blowing their noses.
But the buildings are warm and well-lit,
and even the ones that aren't,
the ones that have bad lighting
and poor insulation and green things
growing on the tile, even these
seem to be trying like crazy to comfort us,
to say something to us in French,
in House, in words we can understand.

Has anyone ever taken the Enneagram Test?

I'm curious what you are. There's some online versions out there in cyberspace. As best I can tell, I'm a 3 with a 4 wing (3w4). How that pans out with me is complete immobilization. I'll explain momentarily, but first a bit of history and resource recommendation.

There are varying explanations as to the origins of the Enneagram ("ennea" = 9 "gram"=something written or drawn). One asserts that notes and drawings have been found which date back to the Desert Fathers. The personality assessment was then apparently honed by the Franciscans. Today there is lots to be found online, but one of the best resources I've found about this test is a book by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert which gives a wholistic perspective on what these things mean, particularly for those of Christian faith.

As for my quandary, well, in the aforementioned book, there is an extensive table which details all sorts of things about each personality type in concise language. Classifications like "Representative Color", "Chief Temptation", "Biggest Asset". The one that really explains my predicament comes in the column that reads "Representative Country". See for a #3, that is the good ol' U.S. of A. Three types work hard, know how to work a room, goal-oriented, successful... (there's much much more). Anyway, #4 is characterized by none other than France. Fitting that my personhood would be locked b/t the crushing ideals of both of these cultural behemouths. US culture of success, suburbs, consumption, sporty kids, superbowl ads.... and France culture of, well, culture. Fours tend toward idealism, meloncholy, a feeling that the world is not as it should be. (We)/They have a "Beauty will save the world" attitude. Can't you see why I feel completely immobilized? I like the notion of being a 4, but they can't pay their rent! I have an entreprenueurial 3-ish father who I respect greatly and I like getting praise and recognition for accomplishments.

Anyway, that's my (very four-ish) ramble on my conflicted personality. What's your Enneagram #?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

So THAT'S Why I Feel This Way!

It's been too long since I've posted something...anything. And while I've dutifully commented on many a friend's blog about this and that, my own has been kicked aside, wallowing in shame and emptiness. Perhaps, my blog should heed this article, too.

Jan. 24 called worst day of the year

- British psychologist calculates ‘most depressing day’

Dr. Cliff Arnall's calculations show that misery peaks Monday.*
Arnall, who specializes in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Wales, created a formula that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples' lowest point. Read More

*note: This study was published in 2005. So with his calculations, the most depressing day of '08 was PROBABLY Tuesday 1/22. Folks were back to work after a long weekend, snow was melting, and no more vacation day prospects until memorial day...

Anyway, rate yourself on the different factors mentioned in the article. I know I completely relate with the factors (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.

All said, I am proud to say I'm still sticking with the New Years resolutions, only because I didn't really make any.

Happy "Most Depressing" Day!

Friday, January 04, 2008

One Giant Leap

In honor of Buckley's 1st birthday (12/26), enjoy this short video taken a few months ago.

Notes: Unfortunately this was the best leap we could capture on film, there were others that were even more dramatic. Though it made our yardwork a little harder because he kept jumping into the pile, it was worth it.

I often wish I went after things with the tenacity that Buckley does. Anything you're planning on gleefully jumping into in 2008? (besides leaf-piles...oh, and Northerners, please don't say snowdrifts because I'll be incredibly jealous, so will Buckley).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

London Journals (2)- November 2007

(More journal splashes from my trip to London in the fall)

From the Small Chapel in St. Paul's whiplash.
glorious whiplash. The bridges that cross the Thames' expanse at once connect old and new. They are like slingshots, my spirit is tossed from modern ramblings on art and culture to the ancient-like pillars of St. Paul's. The beautiful link - the millennium footbridge - between Art and Holiness is telling that the two are not separate, yet they seem to take distinct places in my mind. That's why I love London..the two interplay so seamlessly, and in fact, join the dance with nature in parks and squares.

But while I can see the beautiful, mysterious transformation of wine to blood examined in Rainer's "Weinkruzifix", it's St. Paul's, not the Tate that is intended for God's glory. Gold, relics, glass, stone, all infused somehow, though not always evidently, with the Spirit of God.

Transformation - the word is chained to the walls of my mind. The concept is riveting. His life. the Blood...transformed to Wine. Bread...becomes the Body. Spirit becomes Flesh. My flesh transforms into Spirit. The earth transforms in seasons...


Pictured at RIGHT: Exhibition in Tate Modern's Turbine Gallery.
"Shibboleth" by Doris Salcedo.
Yep, its a giant crack in the concrete floor. At its widest point, it could fit a small baby, or a sprained ankle. It's intriguing.

London Journals (1)- November 2007

(Here are some journal splashes from my trip to London in the fall)

Hyde Park - Sunday in November

Damn! I'm in front of a beauty only heaven can match and I haven't a battery in my camera! But...perhaps nothing else would bring my pen to paper. But when I write, I can't see the shimmer. The pink horizon. But I can hear the birds - pesky pigeons that annoy at any other time, now lend a measure of music to this scene. i feel the chill on my sweater...but I'm warmed from walking. Only a few brief moments ago, I fought the rush of humanity all to get here, for a magical sunset, a wonder that pales to any that I thought to pay for this evening.

I'm on a picnic bench. The bright hues of fall explode around me, but they dim quickly as the sun takes shelter beneath the horizon. some weeping willow may hint at sadness, but it is crowed with golden leaves. Betrayed.

An explosion of languages surrounds me, words in a thousand tongues fly through the cooling air. I don't know what a Londoner is, but I want to be one. I am at once drawn to the beautiful French families strolling promenades arm-in -arm and to British children singing songs that I don't know, and Eastern European girls with their skinny legs and tall boots..I want to be like them, too.

Bright green. yellow. brown. black. pale sky. Colors are vibrant, dimming, collected into art. can I complain when I am here. Or when this morning I experienced the presence of the living God...expressed in the gold. brown. blues of the church -

...the Church was entirely foreign, yet approachable. Very distant, yet so present and comfortable. A picture of paradox - paradox that brings me so close to the cross, so close to the essence of Christ. Not that He, or faith, or God are contradictions, but they are mystery. Old&New / Gilded Icons & sunset sky / tired feet from standing & rest found in words of truth / beauty&pain / sin exposed (like..every waking minute) & sin reposed ( like..every waking minute).

The beauty of the chants stirred my soul, or at least, satisfied it - even when I did not take the words at their fullness. I hoped and trusted something snuck into my pores, like the fragrance of worship did to my senses.