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.