Saturday, May 29, 2010

Evolution of a Window Sill

For some reason I can't stop taking photos of my kitchen window. If you read here very often, you will likely recognize these white tiled sills and ever-changing plant and flower arrangements. Maybe it's because it is one of the few well-lit places in our apartment. Maybe it's because I usually put whatever flowers I have on display there. Today it's because I found this cute little robin's egg planter while I was at the plant shop today.

One of the wonderful things about China is the ridiculously cheap prices for plants, flowers, and vegetables. In the States I would consider each one of those things somewhat of a luxury, a break-my-meager-pocket-book purchase. They were things I always wanted to indulge in but rarely could. I mean, we bought vegetables, but not always fresh ones and when I did it usually meant a "fun" discussion about the amount of our grocery bill. So, it is freeing and a source of delight to be able to regularly indulge in fresh flowers, green plants, and fresh veggies on a regular basis.

This cute little jewel of a plant only cost me about $1.35. (Ahem, China friends... if I paid too much you can tell me later). Even though the price is hard to beat, there is a bit of stress that mounts in the back of my shoulders every time I head out to the rows of vendors and shopkeepers who make up this large plant market. I don't know if I'm paying a ridiculous price. I don't know if the healthy looking little number I'm buying is being held together by chemicals foreign to the natural world and the poor thing will start deteriorating the moment I step out the door (this has happened to me a lot).

Today I also had the Little Scout with me which was an additional stress, or adventure I guess you could say. Before leaving the house this morning she had already shoved a toothbrush down the bathroom sink drain, poured sesame oil all over our floor, couch, and living room rug (yes, it still smells like some delicious Korean food is cooking in our living room), and all this under my watchful eye. I'm not kidding, I do watch her. She is just fast.

So we headed out to the market and I asked about potting soil prices (trying to get some delivered to our house so I can do some back patio planting!) while my sidekick stuck her hands in little waterfalls, tried to stop the water wheels, grabbed handfuls of dirt, pulled petals off of elegant orchids, and smiled sweetly with all her cute gusto at the shop ladies following her around. She really is quite charming, even though there is no telling what will happen in her wake.

So, in honor of my sweet Little Scout and her busy, charming way, and as a tribute to my husband who says from the looks of our photo files it would seem I do nothing but stand around taking pictures looking down at my daughter all day, I leave with you yet another shot of her chubby cuteness. I'm not sure who is getting more attention these days, those blue eyes or my window sill.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm Not a Professor of Philosophy

He's a thinker, this one. He's intense, it's inherited. And for every moment that I cringe from the scars I know his intensity will bring, there are more than enough moments of amazement at his mind and delight in the already piercing gaze of his soul.

Skipping rocks far out into the lapping ocean, he squints at me in the afternoon sun. "Mom, it's hard to trust God sometimes." Really? He's five. What can be hard to trust God about when you're five? And then, as I watch his mind whir with the explanation of how this is so, he leaps ahead before coming back to this statement. "Why did God make it so that we disobey so much?"

Good question. Haven't we all been asking it for centuries, since the beginning really? "Where does evil come from? Did God make it? Why would a good God allow bad things (like sin) to happen to his good creation?" Yeah, it's a good question, son. How do I explain this to a five year old, who really wants to know?

Well, God didn't want to make us like the rocks here, and the seaweed, the plants and the animals. The rocks can't love each other, right? The flowers and trees aren't friends, right? Animals don't know each other the way we know our moms and dads and brothers and sisters, do they? God wanted us to be able to love each other and to love him and to know his love for us. But in order to do that, we had to be able to choose to love or not...

I love how a question as deep as the dawn of time can be tossed aside by a five year old like a discarded pebble. "Hey MOM! Look at THIS one!" he calls to me as I stop, climactic sentence to one of the great questions of mankind hanging midair...

Yet, I know he hangs on to these words. He gathers them and stores them in those few moments of intense, blue eyes locking on mine. I know this because he repeats them to me weeks, even months later, and nearly word for word. So, I feel the pressure to use my words carefully. I feel the pressure to do research. Maybe to become an apologist or a theologian merely to keep up with his queries.

In the end, I pray. There are people who pray for their children from the moment of inception and spend hours by cradle sides perhaps late at night or in the early morning hours. I am just a young mother who has only begun learning what it means to bend the knee, and that in more than one way. So these hours of prayer have come slowly and the increasing weight of my work has only gradually begun to push me down to my rightful place. A low, intense place. A place where mothers can become like their question-asking, trust-struggling child.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It Rains On, But I Laugh

I have a few things to say here. They may seem disconnected and they are, but it's been a few days since I've been able to get on the internet, so bear with me and my pent up overflow of minor, insignificant details to share with you.

1. Let's start with the internet. The wire that hooks us up to the outside world runs right across the threshold of the sliding door to our back patio. This same threshold that gets slammed and jammed and slided and glided and peeled and picked at all day long by a host of unreasonable and untamed creatures. So, this wire sometimes gets damaged. I think we're going to move that wire, but that is a subject for another day. Meanwhile, the wire broke and I was stranded (not a bad thing in my opinion if you read this, but I am also normal sometimes so I confess it did bother me some) until finally I gave up and spliced those babies myself. Now we are back in business for a few precarious hours, or hopefully days.

2. It's been raining here every few days. The last time I posted was a rainy day, then it was beautiful and we spent an evening having a picnic dinner at the beach. Now it's raining again and it's Saturday-- which means disappointed little men who have spent the week counting down until soccer and uniforms and shin pads and moments of glory. Instead, we held an improv indoor camp which included drills, skills, coloring, and snacks. We made it to nap time with no television, which I felt proud of... but I'm not sure how gracefully or patiently we carried it out so there is no patting on the back going on here.

3. I went to the store today to buy black pants. I have never gone to the store here to buy clothes, on purpose. I have never bought clothes here that fit me, or that I deemed wearable (there was a moment of weakness when I was desperate and pregnant and there was some hideous peasant-skirting involved...). But today, with this ghastly (and wonderful) new mall that opened up down the road, I was able to walk into the first store I saw, find exactly what I was looking for, try it on and see it fit perfectly, and walk out with an affordable, wearable, fashionable pair of simple black pants to wear to the banquet I am working at tonight! It was truly a moment of profound satisfaction and happiness that I am probably being a little over-dramatic about right now.

4. Since it was raining and all lovely with soft light early this morning, I ran out in my raincoat, armed with my son's Lightning McQueen umbrella to practice with the camera. I am going to share some those photos here, but I have a few disclaimers to make. There is no creative ground being broken here. I mean, Raindrop-on-leaf shot? Classic. Slightly-out-of-focus-tilted-roadway shot? Been done before. Petals-floating-in-water? Last year. Just in case you thought I wasn't aware.

My goal is to become so proficient and amazing at using my simple Canon Rebel that when I go out and finally buy a nifty cool lens and all the other gadgets, it will be like Lance Armstrong as we know him, but on steroids. Wait...

 My husband also sarcastically suggested (after seeing the photos from our evening at the beach, which you can find here) that maybe I should consider starting a blog where I only share all the close ups of our little girl's sweet, chubby, baby face and blue eyes. Seeing as how we now have enough of those photographs to start lining the shelves with photo albums. He was right. I need to find a new muse... or a new perspective on this one.

And then, just because... here is a rare glimpse of the mama actually making it into a photo. Besides the fact that I am usually the one holding the camera, another big reason you will rarely find me in a shot is because of what you see here, me-- looking annoyed and about to purse my lips because I wish the lens wasn't pointed at my face. I'm also stuffing sushi into my little girl's mouth. I love that stuff.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rainy Days are for Eating and Taking Pictures

I did okay with the rain today, even though I had to run out in it first thing this morning to buy garlic and cucumbers and some cilantro for my hummus. I sloshed and slashed, wielding my umbrella like Joan of Arc against the whipping wind and water. If soaking wet pants and socks and shoes and mangled hair is a sign of defeat than I'll have to chalk that one up to the heavens. 

I confess, there is not too much going on around here and so I am left to my devices, which usually means the camera and food. We did clean up the house today, read some stories, made hummus and munched on pita chips, watched the rain and the people and a wet cat trying to walk around in it, exhausted the Lego bin, ate a lot of snacks, and of course took naps.

Rainy days can be nice for naps and relaxing in a curl-up-with-a-book-and-some-tea kind of way. The curling up for a quiet afternoon sounded nice, but I was equally excited to be able to steal away for a recipe exchange/potluckish sort of get together with some friends. There was a lot of good food, but not a lot of recipe exchanging. I think most of us forgot to bring that part. 

I feel as though a weekly meal plan exchange is in order as well. Sometimes you just get in a rut. Mine includes tacos, spaghetti, curry chicken, and lots of Chinese food. Today I was wishing I could find a pork tenderloin. I also need some sort of health food kick-- like going crazy and eating all raw or something. The last few days have seen me downing pound cake, French silk pie, Dairy Queen blizzards, and probably something I'm forgetting. If you have any great ideas, feel free to email me all your fanatical raw organic local food recipes and I will happily (though scathingly) oblige!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A good day for a run

I told you those skies were getting bluer, and I am taking full advantage, which today meant a long run up the coast to the popular beach area a few miles north of us. I was inspired by my friend, who recently accomplished the same distance and lived to tell me about it. I'm not sure exactly how far it was, and my husband did lecture me about taking water along (which I'm sorry, I just can't wear those weird hip pouches with little bottles bouncing along at my side. It feels fanatical or something), but I figured it wasn't a far enough distance to render that necessary so I declined and survived without being admitted for dehydration. 

I often wish while I pitter patter along, that I could take my camera with me. But if the hip pouch is too much, surely my size-of-a-small-child camera would be as well. It's so beautiful out there though. I know I complain a lot about living in a city, I know. I know. But I am here today to confess to you that as far as China cities go, this one is actually quite beautiful. There are people who actually envy me for living here. I need to talk to those people more. Someday I may also have to take a walk where I usually run and just snap photos, so I can share some glimpses of beautiful coastal city life, China-style, with you. Today I am just using some old shots from different ventures in the city 

The air was filled with the smoky scent of chuars roasting and sizzling on the little charcoal grills. Everywhere I went along the winding coast, there were groups of people gathered, ,munching on the tender sticks of grilled meat, flying kites, lounging on the sandy shoreline. A dark and leathered face bent slowly over her twine wrapped, straw broom and swiped at paper scraps and cigarette butts, the handkerchief shrouding her head to keep the sun out. 

Two women linked arms, clicking along the boardwalk in their high heels and giggling some shared news. I love how the women all wear heels here. It will never be something I join them in but it makes me smile how they can pull of a hike up a mountain or a five mile walk down the shoreline in an outfit I would think fit only for a business interview or thrift store dress up party. 

Even with all that I can lament about living here in this jungle of high rises, I know that all these unique and interesting parts of its landscape are now home to me as well. I find some measure of comfort in them and some sweet kind of delight that comes from the collection of their particularities. Passing the tattered bikes, the old man pacing the street announcing his ability to fix anything from computers to air conditioners, the roasted sweet potatoes staying warm over a 50 gallon drum or the pile of peanuts sitting for sale by the scoop, the children being hustled along by two parents and four hundred grandmas, the delight of a simple kite being flown high, it all sinks in to form some sort of place carved out in my heart. A place for China. Running without enough water will do that to you I guess.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We've Been Getting Out More

It's true, the weather I've been grumbling about for the past seven months has finally changed. Just a short window to enjoy before the sweltering humidity sets in! Make sure you enjoy my upbeat attitude while it lasts.

I also have some sort of guilt complex after writing wordy posts that propels me to appease your starving eyes with photos. Being that I have little else to amuse me in life at this point, those photos will most likely include my children.

We have been enjoying the days full of sunshine and warm air, the longer hours of daylight, the sights of new growth and glorious color, and all the activities that these gifts bring. Like bike riding, and beach combing, anything with a ball (finally not bouncing off my cupboards and walls and doors and lamps) and anything that involves friends. One of the favorites lately is "going to Africa to explore" which has meant a lot of map drawing and passport making.

I welcome all these activities with pale arms wide open, ready for sunlight and more freckles. I have my first bit of shoulder burn today to prove my gratefulness. All this outside love and running around has also left me a bit more tired than usual at the end of the day. I've been slumping with my cooking and writing and knitting of late. I think all those days of fog and cloud cover made me go a little soft, kind of like those first days of running around barefoot as a kid in the summer. After a week or so you toughen up and can run around for hours on end with abandon. I'm hoping that happens to me with sleep. Maybe soon I won't need so much and will be able to run around endlessly after chubby legs and flying baseballs and tipped over bikes without needing to fall into bed right after dinner.

In other news, I've come up with some nicknames for these little ones that I always seem to call "little ones" or "eldest" or "busy one" and am getting a little tired of doing so. I like the idea of a nickname when you write about them so much. They kind of just happened naturally, so I'll introduce you to them and we'll see how it goes.

First, our little girly girl, who is not so girly girlish, but is so sweet and cute even while she is busy and ready to take on anything her brothers can. My friend told me I am a "classic" kind of girl with my stories... probably because I like to read the classics like "To Kill a Mockingbird," she said. I've always loved that book and love main character's name, Scout. She's a tomboy through and through and it just seems to fit our little tumbler. I've called her this on and off for awhile... so here she is, Scout.

I think the next one has always been obvious. He has had these sweet curly-q's from day one and they are a weight he must bear (he thinks). He wets them down and tries to straighten them out, he asks for haircuts and beams with joy when it's all shorn and pathetic looking. But regardless if he keeps them or likes them or loses them or not, he'll always be my Curls.

The other day I took the eldest out for icecream, just me and those sweet blue eyes that are so inquisitive, so full of ponderings and questions and thoughts hysterically beyond what I would think most five years olds would want to think about. He happily sat and talked with me and then asked me to quit taking pictures of him.

The love he has for all things sports runs so deep I cannot understand where it came from. We have to explain to people that we really don't push it on him, and don't care if he ever does anything sports related with his life. I mean, we moved to China for crying out loud. We clearly don't have his career in athletics as our number one goal in life. But, love them he does and so I started calling him Skills, which of course, he much so that he corrects me if I call him his given name, which I have to remind him is my prerogative as the one who bore him through my birth canal.

Finally, I leave you with my new pair of summer shoes. In all my getting out and about, and in all the walking that living in a city in China requires of you, I take my summer shoes very seriously. The years of Old Navy flip flops came to a vicious halt after moving here almost three years ago; I had to invest in a sturdy pair of Birks which I have not regretted one single second. I literally have worn them everyday, from here to Mongolia and back. So, it was time to find some understudies who could take the load off those faithful friends and I am very pleased to announce that these little darlings are doing quite well. They are extremely comfortable, breathable (I had my doubts at first but they improved), durable, and of course- cute! Not available in China for purchase however so thankyou mom for sending them along in that last package!

It is so wonderful to finally be outside again. Hope you are enjoying the gift of changing seasons!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What She Taught Me about Mothering

I remember it well, the mama-loving machine that always seemed to be filling our house with strange faces on the days we wanted most to be alone. I would squirm under the uncomfortable conversations, the turkey served to drool dipped chins, the small rooms teeming with too many who had nowhere else to go.

Today I sat in the cushy chairs where the followers gathered who want to walk in the Way. We listened to sweet words read, words of rhyme and rhythm, that spoke of the forever love, the eternal sacrifice, the endless depths of a mothers heart, and they gave me a flower to tell me it was so of me.

But today being the day to think of mothers, I thought of mine and the way she filled our house with strange faces. And I thought of the sweet words and how they weren't really true of me, because the love in my heart has limits. It cuddles and cradles the the soft cheeks of it's three, it listens to heartaches and trials of it's own, it comforts and cares for the needs of it's kind, the flesh brought forth from my flesh. But does it have room for strange faces?

They crowd around outside in the courtyards, racing bikes, kicking balls, making forts out of junk. It's a blessing, this group, this troupe of arms and legs. And I send mine out and into the fray, giving thanks. Then, it changes. The dynamic. A different kid, different background. Words don't sound gentle and actions speak loudly, too loudly for my comfort. My eyes narrow, my heart hardens, biting words in my head. They spill out with a friend, my dislike, my dismay. I build fences, pull my brood in, put up signs barring entry.

Are mothers to be praised when they love only their own? Isn't this, the grace community, the one that should be everyone's home? Aren't they, these little urchins, these ones that grate my skin-- also loved, also cherished, also eternal beings within? When my son looks down at his dirty hands from play, and asks me as his mind runs, about the dirty ones we pass by every day; he wants to know if we can help them, give them something Good and Clean. And I think, how can I help him love those dirty hands but not a dirty mouth, a dirty background, a dirty mind, a dirty child?

They all came unto Him and he would let them. He would let this child, my child, and all those children come unto Him. He gives me children to love and then he asks me to love all the other children too. Who did I think I was, saying no, saying they were not good enough? Isn't this, the grace community, the only place they can come, not being good enough? Aren't I the same dirty girl, the same dirty child who gets to come to my Father every day?

I think of my mother's house today, and every other day, still teeming with the unlovely, still feeding drool dipped chins. She raised a dirty girl there, two dirty girls and two dirty boys. She loved them with words and meals and comforts and prayers, memories and sacrifices and the burning hurting love that only a mother who loves dirty children can give. She washed us clean with the Word, she pointed us to the Way.

She showed me and shows me still that mothers can't just love their own. I still squirm under the uncomfortable truth of it. I still squint my eyes at first. But there's a fresh Wind that blows through me and lays its hands all over me, changing me. I'm off to tear down fences. Take that sign down. Swing open the doors. Let love come in this place, let it spread itself around. There is more than one way to celebrate Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

{book}worm wednesday part 2 :: the road to illiteracy is paved with wikipedia

The green light flickered and stopped blinking. Restarted, re-booted, re-plugged, re-loaded and still the little dot, the constant humming blip of my modem, the porthole that connects me to the world, was closing fast if not completely lost to me already. And immediately, my nerves started to fray. Because there's life in this little black case I think, there's life-- my life.

This slick black case with shiny smooth buttons that hold my fingers like a row of tiny hands, hands that are so obliging, as is this screen that lets me sit without spilling an ounce of energy, save to dip my hand into the M&M jar, it flashes perfect images and caresses my eyes with its endless stream of interests. No question goes unanswered, no curiosity uncovered, no slightly nagging interest denied.

Then I sit and hold a book, any book, but they all have words and no images. And the thing they ask of me is my involvement, the sweat of linear thinking and the work of weaving thoughts together. These book-bound words, they are not the collection of assembled facts like a Wikipedia file, where every other word is highlighted to send you further down the rabbit hole. Those are the compilation, the memorizable shell that can give knowledge but not knowing. These words, from these ink dipped papers with sentences like ribbons spilling over pages, are the streams and rivulets that flow to a river, a thousand rivers converging into that body of deep waters that en-souls the very essence of its author. I cannot get to that soul through Google. I cannot travel those streams and riverbeds with Wikipedia.

If those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it, then those who do not read the minds, the souls of times past are in danger of losing their own. The world has always been about the work of passing down human experience. Whether the words were given orally, or in written form, they were given-- as though believing that a people could not live by bread alone- but by words.

Words, words, these fact-fat collections that come through the screen like a cluster of pebbles or a handful of diamonds-- so appealing and tidy, so valuable and convenient. Dump them in your pocket, hide them in your hand, tell the world you have them, but eat them you cannot.

It is the breathed out streams of words that hold the life, the soul; the yeast filled words that ferment and rise with time, that have been beaten and pummeled into smooth and pliable shape, whose bodies, housed in pages and hardbound covers are the bread that feeds us all.

But why bother with all that dietary word trouble when the screen beckons with such accessible regularity? The promise of knowledge without knowing, it assuages my guilt with its gentle massaging of my impatience. And then I sit with my book that is The Book and I wonder why it is difficult to pray. I read the growth Words and the Story that leads the Way and I find it hard to accept the unacceptable: a question left unanswered, a curiosity left concealed, a doubt left to be pondered, a person left unknown. I turn from the speed-of-light-answers in a list of ten thousand Google-leads to a place on my knees, where there is no room for speed.

And nature rings loud with it, this slowness of pace. It's the way of the Real World, the one we're all dodging, with iphones and wireless-- where there's no room for waiting, or seeing things clearly, with back-gazing lenses.

I'm cutting that wire, that tube that feeds my fraying nerves, with its green blinking light and impatience massages. Come books, come Book, come narrow straight path; not paved with an iphone or an Apple Touchpad.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

{book}worm wednesday :: precariously on a soapbox

I was sitting there watch them do this for a couple minutes before I decided to actually leave the room and try to go get the camera; thinking, by the time I did that, the moment would be over. But the Foot Book has some serious staying power and the moment held in spite of my clicking away inches from their faces. It was such a lovely scene. For all the terror she gives him, he still seems to enjoy doting on her and joining me in the pursuit to make this family a reading one! What a sweet boy.

On the list front, I do not have a very stellar one again today. I don't really have a list at all, in fact. Chalk it up to monoliths like Les Miserables (which Josh just finished today! 1000+ pages later...) or the incessant reading of board books (our Goodnight Moon edition just bit the dust once and for all), or the fact that I am trying to bust my way through this last, way-overdue library book, and you have a pretty meager list. All the books I just alluded to or mentioned have already been on previous lists, and some a couple of times. We will move on at some point, but I guess it won't be tonight

Instead, I give you a short essay (or rambling) on reading an actual book. As in, one with pages and words printed on them with ink. You might think this sounds unnecessary to talk about. You might think me the most boring blog writer known to internet-using man. You could be right.

In the world we live in, reading literacy is promoted far and wide. It's a hugely popular and pervasive goal for schools, families, organizations, and societies in general. And yet, in spite of all our waxing on about the importance of reading, recent generations continue to prove that they are the least literate of all who have come before. We lament the dangers and mind-damaging effects of too much television, and yet continue to raise children who are drowning in the sea of technology around them:  from television to internet -based study, from portable game devices to cell phones. I use all those things by the way (minus the game-thingy). But a wise man once said that technology is not neutral. For all the good technology brings, we need to be striving to be aware of the bad as well .

 "It gives you something, but it also taketh away something. [In America] we tend to be extremely enthusiastic about technology, about what it is going to bring us, so that almost every American... can tell you for a half hour or more what this new technology will do for us. But there are very few people who have ever considered what a new technology will undo."

It is this undoing that concerns me. The Information Overload can actually affect the way you think and process the world you live in. Think about this: books are our windows to history. Not merely because they record historical events and facts, but because they are written by people who were living in and breathing that historical time period. When we begin to get all our information in a synthesized format off an internet site, instead of engaging in the subtleties and nuances of an authors shared perspective and experience, then we have disconnected ourselves from that history.

Eventually, we may even lose that history. In fact, there appears to be an increasing decline in being concerned with what previous generations have thought or said about the issues we currently wrestle with. We are a present-loving, new-information-junkie generation. In everything from political theory to how to educate our kids to the care of the land or the treatment of the poor, there is an almost naive ignorance of the need to look backwards before looking forwards.

Another example of the way technology pushes literacy out the proverbial window is the way it affects our ability to think about and exist as religious creatures. I do not mean merely in following a religion (of course they help us do that! What would we do without our sound systems and power point presentations, right?), but in the practice of it and ultimately in the muscle flexing work of it. The way the Bible in particular demands a person to think and believe can be undermined by the powers of technological advances.

"Technology implies a kind of rational-- or should I say, an emphasis on the rational because technologies work. See, that's the wonderful thing about them.. Airplanes do fly and penicillin, I think, tends to make people better, and television does show you someone in some far-off place. So technology works in an unambiguous way -- in the way that prayer, for instance, or even faith in God doesn't always work."

How does the power of prayer, in all of its knee-kneeling, back-breaking, patience pounding and time-consuming work, stand its ground in the face of technology that forever offers itself as the newest and easiest way to accomplish anything? Take it from a personal testimonial, it doesn't fare very well. The road to prayer in todays climate (and lets be honest, probably in every climate since the Fall!) is an uphill battle that brings sweetness only as the one is shunned and the other is believed in and given precedence to.

"Technology has the power to change the "way we think or organize our social life, or make us better or worse, or smarter or dumber, or freer or more enslaved."

Reading books, their pages laden with the thoughts and en-souled lives of men and women of all generations, is one way we can fight the battle against the individualism, the ethnocentrism, the narcissism, the pessimism, the apathy, the ignorance, the spiritual weakness of our day. While there is a lot of good in these technological advances, their praises are heralded each and every day wherever they exist, and so I choose to discuss the "darker side" here. Aren't you just so glad?

A couple good books on the issue:
Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman (or his famous, Amusing Ourselves to Death)
The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age by Sven Birkerts

And the above italicized quotes are from the following sources:
Interview with Neil Postman on, August 30, 1992
Postman, Neil. "Social Science as Theology." Et cetera issue Spring 1984.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

lately we've been eating too much cheese

It wasn't on purpose... but one night of tacos with all the trimmings and then leftovers the next day for lunch, then quesadillas for lunch after church today because I had nothing but more cheese and tortillas and salsa, and by the third meal we were feeling the weight that all that dairy can bring. Suddenly, our Sunday night tradition of pizza just started to seem like not such a good idea.

I've been wanting to make my own granola for awhile now, and just haven't had the push to do so. Today, after some fifty straight hours of cheese, that push came. I found this simple and tasty recipe and cooked it for about 35 minutes total, stirring every 8. We had a simple dinner of granola, yogurt, and fresh strawberries which I can tell you certainly hit the spot.

Also thought I should mention (after my mother asked me what the "seven" meant in the title of my last post) what in the world I'm doing with all these numbered posts that seem to, in a roundabout way talk about being thankful. Sorry, I haven't been very clear. The numbered posts are an attempt to consciously look at what has been placed in my hands, on my lap, before my eyes, in my life every day, and be thankful for it. This, because I just have that tendency to slump so quickly and wear dusty dark lenses much of the time.

I'm not sure how long I'm going to follow this thanks-counting trail. Maybe I'll stop at ten. Maybe I'll just do it every Monday. Maybe I'll become so thankful I'll have nothing but gratefulness oozing out of me all the time and won't be able to write here anymore to work through my issues. We'll see.

Today was a beautiful second day of May. The granola was yummy. The boys went on a long outing with Josh to the Marina. I read a book by N.T. Wright that I am really appreciating. I went for a run early this morning and listened to the latest Kindlings on Lewis', Letters To Malcolm. We broke bread together at fellowship. There was pork sausage for breakfast. The boys dressed themselves and came up with ripped jeans and un-tucked oxfords with preppy ties, and cargo sweatpants with layered collared shirts. It was awesome. I am finding that things like food and family, prayer and exercise, friends and nature, are all things that bring the simplest joy. What good gifts.

Hope you are enjoying the onset of May!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

seven :: barefoot and kitchenbound

It's hard not to feel housewifey when that's what you are, a wife, in the house. Did I take the job or does the job take me? I like to have neat beds, so I make them. I like to see the floor I walk on, so I clean it, and pick stuff up. I love to eat, and eat good food. I think other people feel this way too. So, I make stuff and I use the kitchen to do so, sometimes in my bare feet. There are the clothes that we wear and try as I do to wear them multiple days in a row-- accidents do happen, like body odor and healthy sweat glands, and peanut butter fingers with a jelly coating on my shirt. So those clothes, I wash them. And hang them out to dry. And fold them. And put them in a drawer to hopefully live and work another day.

If I worked somewhere else, I'm sure there would be things, parts of that job I would find mundane, or annoying. Maybe attending meaningless, time-sucking meetings, or filling out mindless paperwork, or unjamming staplers, or stocking toilet paper. I stock toilet paper at home too. It doesn't bother me. I like to have toilet paper around when you need it, that's all.

Sometimes I can look at my housewifey work and feel all sorry for myself. Not stimulating, I think. Not glamorous. Not progressive. Sometimes I can look at my housewifey work and feel grateful. So freeing, I think. So important. So eternal. That's what they tell you all the time when you stay at home with small children, by the way. The most important work on earth. Changing the world one diaper at a time. Invisible work, but vital.

Most of the time I sit perched carefully on the fence. If I enter in too joyfully, if I embrace the role to emphatically, if I accept it too wholeheartedly, will they all think I have forfeited my brain? Will I forfeit my brain, my soul, the things that make me come alive? But then I know that I'm eluding joy when I question it in this way- in terms of losing me.  You're supposed to find your life when you lose it. Is that too topsy turvy, too upside down and backwards to these world-breathing lungs? I don't know if I can really believe that, now can I? And anyway, does losing your life mean losing everything that you could do, could be?

Except that somewhere along the line I think I took this job, it didn't take me. And I said I believed that people were the most important thing to spend your life on and then I made a few of them. And then I said I believed what He said was true, even if it was sort of upside down sounding. And I heard and believed that if I served anyone, it was like serving Him, and so serving myself seemed out of the question. And I started to see that all those people who say they are finding themselves inside themselves, or in the stuff they do, didn't really seem to have found much at all.

So I know it's hard not to feel housewifey, being that I am one and all. Somehow I don't think it's gaining on me though. I don't think I'm getting lost in it. When you lose your life you find it. Even if it is stamped with peanut butter prints.