Monday, December 31, 2007

Active Livin'

What I'm doing these days:

1) whizzing around town with little musician boy in tow; drumsticks, piano books, guitar colliding in cacophony in the back of the van;

2) sitting on the parent bleachers, watching Cody bow respectfully, kick like a mad mule, and chop like a banchee; I'll be his taekwondo practice guinea pig at home later;

3) making coffee for the Tuesday men in my kitchen in my bluegrass group; they, even though in their sixties, report that not all men must have Folgers like every farm man I'm related to. Perhaps they even drink something different than Mtn. Dew? Wow, cultural expansion for me!

4) enjoying/tolerating my daughter as she prepares to leave on Friday for school in Springfield; it's strange to think that she'll be a city away. It's strange to think that the piles of clothes, sacks, old dishes in her room will magically go with her. It's hard to think that I will be left only with boys. I will miss her, yet will she mature? Yes, the time is now. I'm glad for her and hopeful in her new start for a new life. It's an answer to prayer that she's at this point. Little bird, needs to fly. And soar;

5) getting together with friends; walking on the trail with one of my favorites; playing music with another; going to dinner and discussion; coffee in the mornings. Although it seems like friendship outing-time has diminished, I always have someone to call and get together with. Grateful! Necessary! I'd be sunk otherwise!

6) plunking on my mandolin;

7) reading, reading, reading; in the last 48 hours, I've read chapters from a Joseph Campbell book, an Amy Tan novel, the Bible (Ezra), Charlotte Mason, John Ortberg, and numerous books on Asperger syndrome;

8) baking, gift giving, spending time with family (laughing and crying some because of it);

9) straightening, cleaning, trying to make my husband happy because of it. I'd rather be plunking, reading, any of the above! However, I like semi-order myself; I'm thinking of putting in a system again for doing it without knowing I'm doing it. Is that possible, Fly-Lady??

10) being grateful for the good things in my life; i.e., the possibility of everything on the list above. I'm alive and kickin' -- and, this is essential, and good.

Abandoned blog

Greetings from the desert. The blog desert, i.e. Mine has turned into one of those blogs where the last date signals a wander, a refusal, a hike over another scape. I've been busy, and I, gasp, have reunited with the scratch on page, my hardback bound, specially-picked-for-beauty, journal which has this irresistable saying on the cover: Go placidly amid the noise and haste, & Remember what peace there may be in silence. How can I refuse those haunting words for a time like this? And to drive in a point, among other quotes, it directs only me, its purchaser five years ago: Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
Therefore, I've grabbed it, forsaken blog-to-world, and sipped my coffee quietly contemplating, contemplating, scratching, scratching. One must think. One must scratch (ah). One must caffeinate. One must escape. A journal welcomes like no other.
But, now, this early morning, I'm back. The boys sleep. I had a dream about a past acquaintance (a word). I remembered a communication. Writing opened up again. A space, a password, a cup of java in my "Etude" oriental china red-floral cup, silence for the tip-tapping of the letters upon the blankness to send out, a longing for more time, more expression, more thought. Is this good enough? One might think of this in relation to the blog. I often do. However, the act itself of writing should be reward enough. I'll let it remain there, with happiness of wording, instead of insecurity with output. Language love upon the eve of a new year. I'll go with it "placidly amid the noise and haste & remember what peace there." Happy New Year from Bo of the Bales!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I've been thinking much about Doris Lessing's character, Anna, in the Golden Notebook. She pops into my mind when driving my son to lessons, or pumping gas, or sticking my hands in the dishwater. She will likely be immemorial to me, although to like her is to admit her edged turmoil into an acceptable place. She makes me sad, for her, for her seeking, and her denials, and her utter unmet desires which work to undermine, then bolster, her. She waves, heaves, rolls, flips, dives, flies, and nearly, or does, lose her sanity. Lessing does an amazing job of showing the complex divisions that we often are. At least I am. When I get close to women, and they're vulnerable with their true thoughts, I see it within them too. It's difficult. I know I need the Stabilizer, and even within Hands, I often conflictually toss, and need advice and fingers, and outside help. But, Anna was alone, walking outside "the myth" entirely, caught in her time's disillusionment, being brave, yet weakened too. I'll think of her for a while because Lessing (the recent Nobel prize winner) created someone that you believe in.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"One bunch of grapes," repeated my uncle. Smack went the paddle. "One bunch of grapes," said my uncle. Smack went the paddle. Mrs. Coble meant to win, but my Dad reported cheerfully his little brother held strong and had the final say, after the final futile smack. They ran out the schoolhouse door, making the other kids smile and yearn or tskk: those boys!

We were treated to more stories this weekend at the propped up feet of my reclining, grinning father. He's a natural storyteller, but he says he won't write a western this winter like I want him to. He'd rather have the immediate stage and laugh from all of us. This weekend, he told one story twice, which made me look at my mother and comment upon this fact, which becomes a hereditary trademark at around age 90 and the mind is an endless spin cycle. My grandmother lives in the nursing home in such a tight circle of memories, frets, pleasures, fears. She has the staff call, every once in a while, when they can't calm her down, her son, my dad, and she tells him that her niece, really her daughter, is lost, and she can't find her, and she's at a restaurant called "Autumn Oaks", and her car won't start. Dad reassures her that this niece is spending the night with them, and she is relieved, and her mind turns to the next groove (when she saw decorative crepe paper hanging on the walls of the nursing home, she turned and said to the attendant, "Well, why are my bras hanging out here!"). She's lived here for about four turning years.

But, for now, we enjoy Dad's stories, even twice told, because he always manages to say one new kicker, one funny line that has us grinning and dimpling up at his propped up feet and bright eyes.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I've been a bad blogger lately, but I've never agreed that I would tell-all, have I? Perhaps I've promised anyone who reads this now, that I won't tell-all. Perhaps that is the best thing I could do here with this blogger -- to Spare the readers all of my "reports" of daily life. This is my gift to you, bequeathed, held out, withheld...

The Fall has been good. Tiring. With blips of relational excellence. Troubles that clear up with prayer and friendships and home support. Shadows that hang. Yet sun always pierces through. I am grateful.

My dear friend from North Carolina came this week for a visit. We met on Friday morning for our walk/run on the trail of old. I was quite overjoyed to have her as my travelin' companion again that I couldn't talk openly because I was afraid of tears pouring out, needfully, sorrowfully, joyfully, over such a precious gift of her as my good friend. Therefore, I kept it in, only dabbing at my eyes by the lake when the geese lifted off and reminded us of another one of our old weekly times. As usual, we "churched" ; she spoke of her spiritual life in her searching and obedient and joyous way. I truly needed a female spiritual walk / talk again. Grateful for her. Boo hoo, wail, wail, rejoice, rejoice!

We went to lunch with other friends later that day, and at noon, we tailgated before the game with another group. I got to see much of her; we laughed and enjoyed our time before the plane flies in again tomorrow.

And that's my report (along with the excellent Tiger victory 41-10 over Texas Tech today!).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Science doesn't hurt when one reads a book like Dr. Jenner and the Speckled Monster, replete with colorful, yet direct stories of the smallpox scourge and the subsequent discovery of smallpox vaccination. I didn't realize how much history has been shaped by this disease. Nor, confidentially, did I understand some of the inner workings of our immune system (T cells, for instance). I never realized that the milk maids of 16th-17th century verse were immortalized because they were immune to smallpox, and therefore, always had a beautiful unscarred face. I didn't realize Queen Elizabeth had it at age 29, was heavily scarred, and wore heavy makeup and a wig to hide the disease's aftereffects. I didn't realize that germ warfare didn't begin on the Arabian Peninsula (with Hussein, for instance), but, right here, when germ-laden blankets were given to an Indian tribe which was mostly wiped out due to the high mortality rate. Gaining their land was the reason.

Cody didn't realize all those things (and more not mentioned!) before we read Albert Marrin's interesting and educational story about Dr. Jenner and how he discovered what worked as an immunity to smallpox (cowpox) and experimented until he had created the first vaccine.

An intriguing story. An excellent book. I recommend it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I have the cutest kitty companion curled up on the bed beside me this morning. She's using my Norton anthology as a pillow in order to cram for her final, I guess. If my camera was handy, she, literary genius, would be immortalized and presented like Dryden. However, my husband now works from home some and has taken the upstairs office which means things are far away.

Many days, we're all home, stomping around the house, our whole family together while others have commuted, paid lunch out, hunkered in for long hours at a desk. Cody and I zoom away for lessons at various times. My daughter will maybe go out for a four hour shift at her strenuous (ha!) retail job. My husband will shut the door and talk for a four hour conference call, while he rocks furiously upon his chair. But many times, we're here, living our lives communally, watching our cute kitties, eating meals together. I enjoy it. I love my family.

Today my daughter and I are going out, though, for a few days. We're driving down to the farm which makes my whole senses anticipate that turn at the mailbox, onto the narrow rocky lane, through the gate, into my great-grandfather-former fields where we'll roll down the windows and admit the fullblownforce of tree and soil and flower and water and air smells, sensations, sweetness. Ah; it's my favorite part of the journey, heaven-hone, honeysuckle, here-we-be, happiness. We drive into it, park, greet Bo of the bales, and then, on air, meet my mother and father who always seem to be the same, smiling, always there (yet it slices me with sadness to remember their future). We sink into our chairs and begin to chat and laugh and relax. It's wonderful, well-being, worshipful, away from the world. I love them much.

However, my daughter and I will only stay one night (after all that!) because we're touring a school tomorrow in Springfield for her. I think the time together will be lovely. In some ways, the past, painful years of her high school career seem far away. God works to restore senses, relationship. It's good.

Therefore, I must stop writing about my life and live it.

Until later ......... God bless and keep you in your journeys!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Achilles and me

Perhaps I'm only vulnerable in my heel like Achilles ....
This week, I'm limping around my house, wincing with Achilles tendonitis, a painful muscle strain centered above the heel. Just last week, I was puffed up at the great shape I'm in at my age, running, loving the strength of it all. And, now, the middle-age athlete affliction has struck. Ouch, I think I need to go stretch and swallow a couple of ibuprofen. So much for the glory of the aging athlete. Thanks, Achilles, thanks.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

heroic passengers

Last night, we loaded "United 93" into our DVD player, ready for a movie after a long day in the sun. We knew, of course, the subject would be intense; however, I didn't count on the excellency with which they portrayed the unfortunate situation for these passengers, and the air traffic controllers, and eventually the families. The movie is an example of showing, instead of telling, as we entered into the mundane conversations of the passengers as they waited, loaded, settled into their flight upon the plane, as normal travelers would. The drama of the day spoke for itself, and fortunately the director/writers/producers let this play out instead of superimposing sentimental stories on top of it (which there were probably plenty of).

My heart was pounding through most of it. I'm such an objective-thinker anymore of movies, not wanting to be manipulated by music, excessive camera focus, etc., that the rapid heart beats spoke of the genius of the film.

I'm glad that the heroes of this flight were portrayed in such a manner. I immediately went to a posting of the real people and marveled again at how they reacted, and what/whom they saved. We need to be reminded of their stories, keeping them alive, honoring their deaths.

And 9/11, six years later. Interestingly enough, more American soldiers have died in the Iraq War then were civilians killed on that day. I think, somewhere, that is making our greatest enemy very happy.

It's all sad.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


We covered Faurot field memories as we sat, cheering, or laughing at the "Pinkel's a problem!" guffaws from the ticketholders behind us. We held our arms up to the sun for darkening. We swayed to the Missouri Waltz. We cheered at the numerous touchdowns! and fieldgoals! and shouted ZOU! back to the other side. We laughed at the silly father/husband who became emphatic about something male-concerned. It reminded me of the many, many good times that my daughter and I have shared in the past, laughing, peaceful, celebrating-the-moment-times with which we've been blessed. I'm sure that more will come.

Go Tigers!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

steaming Viennese

Today I went to coffee at the university library with an old English professor of mine, a retired 18th century expert, who now sits as a scholar in the stacks, in an office off the Reading Room. We kept running into each other throughout the ten years since I wrote that paper on Evelina, which captured his high mark, and introduced me to intense textual analysis. (I still prize that paper; he was a hard grader. I felt like I was Evelina, as English majors usually have one character that they merge themselves into out of familiarity. She is a character that my proper mother would have approved of.)

Anyway, a friend told me one time that perhaps he had a message for me, since he was one of those people who came out of the folds of the general populace to be in front of me in various places. I agreed that maybe I should go to coffee with him when he asked again (which he did once before). When I ran into him at the library, he greeted me with such glee (and ferocious hug) that I agreed to go downstairs to share a cup together.

So this morning, there we sat, over steaming Viennese coffee, realizing that we didn't have much to say to one another. It was a bit awkward; I tried to ask lots of questions. He has grandkids, and daughters, and a mysterious white four-petal flower in his garden. He asked similar questions. We talked about my master's program, and he offered to help me frame my thesis when the time came. He has twinkling blue eyes and a ready smile.

Then, awkwardness, then time to go. I always wonder about encounters like this. I even prayed for God to show me a purpose as he went to get his lid. What makes two passing people in quick life, stop for a moment to peer, and then continue, passing by one another time and time again at various places, stopping, and then continuing on once more? It's the strangest sensation to me. I feel as if I want to figure it out, but it's larger than myself (or perhaps just arbitrary); it always leaves me with the sense of confusion, though. Perhaps my confusion connects to something that is beyond my present comprehension. But why? Strange.

I was happy to go into the reference section and bury myself in "Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry" and such impersonal books, which only appear when I seek them out.

We'll see. Perhaps the saga will continue, or the saga has been simply played out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Festival of friends

Last weekend, we had a first annual blues festival in town. My musical friends were abuzz with what would be a good group here or there to see. One had a plan of where to traipse to see whom. Friday night, I met her in the park, and we listened to the group called The Rounders, sound enhanced by the looks of the lead singer (it helps!). Suddenly, another good friend appeared with her daughter, and she bent down to hug my neck and then sat down beside us. Soon another enjoyable woman friend and her daughter found us. Then later, we added another random friend to our circle, and we happily marched/danced/walked around together, laughing, chatting, sharing happy to have been discovered by one another.

I'm not sure of the overall musical quality at this festival. I am simply glad to still be in this town, surrounded by wonderful friends. I don't ever want to be on the brink of leaving again!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


My husband went to Back to School Night at the middle school where Cody attends a few morning classes. The language arts teacher made it plain to him that it was unfair that she didn't have Cody in her class too. The word they're using these days is "delight". As in, Cody is a delight. As in it's a delight not to feel a flogging from the teachers for erratic behavior. As in, I can delight in some calm for a while. As in, God has delightedly been answering volumes of prayer. Delight, what a word!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's early. The cats have been served. The children lie in bed. I need to crack my big literary research guide book soon. But, one moment to breathe and yawn before it all begins. One moment to think about walking in the footsteps of the One who rose, breathed and exhaled life and love, during the dawn, or noonday, or latenight.

My walk is often replete with pauses where I observe how others are walking. Some walk tightly with lips pursed, carefully outlining their feet into His marks, fearful of looking around. Some walk in circles. Some walk meanderingly, feeding gulls, picking shells, pulling pods from sea oats. Some, I've known, walk liltingly, with a smile, and a regard for those who suffer along the way. Others walk with a spirit and a bravery and a sense of adventure and humor. Still others walk in various combinations.

It's interesting how we all walk once we've made the choice. I find myself, though, hearing some of these walkers bemoan how we don't all do the same strut. I myself become tired of the pursed lip, fearful type, who often look up to scorn or reject. Or, the loud and yelling ones who attack, in the name of God, those who want to walk upon the sands too.

It's often difficult to focus upon His marks in the sand while the winds-of-walks swirl around you. This morning, I rededicate my focus, my loyalty and love, toward the reason, toward His footsteps and ultimately to Him. He knows my walk and willed it. I should trust His design. I will walk with a leap and a skip and a pirouette and a softshoeshuffle in confident jubilant trust, regardless of what others think. I will go toward Him the best that I can, upon the sands, following my Master and Friend, following faithfully. Amen.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

ragtime etcetera

My little (tall-ing) middle school student is amazing me this year. Attentive, mature, thoughtful. What's happened over the summer (after a few dips even)? All I can say is that this is the best start of school yet. Over at the public school for three hours, Cody is doing well, being brave, managing the socialfull, sensory-filled, whole teaching delivery. His science teacher e-mailed and said that he's a delight.
And, he's been delightful at home. We've been working from 10:45 to 3:00, and he is skipping / plodding right along. I am delighting in home school this year as it's incredibly fun to be introducing some concepts to him and to see his brain stretch.
Here's yesterday's schedule for those who are interested in what a home school day might look like:

1) middle school: band, academic lab (where he did home school reading on Scott Joplin); science

2) home where I re-teach Science using the Audubon's Weather book. We create a chart and chart the clouds of the day and read about cloud altitude and mechanics of precipitation.

3) math: mean, mode, and average review; multiplication review -- not many problems, I just want to assess that he still remembers how to do it;

4) Find two Scott Joplin resources: a) a soundfile on the web to listen to Maple Leaf Rag and the Entertainer; b) look him up in the real-world Encyclopadia to improve reference skills; read aloud.

5) Continue a page in his Writing Strands work book;

6) Go to white board and put William Penn on the ongoing leadership chart. Would you call him a strong or weak leader? [Strong due to religious convictions that all people were created equal; selfless as he used his land (now Pennsylvania) to set up a colony for other Quakers).

6) Write and define the word of the day "Universal" on a notecard and tape to the inside of the front entry closet door with other words;

7) Have Cody write about his basic rights as a member of this family in his History journal (playing video games is a basic right??). Discuss.

8) Read about Isaac Newton and John Locke in Story of the World. Talk about how the word "universal" applies to human rights. Talk about early beginnings of democracy and constitutional monarch (William and Mary) vs. absolute monarchy (Louis 14th). Relate the idea of "contract" to Cody's journal entry.

9) Visit word door and have Cody make up a sentence with each of the nine words on door.

10) Alphabetize his band music.

11) Practice piano and drums.
school is dismissed!

12) Go to rockband practice from 6-7

13) Read a chapter from his book (or Bible) right before bed

Whew! Collapse! Its been a productive day, now on to the next.

Monday, August 27, 2007

There she is, tossing bread upwards, skittishly, delightedly, upon her favorite beach in Destin, Florida, where her family goes periodically. Like her other childhood photos, she can peer (or glare) into the moments that comprise her life, and she can wonder who she is in relationship to it all. Particularly in relation to that restless body of water behind her which always churns, always cycles, always invites, threatens. From tranquil to tumult within twenty-four hours. She within knows the wave types.

She can wonder particularly in relation to the mother who holds the camera, focusing upon her always, desiring her to be captured in a placid moment of unreasonable, safe joy. Perhaps so she can then be captured in writing under a photo, a yearning pressed out; a frayed hope of points and light, which may be illusory. She doesn't know.

However, inevitably, she will look at the photo which frames her, caught, always beside the sea, always with the forty three year old mother who may one day appear full of love, praying, hoping, behind the camera which records a moment with the seagulls in Destin one August evening in 2007.

Will she see?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sleds and water balloons, why not? The sleds later became water troughs for the 23 kids who roamed around my yard yesterday, slurping up the cool refreshing liquid into their water guns, wands, later my plastic bowls. It was the beginning (and the end?) of an annual water fight and ice cream party. There were many drenched, dripping smiles and lots of splattery feet. And no whams, bams, thuds, cries, or sirens either, thankfully. Cody's vision of summer fun came true, and even though he made a new girl enemy friend ("She wouldn't stop squirting me, Mom!"), he went to bed sleepy and happy last night. My torn up backyard and raw balloon tying thumb will be just fine (although I do mention them for sympathy). The best thing out of all this is that there will be no more nightly drench-mother-rehearsal-pre-fights. I'm safely dry now and plan to stay that way.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Raised arms, gasping thoughts

Those little faces looking up to the stage, gasping when a related thought hits them hard, throwing up their arm for me to call on them stays with me. The talk this weekend was on fear and trust. And, as I performed the script for three children services, the kids listened and swung their arms high, wanting me to call on them, listen to their specific fear.

My script didn't call for participation at that point in the talk, but they were insistent arm wavers : "I have a fear that someone is going to walk up the stairs and get me and take me away from my mommy and daddy," said a six year old girl. "I have a fear of losing my sister," said another one. "I have a fear of falling off an airplane," a boy said. Waving arms of fear, gasping thoughts of the innocents filled the room. But I had to keep going, continuing on with the sermon, speaking of the issue of trusting God, giving him your fears, making a wise choice to trust Him. Their eyes glazed. Fears are quite specific, it seems. Something they understand early on. God is less detailed, fuzzy, difficult to sense in the same way. Will fear be supplanted by trust one day?

I hope, but why can't God be as tangible as fear to small children? Even now in their innocence, they feel especially vulnerable to terrible things. Waving arms of fright. Please listen, Teacher, and help us all in our anxious world, especially the young children, protecting them in every nation, because of your love, despite the fallen state, despite the horrible conflicts of man, despite a generational curse, despite a harsh environment. Suffer not the little children as you once willed. Please call on the children and comfort their arms and fears through tangible signs, proving yourself the stronger and more attentive force. Amen.

Friday, August 03, 2007


The world revolves for those of us lucky enough to be here.

When I see the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, I can't help but think of Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" in which he examines the lives of those who were crossing the bridge when it snapped and fell. The novel poses the question of destiny / fate / divine purpose against random occurence. The question used to bother me quite a bit. Now, I tend to believe that random occurence is a causal powerful thing which is hard to avoid in this land of natural laws and motions. Our divine purpose meets its wall. Our divine purpose occurs before meeting the wall. Perhaps God will move the wall, perhaps He won't. Perhaps we'll be on the wrong section of the bridge some time. May we live according to his plan and light until then.

But, life goes on for me. Cody finished his social skills training at the local autism center yesterday. I'm excitedly seeing timers and conversation topics and he and I conversing, with certain rules of conduct, over our reading. I think this will continue the work of the summer.

Music continues. Cody, his learn-by-play piano teacher (not the technical one on Monday's), and I whipped up a rendition of O Susannah to record on Wednesday afternoon. Cody wrote my (very haunted F minor sounding) harmony which I memorized on the mandolin. Linda played her guitar, and Cody manned the piano, having recorded also a drum part. We taped; Cody wasn't happy! We kept doing reworks. We kept laughing. He wants a mic for each instrument next week! I am grateful for Linda and call her Annie Sullivan, a deserving teacherly name for her.

My daughter is driving a friend to the KC airport today which worries me. I told her so, and she hushed me off, and I have no way to take her keys as she lives with her friends. Life goes on there. In a couple of weeks, we're all bound for the beach. I'll look forward then, away from the drive of the day.

Finally, I received my syllabus for my graduate class in English that I'll be taking online. Wow, am I crazy?! Yet, I'm idiotically looking forward to the learning goals and deadlines that this paper represents, now on the outside, soon to be swirled within the language of pedagogy. Do I have you to thank for this, Jennifer (haha)?

Life continues until who knows when or how. May God grant us perspective.

Monday, July 30, 2007


It's strange that there he sat in my kitchen chair with glasses, with a gentle air, with a giggle or two when the banjo clucked like a pained chicken. He gripped his guitar during his solos, attacking the new runs, participating in a singular joy of musical expression. He, in fact, was a professional trombonist, but his lungs refused to answer to the mouthpiece after awhile. I never heard him play, but he used to for a local group, going into bars perhaps, perhaps inhaling the smoke of others, never from a habit of his own.

All I knew of him was that he liked jazz, the Em chord, his friend James; he had a sweet wife; he sat unknown in front of me in church for a couple of years; he showed up at the same bluegrass class; then, he made a way into my kitchen on Tuesday afternoons. The cancer was already there, they say. Yet he seemed quite healthy five weeks ago as we played at his family reunion. Three weeks ago, he occupied his normal spot at our practice. Yesterday, he died; the lungs refusing any more breathful musical progressions whatsoever.

The last time, he came over, I tried out a new song learned from a Laurie Lewis c.d. called "When I Get Home"; it's a peppy tune which talks about going to heaven, finally being satisfied, about making music with a million angels, "gonna play me a harp of gold that's just like David's", etc. John heard it and smiled and commented that he really liked it.

I hope heaven is not a myth. I hope it has harps and mimosa-flower-smells and God's crushing love and reunion. I hope John is basking in its music right now, upheld, reunited, regarded as chosen, swaying, tapping, sliding his trombone once more, smiling.

I must trust that John is there. I must be thankful that for awhile, my kitchen reflected a small bit of its grace and light and welcome to him.

Thank you, God, for John's life here on earth.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Unwinding from the sounds at Queen City. Hearing the ring&roll of the fivestring. Hearing the doodle, doodle doo doo of the small one. Hearing the dadadadadda from the soundboard. Hearing the harmonies, clinging to one another and then rolling in the hay and back up again to do the work. A bluegrass festival. Rhonda Vincent took our money at the gate, and then she entertained us on the stage. Wonderful. Smooth. Enviable. Enjoyable. Missouri bluegrass girl making it big now.
My friend and her friend and I sat and swayed and talked, clapped and laughed and made plans for our own groups. It was super. Bluegrass is an amazing art form.


Monday, July 02, 2007


As my class was leading "Panther Boy" from the alumni banquet stage this weekend, I saw my tall, strong dad in his striped polo and Levi's, at his '57 table, pointing me out to one of his fifty-years-ago sidekicks. His dimples were flashing as customary, eyes a-glinting. My sweet little mother with her natural brown hair by his side. He was indicating, later I learned "the prettiest one up there" said as a funny, but meant pridefully. And, as I see him now, the past, present, and future meld together, making me realize that I was granted that opportune glimpse.

And perhaps now I'll always see him pointing, waving back at me when I did so to egg him on, to aid him in his offspring identification. When he's no longer here, perhaps we'll still be waving, pridefully, gleefully, to signal our enduring, immortal blessed connection.

I'm counting on it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Walking into the airport VFW Hall ushered me into a confrontation with age: faces appeared from all over to the country to reconvene again as alumni celebrating a 25 year high school class reunion. These faces were lined, fuller, interesting, inquisitive.
We stared searching for evaporated years, inquiring, collapsing the time from our joint starting gate to the present. How many children? What are you doing now? Where are you living?
I stared at my best friends from basketball, student council, band, church. Why didn't we stay in touch? I silently ask. Why did I go through a tough spell quite alone? What happened during those years to me? What have you suffered too? What have you celebrated? When will you disappear again? It was wonderful to hug them and remember, yet it made me somewhat tired and melancholy.
We arise in our different plots, set apart now, once blooming and fading together, now in another perennial bed. Rising, blooming, and falling around other forms. It's as it should be, yet the loss hits me somewhat because those friends were the early safe giggling smart loved ones. We tripped and skipped and laughed together as small town youth. We have many solid memories of equal superficiality and depth.
When I saw their faces this weekend, they were the same, but we had traveled far apart, keeping with us the memories, but inevitably replacing each other. I know that's the way the world works, but I'm sentimental and feel loss.
Yet, I have pictures of us in the year 2007 arm-in-arm. Still holding on. Still moving forward. Still planted together by virtue of the gazebo-ed Square, the long maroon building, the choices of our parents and God to plunk us in that soil, that grouping, that cycle. That infamous class of 1982.
It's the strangest thing to think about: those who are granted to be our side compansions. It never ceases to amaze me regarding its purpose.
May my old friends be blessed and safe until we meet again.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Leaning upwards

I should never feel guilty about floating around my flowers here at my lovely home. Yet last night at the Bible study I attend on Thursday, it struck me again how unfair life can be, and I'm glad for the beatitudes, promising good first to those who suffer here.

Many of the women struggle with poverty, addiction, racial, family issues which are foreign to me. When the sweet woman next to me, squirming baby in arms, tried to tell me about her DFS visit in order to find housing for herself with a drug record and an abusive man in her life, I could only listen and offer to pray. Sounds quite mild, although prayer is a rope.

The women just reminded me, though, of what is often distant to me: the trials of rising above circumstances, thick and heavy ones, the suffering. When I choose to draw near to it, and not just go to a more comfortable study in my affluent white church, I am made aware. It's difficult to be aware because pain isn't enjoyable to look at. It reminds me of the comment that Mary Sheehan, the anti-war mother who lost a son said recently that Americans are more interested in who wins American Idol than who is dying over in Iraq.

It's easier to look away and become distracted and indifferent. I came home last night with her baby's smell all over me, after taking turns with him. She's got an uphill to still press against. I pray for her and the other women there and ask for help in not avoiding how I can help. To not look away. To not become buried in my bounty.

The precious name of Jesus gives hope to us all. Amen.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The calico stepmother simply wants to clean that spot she sees on the side of the young'un's head. Yet that always gets her into a wrestle and a thump. It's difficult being a Mom at times, we think in my household.

For those of you who haven't seen this while on the Mansfield shaggy square:), here is my new Bible which I received from my husband for my birthday. We went to the Christian store to preview the purchase, and I stared at the row and row of Bibles trying to make sense of it all. I saw "The Quest", which is my beloved first NIV version, yet it was a bulky hardback with a commercial looking picture on the front. Many Bibles employed the use of a famous evangelical guide (like Henry Blackaby) who commented bountifully upon the Scripture in forms of printed sermons tucked in between books. Quite arrogant, quite idolistic, I thought, no thanks.
I saw Bibles for men, children, teens, firefighters, nurses. Pink Bibles for women with pretty fonts grabbed my eye, yet again the didactic lesson-pointers/testimonies ruined the purity of the truth-language.
There were comparative Bibles, thick study ones with Greek and Hebrew, and parallel versions side by side, footnotes filling half the pages. Marginal boundaries crisscrossed all over, aiding the analytical reader in a pursuit of heady holy hermeneutics. Not a relaxing read for my morning coffee at the kitchen table, or on the deck, or in the coffee shop. Too intricate and dizzying.
Then, I saw her. A sweet, flower-embroideried, brocaded fabric with gold threads, and a leather hold which says: Holy Bible: ESV, English Standard Version, Crossway. Opening her pages, I encountered only the words of Scripture (with a few, few footnotes) for me to meditate on as I encounter them. Perfect!
We brought her home, my feminine window into God's language of wisdom and rescue and love (which isn't alway delicate, by the way), and I'm satisfied. We should be friends for quite some time if all goes well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer graces

Some of my favorite summer flowers grace the front of my house right now: scarlet bee balm (monarda); and a white balloon flower. I drive up, always participating in their glory. The bee balm blooms fairly long too, approximately 2-3 weeks.

A summer bouquet for my table includes:

bee balm
loose strife
antique roses
corn flower
stoke's aster
tea rose

The back view of the arrangement; here you can see the Stoke's astor (blue); the daisy and a tea rose.

More Grace

I just joined another online support group for parenting an autistic child. This past week has necessitated it (it's better than beer and book in the long term:) per yesterday's post). And, it's a decidedly Christian one, making it a requirement to pray for one another. It's called PREACCH, or Parents Rearing and Educating Autistic Children in Christian Homes. When I read my first digest today, these lines encouraged. Looks as if if they're from a hymn.


1. He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction, He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

chorus: His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

2. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Beer and mosquitoes

It's been an evil evening here: two beers and a book about Dracula for me. And, I have mosquito bites on my legs after taking them lovingly out to the deck. The beers had been in my closet for the last five months, leftover from someone's gift at a gathering. I chilled them today for the men who come over on Tuesday's for bluegrass, intending to joke with them and set one in the middle of the table to see who reached for it first (they all go to my church), to see who was in greatest need. However, one of the men was absent and so I thought I'd save them for next Tuesday. But, the beers remained chilled, and when I popped one open, took the first swig, I exclaimed, "Ah!" And, then I thought how if I weren't a pious Christian mother that I would be swigging the wonderful amber elixir more often and out in society and laughing in a carefree manner. Perhaps I'd be in Germany over a stein. Perhaps down at the local brewery. But, oh my, it tasted good with my spaghetti and homemade bread. Before I knew it, the second top had been removed. And there I was at my table first, and then moving to the deck, lighting some candles, taking my bookclub novel called "The Historian" (unfortunately about Dracula. But, with beer, I don't care nearly as much). I've waved my husband off from talking and ordered him to play with the son and tuck him in. Now, I think I'll make the evil evening more complete and find a place against the pillows in my room and hunker in for the total-experience.

Yes, such an evil, unforeseen evening, which I am grateful to swig.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Butterfly weed

Language, words, dissection, redirection, reassembly.

My life as a parent of an autism spectrum child brims with re-words, redefining, re-clarification. Re-wind. I just took my son and a friend to a laser energy/light class, plunking him into a confusing nominative-classification driven discipline. He wishes that the teacher spoke English.

That's understandable. It's a jargon for sure. I felt the same way at times, being a right-brain learner.

Yet all the way over there, Cody perseverated on a gaming issue of his, a desire for hacking, which needed a motherly ethical overview, an empathy insight, a golden rule. It's exhausting, and challenging, to help him understand other views than his own encased one. Each word, jargon, of a new idea requires slowness, examples, a requested replay back from him for comprehension. And, then, suddenly, once you're satisfied, he'll ask the same question over again. The road towards understanding resumes with the same landscape features. A tangled vine, a patch of meadow, a stand of brilliant orange butterfly weed. Perseveration is the vehicle towards eventual destination, I guess.

This summer, Cody is going to a social skills training class at a local autism clinic. I met two mothers the first night. We had a small debriefing with a staffer and then we visited, shared. I mentioned something about "incessant counseling", and one of them laughed! Ah, it's nice to be understood in this particularly unique mode of motherhood! I would be abundantly wealthy if I charged the going rate!

Onward, backwards, and onwards we go!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mulberry and friends

It must have been the recent birthday. Perhaps it's Alzheimer's setting in (today, my daughter had to write a check from her account for both our driver license renewals as I forgot my checkbook. A sign of things to come, I told her, get ready, defend your senseless mamma.) But, old things are coming back to me, like the feelings of the sudden death of my young boyfriend, encountered again per last entry.

And just recently Mom reminded me that I liked to climb things as a girl. Ah yes, trees in particular. But instead of climbing them just to conquer them, it was best to go live up in them, for hours at a time. The ultimate was our mulberry wide-branched tree, with an old teapot hung up in the "kitchen". When the cows walked under, oh that was a mighty giggly treat of twig aimin'. There were flowers and fruit and lots of rooms to scoot or climb to in the mulberry. But, mainly, it was nice to hang out in the tree and just think. There was an elm not too far away. A stately walnut with ladder branches. An oak with enchanting seeds. I still remember them well and sitting in their branches, and no one knew where I was. Then I'd hear the yellow ford truck horn honk three times for lunch or supper or town. The dog waiting below and I'd head on up to the house.

But the wind is lovely up high, and you're like a bird almost, and you make squirrels curious, and the tv wasn't blaring so Dad could hear it. And there were no other annoying sounds like the water faucet continually dripping. But the sounds were pretty and relaxing, and I wished to not be human and to be something more like a fairy.

I semi-forgot all of this; but, when I went to Europe two years ago, I kept exclaiming to people how the climbing of things was one of the best part of the tours. Comes back somehow.

I'm going to climb a tree before too long, and if my bones permit, just sit and think. That would be lovely.

Monday, June 11, 2007


The fact of the turnoff, behind brushy hilly growth, materialized at the last minute, and I swung the wheel to the left, to the narrow gravel road, up a jot, to the drive, though the open ornate gate. A small rectangular really of a field. Could not have been more than 50 markers. I drove up a faded, grassy, gravelly lane to mine and spotted his face smiling above his sixteen year old shirt selection of a day, of an eternity. Wide white collar above a tan bodice with white sleeves. His hair feathered into style, longish in the back, wide wings. His eyes' sparkle hidden by the glaze, yet known to those who remembered, whom he loved. Including me, a young and everlasting girlfriend.

Old plastic blue dirty flowers were leaning over next to his stone, contrasting with the bright new Memorial Day attire of those next to him. I pushed in my bright yellow irises and saw a future mission. Where were his parents? I think they moved to Ohio. They haven't visited for a while. Am I the only local one left for him and this cold stone? Why is the cedar tree closely planted? What are the roots destroying down below? The practical questions when one suddenly becomes a steward again. And then it hit boldly: the short life, one unlived, the parent's dream cut short, the wreck, the sadness, the unfairness snuffing a bright spark.

My son and I drove on, up curvy Highway 5, where trucks sail away, where tears are blinked. Twenty-six years ago. It still appears to shock.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

As I drove quickly through Lebanon, Missouri, enroute home today, I spied a sign which reminded me of the essential. It said,

Jesus is preparing "myspace" in Heaven.

Only in the Bible Belt would all things be perceived in evangelical vibrant possibilities. At Silver Dollar City, a basketball one-man show dimmed the lights to narrate a one-on-one to 21 between Jesus and Satan. There was a resurrection, after Satan won, but Jesus arose to win by two. He slam dunked, of course. The angels roared. A small sermon ensued, and then the lights came up and we were allowed to leave the theater. Transformed? Well, not quite, but sweetened by a dribble of faith syrup.

Perhaps it was to prepare us for the funnel cakes just around the corner. Everywhere, people were eating. I heard a man crunch pork rinds across a wide walkway. A group of cousins slurped some honey sticks. A family ate kettle corn on the green tram to parking lot C. We carried taffy and peanut brittle back to our men. I think I dreamt that night about swirling in a potato and sausage skillet hash, with a man hacking at me with a big wooden knife.

I think I screamed for escape, but, yet year after year, I ended up sizzling once more, jumping in due to some foolish nostalgia, paying the $43 entry fee for such an experience as this.

The cycle needs to end.

Silver Dollar City (aka Steal Your Dollar City) farewell!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cody happily asked me to categorize people in soil types this evening after our bedtime reading of the parable of the sower. "That's Dad!" he yelled after a review of one category. "There I am," he said about the thin soil description. I enjoy that Jesus made it quite obvious of our location on the sower's seed-scattering path. It's a parable that clearly tells us to "Quit it!' if we have too many thorny worries, or to stop being superficially delighted only in God's message. It tells us to press on towards the dark loamy nutrient-full soil which produces the fruit of paradise for others to taste, for ourselves to joyfully experience. All it seems to take is full and endearing reception of the seed, an obedience to the sun and rain, and a thrilling upward unwinding towards fruition.
My son seemed to take this passage as a movement of becoming. I liked that.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Last year, she showed me her prom pictures taken at her grand- mother's. This year, she's supposed to bring the boyfriend by. I've been pacing. I bought her dress last month, shoes today, and I even made her this wrist corsage. She says she'll be here.
I made her date's boutanier (sp!) also. If you have one flower in your garden, you must have false indigo. It's a lovely cut flower and in an arrangement with roses (when they've not been frozen away). They were perfect for today's prom. Statice from an old flower bouquet outlines it. This will go on her wrist. I await!

our wild knight's festival

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The women slurped spaghetti, made with peppers, mushrooms, sausage, tomatoes. The women bunched together in the small living room. The women testified to the Lord's goodness in their lives. The women laughed. The women held a baby or two. The women sorrowed over a breast cancer in the room. The women prayed with hands touching her. The women hugged. The women connected in the kitchen before saying goodbye.

The toddler girl felt my hair as I carried her around. Her name was Taneisha or "Nana". Beautiful child!

I came home. My son and I prayed. My husband and I talked.

The glow lingers, and I still tug.

Here's a good word from this morning for this life:

When I said, 'My foot is slipping,'
your love, O Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great wtihin me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Psalm 94:18-19

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I was so lonely for my son yesterday! I was so worried for him!

The women at the Thursday evening faith group speak about releasing your children to God: every day, release the anxiety which can grip you, let go, He can handle their issues. I understand to an extent, but I still want to defend them from the mountain lions which stalk.

Today I will try to be less wary, though, and more confident.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I've been in the throes of decision regarding school for Cody next year. I was offered a chance at teaching Creative Writing and Language Arts at an area private Christian school, geared for homeschool children. Yet in further thought, prayer, consultation, I realize that this school could not accomodate Cody and would most likely end in a negative experience. We've investigated the school before for him. I still remember the wave of concern visible over the administrator's face when I told him about the autism diagnosis. Although Cody is mild, yet he still would need some grace provided in the form of patience and love and time. He doesn't fit in the candle holder there.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a Christian school who could make room for all types of children? In Little Rock when I looked, there was one that had an outlook like this. However, the slots were full.

As it is, another plan is in place for Cody for next year, which includes a few public school hours and some tutoring in math and an emphasis on Social Studies and English at home. One door closes, some will open.

With the Virginia Tech specter in our minds these days, I pray that children who don't quite fit in will not be even more ostracized due to a fear or distrust issue. Protect our special children, please Lord! They need a full scoop of directed love, mercy, grace. Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Laughing Song
When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by,
When the air does laugh with our merry wit
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

When the meadows laugh with lively green
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing Ha, Ha, He;

When the painted birds laugh in the shade
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread,
Come live & be merry and join with me
To sing the sweet chorus of Ha, Ha, He.

William Blake

This week has caused a need for a laughing song. William Blake writes in his Songs of Innocence and Experience about the division within us : the reality of innocence blurbing out within a reality of experience and its grief and pain. There's both. We retreat again and again within us to a longing of a world without guns, to a place where there's laughing, and childhood awareness of joy. We need it now and always. We need a song about laughter, although we know the song of tears too.

May the hope of a future lessened burden of grief somehow land upon those who are deeply grieving over the loss of innocence which can never be erased from their experience. Amen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This is a calf who lost his mother quickly. Are you my mother? he asks Cody.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bo refuses to get involved, remembering the last time he chased some cows, he got whooped. He sits and watches the yummy testicles fly. Disgusting!
Cody "turned" / took on a big worried Mamma Cow with his stick and won! She was coming right at him all alone by the corral as she tried to return to her calf. We were all watching him, wondering, if he would be the one to turn and run. But, he didn't; he faced her and inched his way towards manhood that day there on the farm, working cattle like the men (and teenage girls).

A check for the granddaughter cowpoke

Someone earned her keep at the bi-annual cattle drive! It was important to look glamorous as well while filling the blackfoot vaccine and pouring the blue wormer on the cattle's back.

spring break in the Ozarks

Around this time, as we pull into my parent's lane after a 3.5 hour drive, we are exhausted but exhilerated. The sounds and the smells of the fresh country swamp our weary city senses, and we always roll our window down, no matter the weather, to let it engulf us and declare us: Hillbillies once more! Yeehaw!
Here are the kids; the daughter insists that it's high time for the not-so-little brother to learn how to do his time at the gate.
The daffodils to the left were planted by my great-grandmother Vietta, a beautiful woman who once was engulfed by the beauty of this land too.

A Lady Reposeth

Sunday, April 15, 2007


The question of purpose likes to fling itself full-force into one's face periodically. It especially likes to choose a time when the weather has swung into bleak coldness as it did in our area this week. I've been a scurrying figure, holding on to a tree,trunk,stump,branch,twig until late Thursday, I felt a snap, and I was hurtling through space. (Btw, I've always felt so much like a Virginia Woolf character when this happens. I can't even read her books at times because of that connection I feel to some of her people.)

The question of purpose, of connection, of non-random plans was at my throat again due to some prompting that happened at a couple of groups I attended on Thursday. It had been building too. I sat catatonically afterwards on my red couch with my husband peering at me in concern. "What's wrong?" he asked. "You couldn't understand," I said. And the intense questions became mixed with marital issues until I had to get away and collapse unhappily and troubled to sleep. He didn't know what to do.

The morning, cold, came, and I could barely function. I was confused and within the fog. My husband left early for a men's group from church, and I asked him to have them pray for us. Later an online Bible study prompted me to read a chapter in John which held the verse: "I am the light of the world. Those who follow me will never live in darkness." I held it to my forehead and cried and prayed for the light to remain in me and to shine forth, despite the night of confusion. He is our constant help, the Bible says repeatedly, in time of trouble.

The question of purpose had stared me down, mocking that it was even a possibility, taunting me by saying that my life was just a series of random events which had only the meaning given to it by a personally subjective method. I had found out on Thursday night that even women who had no belief in God/Christ, even many of them had a strong sense of their purpose, of corresponding things which reaffirmed their identity and activity. After this group, I went to a faith group where lovely emphatic black women were saying parallel things but in the beautiful language of faith, with conviction and empowerment, and hope and love. Coupling the belief with a belief in a caring Deity, I knew they held the best possibility, the most light.

Meanwhile, my sense of these things had increasingly decreased. My belief in transcendence, in God's design, had been skiing down the mountain towards the fall-off cliff. Yes, He allows me to swerve and stay safe, yet I've gotten closer by some habits of unbelief and skepticism. That night, I felt like I had plunged off, because I felt that I really had no sense of control in how to believe in these things. I just didn't much.

The day went by, my husband brought me flowers, and we went out to a movie, and we were close. I finally told him bits of pieces of some of my load. He seemed to take the time to listen. That part was helping me. He was kind and caring, a gift.

Then, on Saturday, I went to a local folk festival with a friend. During the lunch break, we talked about some things, and I shared with her some of my confusion on the question of purpose and correspondence of things for that purpose. I shared that I had a hard time believing in that in a highminded way, but I wish that I could. She shared her view and questions, and then she told me that she thought I had a purpose of guiding others, of touching others in a unique way, of being a friend that's needed in other's lives. I have a habit of shrinking back and not receiving these things, which I did, shrink. But, I thanked her and remembered a few instances where I have been necessary to others. Of course, I know that I'm necessary to my children, but aren't all mothers? Nature requires it. Why do I minimize things?

The conversation helped me, though. As I ran this morning, I thought of it, and I thought of God's touch in my life. I always think of the positive things as gifts, and I'm always a grateful recipient. Yet, I stop there. I felt like God was telling me this morning to not stop, to understand the the connection between the giver and the gift. A gift cannot be random because it always issues from a giver; it always issues with a name on it: To Teri: a friend; To Teri: a talent; To Teri: a loving family; To Teri: food; To Teri: light. Therefore, a gift from a giver must logically involve a reason and most likely a purpose. A purpose to accept, like a gift.

I still feel like God wants me to continue and not stop there but, at some point, to understand more and fully accept my part within His purpose, regardless of whether that simply involves who I am now and what I'm involved with. Or, perhaps within something else down the road. I'm opening myself up to that. I prayed for more certainty and confidence again within that.

The light is shining more here in the middle of Missouri. Those dark times are telling. Several gifts for sight were given to me. I pray that we can all follow the light He intends for us to follow.


Monday, April 09, 2007


It is Monday morning, very early; I've been a bad blogger lately. My head is filled with tunes these days instead of words. I find myself going to my bed, opening my mandolin case and songbook, and working on "Arkansas Traveler" or "Irish Washer Woman" or "Black Mountain Rag". When I went to the Wednesday evening jamgroup, I was incited by the melodies once more. Thus last week's pattern was 1) picking, 2) penance; 1) picking, 2) penance. My picking was glorious; my penance was housework and time spent with family members. That was good, yet I must confess, my fingers wanted to be picking. My dad has bequeathed a hopeless, helpless life of taunt strings and melodic challenge.

Yet somehow a life was managed, and now it's a new week.

I found time to begin a wonderful new book called "The Yellow Wind" by David Grossman. Beautiful, lyrical, haunting, impactful ... and, I'm only on Chapter Two. Check out some excerpts at this site.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh hail the black and white Eye-Ball that rolls in its grassy socket!

Recently several of my friends have described their weekend to me. In short: soccer: soccer: soccer. Their kids have been wearing their league t-shirts around since kindergarten at least. Their refrigerators are full of age progressive magnet-backed photos of grimacing, grinning beckham-tots, clutching the ball, lest it rolls out of the boundary-frame. My friends always sound tired about the whole schedule, yet resolved in all-pursuit of collegiate scholarship (if it turns out that way) or at least resolved in keeping their child happy, healthy, and out of trouble. If anything can do that, it's soccer, they seem to think. A debatable theory, I think.

Nevertheless for myself, I'm quite thrilled that my kids are hopelessly inept at ball maneuverment. For one thing, I can't imagine all of those years of finding shinguards and socks. We were intensely stressed out those two and a half years our children found themselves mesmerized by the Eye-Ball (due to parental or peer pressure). One shinguard was always in an unlikely place like the freezer or feminine protection drawer. The mismatched socks were always dirty or vacationing. Often, I used my husband's dark work socks when I was in last second frenzy prior to leaving the house for a practice or game. I should have used his tie for a headband, I guess.

So while the soccer parents drive all over the city or state, I'm glad that we have Sundays for rest, or reading, or grandparents, or church. Saturday mornings are good for the farmer's market, or friend coffee, or home cleaning, or garage sales, or longer visits to farther away family. Or, just for relaxing around the yard, watching the new season's flowers sprout.

If my kids were athletic, given what I enjoy and prioritize now, I would only hope that if a black and white Eye-Ball happened to cross my path, I would kick it out of its boundaries and into the Missouri River, where it could travel to the Gulf, and then beyond to perhaps a castaway on an island, and he could give it a name to fulfill all of his deepest needs. The Eye-Ball would be happy again, but not in my weekend!

(nothing against any of you who have kids on a soccer team:)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Most Blessed of Women be Jael

Commemorates the song of Deborah. Jael acted with stealth as she gave Sisera, an enemy king, milk and not water. The music of seeming refuge lulled him to sleep in Jael's tent, where she offered hiding after a losing battle with prophetess-judge Deborah and army-leader Barak. When the king was fast asleep

"Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman's hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell -- dead." (Judges 5:24-31)

The song rises with righteous entreaty in the final verses:

"So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
But may they who love you be like the sun
When it rises in its strength."

In the book I'm reading now called "Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers" by Barbara Victor, I'm introduced to modern day women just like Jael and Deborah. Fighters. Killers. Praisers of Allah and his allegiance to those who love him and do his bloody work.

And, I thought that such feminine militaristic zeal was a new thing. As long as there are religious warring men, there are religious warring women -- equal in life, death, and spiritual ambition for glory.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Photo: Ann Hermes, Columbia Missourian, March 18, 2007

Maya smiled and the world was calmed. That's how it felt last night, even in the back student section (thank you lovely student friend for the invite) when we watched her, in person, smile out over her latest enthralled audience. I'm sure the smile went over into the Gaza settlements and into the outposts in Nepal where children march with guns.

Okay, most likely, it didn't. People died today because of violence despite Maya's smile and grandmotherly advice and benevolent hope for humanity. Yet wouldn't one who died today wish for someone who cared, who spoke about caring, who used her time to be expressively hopefully about a better world, who marched her words outwards to spread the care? I would want that in my shocked and final suffering at the hands of hatred.

Maya was funny. She said that she was trying, trying to be a Christian now, but it's so hard. Sometimes, someone will come up, shake her hand, and announce that they're a Christian. To which she likes to respond incredulously, "Already?"

She received many laughs, many claps. I sat there moist-eyed, because I had started to feel like the world was sinking into the mire of hopeless conflict and subjugation. And, perhaps we are. But, if we ask for more from ourselves and each other, as Maya spoke about, a "rainbow in the clouds" can appear: promising hope for even us, for even Israel and Palestine, for even the disenfranchised in New Orleans, for even Iraq, for even around our own homes.

I'm quite glad that I was introduced to Maya Angelou only 12 years ago, despite the gaps in my biased education. She truly is an amazing torchbearer of human dignity. Below is a poem written by her on the subject, written and delivered for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations:

A Brave and Startling Truth By Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn and scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.