Saturday, December 30, 2006

Person of the Year - Who Me?!

Well, I sensed when I began my blog this year that good things would come, but to be selected as Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2006 was an unexpected honor!

As you can read on the cover, I was chosen because I now control the information age. I find it quite a responsibility and promise to do my best to do so in an ethical and professional manner.

I know it was a tough choice for them, which is why they did not have time to call me in for a photo-shoot. Cleverly they put a mirrored computer screen on the cover so I could see myself.

(Due to the aforementioned time constraints and my picture not appearing, you may want to click on the image here to enlarge it so that you can see my name as proof of this honor - although I'm sure you believe me without such proof being necessary.)

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Perfect Afternoon (PLUS!)

A perfect afternoon:
A long walk on a sunny winter day with my husband

A game with my son (while enjoying Simon and Garfunkel's greatest hits - hey, gotta expose him to the classics!)

A joyful, lively dinner conversation as family

But wait! There's more!
- perfect afternoon followed by a perfect (and LATE!)evening. Tonight was the end of the year celebration with wonderful book club companions and an eclectic collection of movies:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer documentary
1951 version of Scrooge
Neil Simon's "Murder by Death"

BONUS: My husband ordered a large book shelf for me today. Yea! More space for MORE books!

(Just kidding, Hubby!!)

sort of ;-)

. . . and now at 1:10am, off to bed to be rested for our family excursion to Sonoma tomorrow.

Oh, and last night's Rook game with Mom, Dad, Tim, AJ, Hubby and I - and all the laughter - good stuff!

Now we just need some Pinochle in the mix! Let us know when you're ready, partners!

I love Christmas break!!! (and it came none too soon!)
PS Happy Birthday Brant, from Aunt Heidi!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday Fun (Audio Quiz #2)

This holiday weekend it seems appropriate to post something light and fun, so here's Audio Quiz #2. This time each clip is from a movie. See if you can name the movie.
Movie 1

Movie 2

Movie 3

Movie 4

Movie 5

Movie 6

Movie 7

Movie 8

Movie 9

Movie 10
How did you do? Check "comments" section for answers.
(Click here to try Audio Quiz #1.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Language: music and passion

". . . I see my father. I am seeing him at this moment; and I hear his voice saying words that I understood not, but yet I felt . . .

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn.
John Keats 1795-1821
I thought I knew all about words, all about language (when one is a child, one feels that one knows many things), but those words came as a revelation to me. Of course, I did not understand them. How could I understand those lines about birds' -- about animals' -- being somehow eternal, timeless, because they live in the present? We are mortal because we live in the past and in the future -- because we remember a time when we did not exist, and foresee a time when we shall be dead. Those verses came to me through their music. I had thought of language as being a way of saying thing, of uttering complaints, of saying that one was glad, or sad, and so on. Yet when I heard those lines (and I have been hearing them, in a sense, ever since), I knew the language could also be a music and a passion. And thus was poetry revealed to me."
from Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), This Craft of Verse

Tuesday, December 19, 2006



I have completed the semester - and none too soon. My studies had begun to impact my family. As I was in a theorem-mumbling, study-induced stupor, my oldest son finally proclaimed that he is going to develop the "Nice Value Theorem" as opposed to the "Mean Value Theorem" I kept repeating. Of course all of my children laughed uproariously whenever they heard me mumbling the term "Lipschitz Condition."

Now that it is December 19 and less than a week before Christmas, I can begin preparing for the holidays!

Ho! Ho! Ho! and away I go!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Busy Signal

For the next 10 days, if you check my blog, you will just get this "Busy Signal."

I am entering the busy-zone of exam week (and a half) as both student and teacher.

My motto for the next 10 days is:

I imagine I'll be much stronger by December 19!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hero Nomination

After class tonight I happened to walk out to the parking lot with a fellow student, and he shared with me something that happened in his class today.

He teaches in another town, one that has a reputation for crime, gang activity and families living in difficult and dysfunctional situations. In his class are many students who are especially low-achieving and have been dealt a pretty raw deal in life. One of his students had seen her father shot earlier this year.

He and I were discussing teaching as we walked, and in the middle of telling me about how he is approaching effective note-taking, he shared that he had been overcome today by a need to go deeper with his students as a group.

In the middle of class today he suddenly said, "Whatever you're doing right now, put it down. This is serious. I'm gonna go deep with you. I need your full attention up here. Do any of you play cards? Do any of you play domninoes?" When he got many "yes" responses, he asked, "What do you do when you get a really bad hand?"

The students were very honest with him. Some of the responses were:

"I give up."

"I get angry."

"I cheat."

"I quit."

He created a "web" on the board of the responses.

Then he looked at them and said:

"What do you do when you've been dealt a bad hand in life?"

Everyone got quiet.

He continued: "I know some of you wish you had a Dad. Others of you wish your mom and dad were together again. I know the situations many of you are in. I know what it is to have a hard life. One time my mom had no money and the cupboards were nearly bare. When she asked us what we wanted to eat, we said, 'Pancakes.' She didn't have any pancake mix, but she looked at what little was in the cupboard, and she made us pancakes out of whatever she could find, and you know what? They were the best pancakes we'd ever had."

Some of his students commented that maybe she had just been a really good cook. He responded that he didn't know about that, but that wasn't the point. She had looked in the cupboard, and, instead of looking at what wasn't there she figured out how to use what was there.

He then shifted the discussion back to games. He said, "You've given some comments about what you do when you get a bad hand at cards or dominoes. I play a lot of dominoes. If I get a bad hand, what I do is I start looking around. I look at what's out there. Instead of thinking of what I don't have, I look at what I do have and how it hooks in and how it can work together - that this connects here and then that will connect there and so on, and pretty soon I know how to play the hand, and I play the best I can."

He told me that by this time some of his students had begun crying and he began crying too. That must have been quite a sight because he is QUITE an imposing male presence (and I'm sure serves as a father figure to many of them).

He didn't share this to impress me. He shared this because his heart was overflowing after this had happened in his classroom today.

I know he's overloaded with work right now. Due to student population he was moved from 4th grade to 6th grade this year - all new curriculum to teach - VERY time consuming to prepare! He is going to school himself, working on a graduate degree at a campus more than an hour's commute from where he lives. He is concerned about teaching well, and he is concerned about his students' hearts.

He has no idea I have a blog nor that I am writing this, but I nominate sixth-grade teacher Eric C., a big man with a big heart, as a hero because in the midst of his own very busy life he is aware of other lives that need to be touched, and he reaches out and touches them. I can only imagine how different the lives of some of these students may turn out - differently than they could have turned out given their environment - because of his impact, care, and inspiration.

Kudos to you Eric!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Art in the Middle

It is a running joke with my students that I cannot draw a circle. Unfortunately it is often necessary for a math teacher to draw circles. The very best of my attempts end up looking like eggs - and really pathetic eggs at that! I just laugh right along with them and say, "There's a reason I teach math and not art!"

The artwork above is by my middle child, age 12 - merely some doodles he was doing in the car one day. It is clear that he gets his "art genes" from his father and not his mother!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Moved to December 3

Today was my day to sing in the Messiah, and as far as I'm concerned, that is my Christmas - and more - it is a taste of Heaven on earth.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fall and Finitude

My oldest son commented recently, "Mom, it's hard to believe I've only experienced 14 autumns. It's just weird to think I can put a number on it like that."

It does seem rather strange to think of the finite number of times we have experienced any given season or event - whether it be autumn or summer or Christmas or Thanksgiving.

A. E. Housman (1859-1936) was thinking along the same lines over a century ago:
Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Always Ourselves We Find in the Sea

maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

millie befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.

e. e. cummings (1894-1962)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happiness is . . .

. . . football on the beach

. . . running down dunes in childhood

. . . butterfly-filled skies

. . . toes in the tide

. . . a hammock and a good book

. . . no rain while tent camping

Photos: Pismo Beach, Thanksgiving weekend 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

All Fall Down

The beauty of my favorite season passes too quickly for me. The tree in our front yard produces brilliant yellow leaves that appear golden against the blue autumn sky. I can't get enough of that beauty. Sadly, it seems that in a week to 10 days after it reaches its full glory of color our tree is completely denuded of leaves, and only the bare skeletal branches remain.

Won’t you come and see
loneliness? Just one leaf
from the kiri tree.

—Basho, 1692

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to share one of my blessings with you: the laughter I enjoyed in reading the following post by my brother-in-law Dan who lives in Micronesia.

Among so many other blessings, I am thankful for Dan, for blogs which allow a sense of closeness even at great distance, for Dan's writing talent, and for the gift of laughter.


I gave Serlinda, my maid, some extra money yesterday for her birthday.

She responded with a full page note explaining that her birthday isn't until next week.

Within the note was this cryptic sentence:

"Also, Dan could you pay another bush for the toilet powl."

So, with respect to her request, I've been offering money to shrubs, but none of them have offered me powls of any kind.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


God can make use of all that happens. But the loss is real.

from Perelandra by CS Lewis 1898-1963

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Color of Water

The universe is an amazing place, but what I think of as one of the most fascinating marvels may seem quite commonplace to most people.

When I think that God came up with the idea of water, I am awed. Have you ever sat by a river and just contemplated the nature of water? Who would have thought of such a thing?

There is a color in water at certain times in certain places that is my favorite color. I don't have a name for it. It's not really blue, and it's not really green, and it's not really blue-green. It's translucent and sort of aquamarine but not quite aquamarine either. It's bright but not flashy; it has depth, but it's not dark. I know it when I see it, but it is not something I can always find when I go out looking for it.

I guess that's the way with a lot of things in life. The best things are often the things that show up by surprise and take your breath away but can't necessarily be found when you seek them out.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back to the Future?

I'm already IN the future.

. . . at least according to my youngest son (9). I'm trying to figure out what that means, but there is no sense asking him, because he doesn't engage in discussion about his comments, which is but one of his many quirks.

My youngest has always had quite a sense of humor, and that has now been combined with a very hyper stage that he has recently entered. He was being particularly hyper and funny a the dinner table the other night - a bit too much so, which caused me to comment that I could not wait to meet his future wife, who would certainly be a very special woman!

I then extended it and said I couldn't wait to see all of us in the future; he then made the statement, "Mom, you're already IN the future."

Coming from him, I don't know how to take that.

It might mean I'm "old" and as an adult am already in MY future. It might have a more philosophical meaning as in, "A moment has passed since you stated that, so you have moved into the future."

With him, you never know, and that is why I have to ponder this. He is the same child who at age 7 said, "Mom, it's really hard to think about when God started." On another day he began another statement by dismissing it before saying it: "Never mind, Mom. I was just going to ask you what you thought it would feel like not to exist, but then I realized I wouldn't be here to feel what it was like not to exist."

Having a bent towards the metaphysical myself, I get very excited about such ideas and want to converse with him, but when I ask him leading questions after such statements he will not go further with it, which drives me crazy! I sometimes think God is teasing me by having sent me a son whose mind is intrigued by the same kinds of thoughts as mine but who is unwilling to go beyond a single comment.
To further illustrated his personality, here is his idea of posing for a photograph:
Should he marry, his wife will certainly be a special person - as is he!

Back to "The Future:"

. . . was my son calling me old or was he being philosophical? Since he'll never tell, I think I'll assume the latter.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

temporary wierd stuff

Something is goofy with blogger. I've been trying to post lovely pictures to my last entry ever since I put it up. I've finally made some progress trying to get images to appear using html on my own rather than using blogger's non-functioning template, but you can see the messed-up results below, and right now I have to put fixing that in a holding pattern to get back to my homework.

I want these lovely pictures to illustrate the timelessness I spoke of, but I remain trapped in time . . .

. . . so for now, back to my research paper on what can be done to fix all the ills in math education in America!

Stay tuned (but it might be a while!)

Post Script:

Um . . . never mind. I got it to work. Procrastinating from writing a paper allows one to accomplish many things! I still haven't solved the ills of mathematics education in America, but now that the images are up (although somewhat imperfectly) I'll either have to get back to my paper or find some housework to procrastinate with instead. (I'm thinking the ills of math education in America will be solved first! - sorry Dave :-)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Eternal Now

Have you ever had such an experience of transcendence that you felt you had to say to the world, “You’re going to have to hold my place until I get back because I’m totally out of here?”

I think, if we are TRULY living beings, for each of us there is (or can be) something that brings us into the eternal now, something that takes us out of the world but at the same time makes us one with The World - with people of all times and places - with the heart of all things.

My transcendent experience is annually parceled out to me once a week for 5 weeks in November and December as our little local oratorio society practices and then presents Handel's Messiah.

For me it is the very real presence of Heaven on earth. As I participate I feel I leave my small world and in doing so become part of something much larger. I become part of all creation, of the very rocks of which would cry out if we were not praising God. I feel I become a part of every person who has ever sung this piece and that I become a part of every place where it has ever been sung. I feel like I am a part of every other person singing with me in that sanctuary as our different voices become one telling the story of the reconciliation of God with man, of a love for us so profound that God gave His own life to reconcile us to Himself, and of a time when we will all be in an eternal now in His presence.

Time and space disappear for me.

I’ve heard there is no time in Heaven, because Heaven is outside of time, so I imagine this is what Heaven will be like.

Today, as our annual practices began once more and I exited my small world and its concerns and entered paradise I made the same request as e.e. cummings (1894-1962)makes in his poem: "really unreal world,will you perhaps do the breathing for me while i am away?"
as any(men's hells having wrestled with)
man drops into his own paradise
whole and the green whereless truth
of an eternal now welcomes each was
of whom among not numerable ams

(leaving a perfectly distinct unhe;
a ticking phantom by prodigious time's
mere brain contrived:a spook of stop and go)
may i achieve another steepest thing--

how more than sleep illimitably my
--being so very born no bird can sing
as easily creation up all sky

(really unreal world,will you perhaps do
the breathing for me while i am away?)
Is there something that makes you truly alive, pulls you out of your little world, and leaves you so breathless that the world has to go on doing your breathing for you until you return?

I hope so. There’s nothing like it!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Some High Window

who are you, little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

e. e. cummings (1894-1962)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


What better day than Halloween to post pictures of the graveyard where Edgar Allen Poe, that inimitable master of the macabre, is buried? HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I've had a fascination with Poe ever since reading The Tell Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado in high school, seeing The Fall of the House of Usher and later memorizing The Raven . . .
"and my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted . . . NEVERMORE."
I never imagined I would have a chance to visit Poe’s gravesite, but thanks to Dan and Rohaizad I had that chance this summer – thanks guys for providing reason to go to Baltimore (the US premier of your wonderful musical) and for the tour and time together the next day – great stuff! (So, how do you celebrate Halloween in Micronesia?)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Laughing on Glory's Side

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

It's hard to believe it's been two years today. We're missing you Dad and thinking of you, but we know you've flown to Jesus and are laughing on Glory's side!

"Untitled Hymn" lyrics by Chris Rice 2004

Friday, October 27, 2006

Life Exists and You Are Here

Life exists

and identity.

The powerful play of life goes on, and YOU may contribute a verse.

I'd been thinking for a while of writing about poetry and its place and why it touches me so deeply - wanting to help others be so profoundly touched. I was watching "Dead Poet's Society" last night, and I was so struck by the following lines on so many levels that I want to write it down for myself and my readers.
We do not read and write poetry because it is cute.

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion

Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love; these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman:
“O me, O life of the questions
Of these recurring.
Of the endless trains of the faithless.
Of cities filled with the foolish
What good amid these,
O me, O life?”
"That you are here.
That life exists
And identity.
That the powerful play
Goes on,
And you may contribute
A verse."
"That the powerful play goes on, and YOU may contribute a verse."

What will your verse be?

Walt Whitman 1819-1892
Dead Poet's Society (1989) written by Tom Schulman; directedy by Peter Weir

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Real"ity Check

WARNING: This post contains material which the surgeon general has determined to be a health hazard to math-phobes due to its EXTREMELY FRIGHTENING nature. (Then again we are only 5 days away from Halloween, so perhaps this can serve as a good fright warm-up!)

I'm talking about "real" again. This class is abstraction built upon abstraction in the form of the theory needed to bring rigor to the underpinnings of the calculus.

Does anyone reading this see the above notes as concrete?

The reason I titled this post "reality check" is because the author of this textbook needs a "real"ity check. Here is a sentence from the text that made me laugh out loud:

"A thorough understanding of these topics on the real line will prove invaluable when they are encountered in MORE ABSTRACT SETTINGS."

Um . . . if this isn't abstract, what is it?!

And to think my algebra students ask me where they are going to use ALGEBRA in REAL LIFE!

PS Antonio, the last time I posted about "real" you asked why I only included a "sentence" rather than a "paragraph." Here's your paragraph, and here's a little pop quiz to keep you sharp. What does the "paragraph" here prove?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

All Things

I have many favorite trees. Rocks, trees and water have always been very restorative to my spirit. In contemplating them, I find myself ministered to in very specific ways.

I've watched the progress of this little tree over the course of many years, and I had always felt sorry for it, for what it had to overcome to grow, for the fact that it had been bent by the presence of the huge boulder in its way, for the barren place on which it is growing, for all its obstacles.

It finally dawned on me that as this tree grows, it is going to push that boulder over! It is this little tree that is going to triumph! This reminds me of Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Semi-related comment: this boulder reminds me of La flèche de Zénon by René Magritte.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bee Buzz

So, are you one of those people who can't stand to see "Rite" in the name of a company or "lite" on food packaging, or are you one who spells "night" as "nite." Do you prefer "thru" to "through" or does it make you want to tear your hair out? Is "enuf" enough, and is "enough" too much?

With the advent of instant messaging, people are moving more and more towards simplified spelling - very simplified. Do you think "u" will eventually replace "you" or that "r" will replace "are?"

Are you aware such changes have taken place all along? Do you wish we could go back to "dialogue" rather than today's accepted "dialog?" Do you prefer "colour" or "color," "behaviour" or behavior," "shoppe" or "shop?"

There are those that advocate a total overhaul of spelling in the English language. Usually there is a spike in articles about this issue around the time of the National Spelling Bee. Here is what one had to say:

Those in favor of simplified spelling say children would learn faster and illiteracy rates would drop if words such as "bomb," "comb" and "tomb" were spelled the way they sound. Opponents say a new system would make spelling even more confusing.

Eether wae, the consept has yet to capcher th publix imajinaeshun.

When "say," "they" and "weigh" rhyme, but "bomb," "comb" and "tomb" don't, wuudn't it maek mor sens to spel wurdz the wae thae sound?
Studies have been done that show that children in countries whose languages are more strictly phonetic learn to read faster than children learning English, yet so much meaning in words is in their roots, prefixes and suffixes. What would we lose and what would we gain in making sudden radical change? How would this impact individuals who already know how to read and write? Would all literature suddenly have to be republished with the new spelling (and at what cost)?

Yet we do now spell "doughnut" as "donut." "Centre" and "theatre" have reversed their final letters. In losing their u's, have "honour" and "labour" lost their "use" too, or are they still just as "useful?" Is anyone upset by the changes that have already taken place?

I, for one, am not ready for a spelling overhaul, but if you are all for it, you are in good company. Past proponents of this change include: Andrew Carnegie, John Dewey, Teddy Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster and Mark Twain (and this was LONG before the advent of IM'ing!).

Wat du u theenk? Wae n bi posting ur comment.

Hav a gr8 day!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Friends are Friends Forever

"Friends are Friends Forever" (Michael W. Smith)A great thing in life is how true friends can pick up right where they left off even if they have very different lives than 20+ years ago when they met in college, even if they live thousands of miles away, even if they see each other very infrequently. Whenever they get back together again it's like they've never been apart. It’s also cool to be able to support each other in prayer, which too reaches across the miles.Another great thing about true friends is that you can generate so much fun just by being together you can experience that incredible emotion of laughing so hard you nearly pee!

Those are the good times!

Thanks for the good times! Thanks for being there in the bad times! Thanks for your recent prayers!

Thanks for everything buddies!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Locating Atlantis

Atlantis: myth or reality?

There are actually scholars on both sides of the debate. The origin of information about Atlantis is in the works of Plato. Some think he created the idea of Atlantis (a thriving culture that was destroyed through the wrath of the gods) merely as a literary device to prove a point, but others scholar contend that the way Plato writes of Atlantis indicates fact not fiction. This is because his writing incorporates far more detail than would be necessary for a mere literary device and also because he has the characters in his writings (called Dialogues) refer to the story of Atlantis as "genuine history."

Well, whether fact or fiction, where would this "lost continent" have been? There is much speculation. The Mediterranean Island of Crete has been mentioned as a possibility because of the sudden disappearance of the Minoan culture there. The Mediterranean Island of Santorini, which was destroyed by a catastrophic volcano has also been suggested - as have the Bahamas, at whose surrounding ocean floor massive stone walls have been found.

The Bahamas just seem too far from the ancient world to be a possibility, and Crete and Santorini don't seem to make sense according to Plato's writings. Plato writes that Atlantis was beyond the "Pillars of Hercules" (what we know as the Straits of Gibraltar - the entrance to the Mediterranean). From Plato's geographical perspective, it makes sense that something "beyond" the Straits of Gibraltar would have been in the Atlantic Ocean ( . . . hmm, check out the name), not inside the Mediterranean. If you sail away from the Mediterannean and head west, you encounter the archipelago of the Azore Islands. This is another site that has been the focus of speculation, and, of course I have personal reasons for leaning towards this location. Could these islands (one of which is pictured here) be the mountain peaks that remain of Atlantis?

Literary device or history? You decide.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Get Real!

My posting pace has certainly slowed in the face of my studies! I'm about to head to campus for my first mid-term in Real Analysis (affectionately known as "Real").

In a few hours I will know for sure whether or not I "get real!"

As I've studied, I've actually come to have a favorite line from my notes, that I'm sure you would love to know about. Here it is:

I've always used the fact that math is a language, often quite a foreign language, as a way to reassure my own students that I understand what they are going through and to encourage them in how to approach it. Here is proof positive that math is a (foreign) language. It's a good thing I LOVE languages!

Now it's YOUR turn to "get real!" Try to translate that line. Oh, come on, give it a try. I won't test you on it! Click on comments to see the translation into English.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Wanwood Leafmeal

Spring and Fall

to a young child

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

(Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-1889)
photo: Rockford, Michigan 1986

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Autumn Chant

Now the autumn shudders
In the rose's root.
Far and wide the ladders
Lean among the fruit.

Now the autumn clambers
Up the trellised frame,
And the rose remembers
The dust from which it came.

Brighter than the blossom
On the rose's bough
Sits the wizened orange,
Bitter berry now;

Beauty never slumbers;
All is in her name;
But the rose remembers
The dust from which it came

(Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892-1950)
photos taken Rockford, Michigan 1987

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Two in a Row

What a week of celebrations! Happy 44th Mom and Dad!

Love, Heidi and fam

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thinking of You!

You know who you are! Happy Birthday from half a world away! We hope your day was as good as it could possibly be!

Love, Heidi and fam

Take on Me

. . . or should I say, "Take Me Away?!"

Here I sit surrounded by 270 pages of essay tests I need to grade as well as my own unfinished homework - ten-page grad proposal that is due - professional growth substantiation to write up. There are dishes in the sink, dust on the shelves, dirt on the floor, piles of clothing to be hung up, laundry to put away, stacks of papers and mail to go through . . . Back to school night is tonight as are chruch activities . . .

I'm in need of a blast from the past to take me back to a simpler time!

Although I was part of the first generation of teens to whom MTV was available, I was never much interested in music videos, but this one, "Take on Me," I REALLY like (check it out - it really is good!), and right now, watching it is making me feel younger and giving me brief escape from the pressures of the moment.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dutchaguese Dreamer

I love having a very diverse heritage. Half of my family is Portuguese/Catholic, and half of my family is Dutch/Protestant. It is really cool to be part of both worlds.

As a child I was much more immersed in the Dutch/Protestant part of my heritage, so much so that at that time it felt like being Dutch/Protestant was “normal” (that’s what EVERYBODY was) and being Portuguese/Catholic, for reasons too many to fully list here, was exotic and romantic. (To illustrate this, I really should post a picture of my cousin as queen of the festa – pronounced “feshta.” My grandfather’s stories about his parents returning to their village to fulfill a “promesa” to God seemed romantic as well.)

The picture above is of the Azore Island of Pico (pronounced “peak”). My dream as a child was to visit the Azore Islands, where my Portuguese ancestors came from – sort of an Atlantic version of Hawaii. I’ve recently heard it described as a combination of Hawaii and Ireland. Beauty aside, as a child I wanted to go there because it seemed like a hidden part of myself was calling me there to find some secret half of me I didn’t fully know.

Growing up, I felt I didn’t entirely belong in either world. Imagine having the last name Fernandes and attending a church entirely populated with Dutch people. Imagine visiting Portuguese relatives and being Protestant. (Back then I didn’t want to celebrate being different. I just wanted to fit in, as I think most children do!) In these settings I felt at times like I was only half of what I should have been, but now, instead of feeling halved, I feel doubled – doubly blessed.

As an adult I see and revel in the richness and romance in both sides of my heritage, but the little child inside Dutchaguese me still dreams of visiting the Azores someday. Given this picture, can you blame me?

(For a post with other images, click here.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Quirky Goals

In the spirit of my last post, I thought I'd list some of my more unique life goals.
1) Attain a finite Erdös number
2) Prove Goldbach
3) Build a full 52 card poker deck of "found cards"
(I'd also really like to author a book that is published by a major publishing company, but I think that's less quirky and more common.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Celebration of Eccentricity

Quirkiness is a great gift, and I admire people who show their eccentricity rather than marching in conformity like bland cloned “sheeple.” We are each created unique, and that is something to be CELEBRATED!

Get out of the Conga Line and dance to the beat of your own drummer! Stand up; stand out. Do random acts of kindness. Right wrongs. Celebrate life! Poet Walt Whitman wrote “The Song of Myself.” He found his song. What’s yours? You have one! Find it! Sing it! Sing like no one’s listening!

(If you need some inspiration, CLICK HERE and check out someone singing like no one’s listening! It’s kind of scary at first, but it grows on you. In fact, a good start to finding your own song might be watching this a few times and rocking out in front of your computer! Then go from there.)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Personal List (שבת של׀ם)

This is a list of verses that are particularly meaningful to me right now.
It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us FREE. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . . Romans 12:2
. . . we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death but that was to make us RELY not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; He delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. II Corinthians 8b-10
See, I am doing a NEW thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh my LORD, I am not eloquent, either heretofore or since thou hast spoken to thy servant; but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Exodus 4:10-12
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment . . . Galatians 5: 7&10
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
So there remains a SABBATH REST for the people of God; for whoever enters God’s REST also ceases from his labors as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9
He brought me out into a broad and spacious place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:19
And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? NOW you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” Numbers 11:23
Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me FREE. Psalm 118:5
It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Friday, September 08, 2006

Great Question

My grad studies are now fully underway. I'm in my twentieth year of teaching, fourteenth at the college level, and it's been really strange to sit in the seat of the student and have someone hand ME a syllabus! It's pretty cool to see how other instructors run their classes and to see their quirks. (The price of books and the unavailability of student parking has not been fun, but it sure has given me opportunity to empathize with my own students.)

When I arrived home today from attending my night class, my 12-year old asked me, "Mom do you ever get confused and go up to the front and start teaching when you're supposed to be the student?"

I thought that was a pretty cool question!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mathematical Koan

A koan is a story, dialog, question, or statement generally containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet that may be accessible to intuition. A famous koan is, "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?"

After you've pondered that for a while, try this true/false math quiz koan:
Determine whether the following sentence is true or false:

"This sentence is false."
(If that isn't hurting your brain, you answered incorrectly.)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Time" (Follow-Up Part 2)

. . . omniscience born of time . . . I am the past and the present . . . fused by one flicker of a camera lens . . .

I feel old, young, omniscient and humbled in looking at this photograph. It is of my great-grandparents and the first four of their ten children. I think of the reality of that day for them – how they arrived at the studio (car? buggy? on foot?) – what they did afterwards (dinner? work? conversation? argument?) – what building the studio was in, what it looked like from the outside – who the photographer was – if the kids were cooperative or not.

I know so little.

I know so much.

I know that they will eventually have ten children evenly split between girls and boys. I know of sorrows to come, and joys, how many anniversaries they will celebrate, and that he will live to see 100 but that she will not. I know that most of their children make it into their nineties and many of the accomplishments and joys and sorrows their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren will experience.

Yet that was a real day, a real time, before all this other was known or could be known.

There is a poem by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001) in which she expresses these same things in looking at a photograph of her parents. She puts it so much better than I can. This is a long poem. Read it as a story rather than a poem. Think of her as a friend who has just found a picture of her parents and is talking out loud with you present.
Family Album
(On a photograph of my father and mother just married)

My parents, my children:
Who are you , standing there
In an old photograph – young married pair
I never saw before, yet see again?
You pose somewhat sedately side by side,
In your small yard off the suburban road.
He stretches a little in young manhood’s pride
Broadening his shoulders for the longed-for load,
The wife that he has won, a home his own;
His surging powers hidden as spring, unknown,
But surging in him toward their certain birth,
Explosive as dandelions in the earth.

She leans upon his arm, as if to hide
A strength perhaps too forward for a bride,
Feminine in her bustle and long skirt;
She looks demure, with just a touch of flirt
In archly tilted head and squinting smile
At the photographer, she watches while
Pretending to be girl, although so strong,
Playing the role of wife (“Here I belong!”),
Anticipating mother, with man for child,
Amused at all her roles, unreconciled.

And I who gaze at you and recognize
The budding gestures that were soon to be
My cradle and my home, my trees, my skies,
I am your child, staring at you with eyes
Of love and grief for parents who have died;
But also with omniscience born of time,
Seeing your unlined faces, dreams untried,
Your tentativeness and you brave attack,
I am no longer daughter gazing back;
I am your mother, watching far ahead,
Seeing events so clearly now they’re gone
And both of you are dead, and I alone,
And in my own life now already past
That garden in the grass where you two stand.

I long to comfort you for all you two
In time to come must meet and suffer through,
To answer with a hindsight-given truth
The questions in those wondering eyes of youth.
I long to tell you, starting on your quest,
“You’ll do it all, you know, you’ll meet the test.”

Mother compassionate and child bereft
I am; the past and present, wisdom and innocence,
Fused by one flicker of a camera lens
Some stranger snapped in laughter as he left
More than a half a century ago –
My children, my parents.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Time" (Follow-Up Part 1)

As promised yesterday, a poem about time:
If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose all the lions get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

(W. H. Auden 1907-1973)
I love this form of poetry, the villanelle. I also like the sentiment. Although time is so cruelly tight-lipped about the future and reasons for things and fortune, the poet, out of his deep love would share these things if he knew them.

( . . . but from what I know of physics and time travel and potential ramifications of such knowledge, I think it's probably a good thing he isn't able to do so!)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Time in a Bottle

I remember crying buckets as a child when I first heard Jim Croce’s song Time in a Bottle. Thinking about the passage of time impacted me even when I was very young.

I’m thinking a lot about Time today.

You know how Time meanders and turns over on itself:
- how you still have nightmares about being in high school and not being able to find your locker even though you wake up to find yourself (shockingly!) in your forties

- how you can’t figure out how your toddler suddenly became a teenager - yet you can still see him clear as can be as an infant – can almost reach out and touch his baby face - long to snuggle him like you used to (seemlingly yesterday) but can't lift him anymore

- how your mind wanders and you consider visiting older relatives, then you suddenly realize that generation is gone, but it seems they can’t be because those are people who were always part of life - how you're not the kid anymore but are moving closer and closer to the top of that waterfall of generations
(Well, maybe some of you can’t imagine these things YET, but someday you will. Trust me!! Time, like the "ever-rolling stream" it is WILL bring you there!)

Well, since I’m immersed in thinking about the stream of Time today, my blog is going to be LONG and is going to BABBLE like a stream. Don't say I didn't warn you! (Feel free to read the long paragraph really fast, because it is a stream - a stream of consciousness. Reading it fast might even add to the effect of rafting on rapids.)

Here is why I’m thinking about Time:

My oldest son began high school today (how did that happen?!). It seems like yesterday he was a baby. Fourteen years have passed, and in only 4 more (D.V.) he will be leaving home for college. I don’t like that ratio, especially when I think of how quickly the first fourteen years went. (Speaking of time, I just googled “D.V.,” and on the first page nothing refered to “Deo Volente,” so I guess it is an anachronism; I had to type in the full “Deo Volente” to find reference to it.) I begin another semester of teaching tomorrow – new faces replacing the ones from last semester – same seats, same room, same teacher, same topic, but new faces brought in by the stream of time. My sister and brother-in-law were married a year ago this weekend, were together on a honeymoon, but the passage of time to today has them separated by a world of distance, but given more time they’ll be reunited. Time is a weird thing. Yesterday was my birthday. As a mathematician, I like the date 8/27 or 2-cubed/3-cubed. During my party, Mom shared with me that my due date was September 12. I’m glad I arrived when I did, because I like the numbers. (See I told you this was going to be babbling! Don’t say I didn’t warn you! I sense deja vu! Did I say that already?) Speaking of meandering streams, I thought of a friendship that began 13 years ago last week (the significance of any number not being lost on me), and it reminded me that we can never see ahead in time, only backwards. The current only flows one way. My mother-in-law turns 70 tomorrow (WOW!), and my youngest niece reaches double digits for the first time on the SAME day. Next year my husband and I will celebrate our twentieth anniversary. Wait a minute! That sounds like a number my parents should be celebrating, but, um, I guess since I just turned 41 that doesn’t work mathematically. I remember when my parents celebrated their twentieth. How did I get as old as my parents? I’m beginning a graduate program next week. It should take me 3 years to complete. People assure me it will be over in no time. That’s great! Wait. I don’t want the next 3 years to fly by because that means in only 1 more I’ll be sending my first son away from home and off to college. And so, my meandering thoughts have circled me back where I started, with my son beginning high school today.

A topic like this is just crying out for a poem. I had a long poem in mind, but since the blog was so long, I feel a short poem is in order. I’ll save the longer one for tomorrow.

Carpe Diem

Carpe diem, ‘Sieze the Day’
And I do not want to hear you say
Memento Mori
That’s another Story

(by David Darbyshire 6/11/54)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Love at a Distance

Happy Anniversary to my dear sister and brother-in-law who are celebrating their FIRST anniversary today - but from half a world apart because of his service to our country. From Heidi and family, love and congratulations to both of you on your first year, and thank you for your sacrifice!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Short Again

My oldest son and I both read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlho this summer, and it reminded me of this long-time favorite excerpt from Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965).

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Romance and Camels

No . . . you read it right. It DOES say “Romance and Camels” not “Romance and Candles.”

(Although the second certainly makes more sense, doesn’t it? Well, at least to most people it does!)

As a dreamy-eyed teenager I used to imagine what it would be like to fall in love. The central part of that dream was that the man I loved would read me poetry (well, duh!). Eventually I did fall in love, but somehow this guy never got the idea he should be reading me poetry. Shocking! Unbelievable!

After we’d been dating a few months I felt comfortable enough to address the issue and say, “It would be so meaningful to me if you would read me poetry.” To my surprise he got up off the couch immediately and without a word and headed towards the bookshelf. I closed my eyes in anticipation of THE supreme pinnacle of romanticism, my dearest wish, and the centerpiece of my dreams.

He returned, sat down, and began to read:
They’ve put a brassiere on the camel,
She wasn’t dressed proper, you know.
They’ve put a brassiere on the camel
So that her humps wouldn’t show.
And they’re making other respectable plans,
They’re even insisting the pigs should wear pants,
They’ll dress up the ducks if we give them the chance
Since they’ve put a brassiere on the camel.

They’ve put a brassiere on the camel,
They claim she’s more decent this way.
They’ve put a brassiere on the camel,
The camel had nothing to say.
They squeezed her into it, I’ll never know how,
They say that she looks more respectable now,
Who knows what they’ve got in mind for the cow,
Since they’ve put a brassiere on the camel.

(poem & image from “A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein)

I still married the guy . . .

. . . and it’s the best decision I ever made!

Post Script: After 19 years of marriage I have come to realize that a sense of humor is MUCH more important than a sense of romance.

Post Post Script: NEVER close your eyes!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

So SO sorry, but I CAN’T resist

I realize this post is probably incredibly socially inpet, but I just received the highest praise I can imagine, and I want to share it.

I was wandering around the house singing songs I’d just heard, and my 14-year-old son said, “Mom, why don’t you sing songs on the radio?” I was sure he MUST have been being sarcastic, so, in order to be sure of his tone I asked, “What did you just say?” He said, “Seriously, Mom, you should sing songs on the radio!”


Granted, he IS a sweetheart, but realize this was coming from a . . . TEENAGE . . . BOY . . . to his MOTHER . . . who was walking around the house singing randomly. I think it’s one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received and something I will treasure.

Don’t worry. Not only will I not let it go to my head, but you may also rest assured that I have no plans to pursue a recording contract! The air waves are safe (well . . . from me at least). Sorry, I have no control over the actions of Paris Hilton.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Heads AND Tails

As of today I am officially accepted (once again – but later in life) to grad school.

What I mean by “heads AND tails” is that I will be experiencing both sides of the education coin at the same time.

My memory seems to be failing me as I nearly wrote that this is the FIRST time I will be in grad school AND employed as a teacher simultaneously, but that’s not true – did that 18 years ago. (I guess I’d better hurry up and get through the program before dementia sets in further!) It just feels like a first for me because this time I am the mother of three children. That will certainly make it a whole new experience. We will see how good a juggler I am!

I’m excited. Of course it always feels good to be "accepted!" I’m ALWAYS eager to LEARN more. I am also enjoying looking ahead to the potential outcome of this course of study – writing, consulting, further teaching. I’m eager not only to learn the material but also to glean some ideas from watching others teach.

I’ve always been a very, very understanding and sympathetic teacher (while yet maintaining important standards). I wonder if doing this "heads and tails" thing will make me ever more understanding of my students or if it will make me less patient with excuses. Only time will tell.

Speaking of time, once this all begins, my lovely new hobby of blogging will have to take a bit more of a back seat with posts being a bit fewer and further between, but they will certainly keep coming. I’m sure as I learn more I will have more ideas percolating that I want to get out there.

Here’s to new paths and new learning!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Infinite YES! (לחיים)

I know what it means to be held.

I see the blue dream of sky with my eyes awake and hear green leaves dancing with open ears, and on this day of all days I echo this poem’s infinite YES!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

Held (לחיים)


The Problem of Pain” is one of the most compelling arguments atheists have against belief in God. It goes like this: “If God is all-powerful He can keep suffering from happening; if He is all-loving, He would want to do so. The Holocaust occurred. A tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people. Child abuse, spousal abuse and elder abuse are rampant. Thousands of innocent children die every year of cancer. How could an all-powerful, all-loving God allow this? There must not be such a being.”

“The Problem of Pain” impacts Christians as well. There are some who have an underlying sense that faith, good works, and prayer give an element of protection to them. When hit with REAL long-term suffering – truly appalling suffering – an endless nightmare of suffering - the sound of silence from God - no forthcoming good outcome and no rescue, believers of this type are entirely bewildered. In their state of shock they may still spout platitudes because it’s the only thing they know how to do, meanwhile undergoing an internal spiritual death. Even for those with a deeper, more realistic faith this level of suffering can shake life, self and belief to the core.

Many books have been written on “The Problem of Pain,” and they contain good thoughts, ideas and approaches, but none really adequately address the issue. There is no answer to be found here, but the issue can and should be faced and dealt with honestly as it is in the lyrics below (Christa Wells 2001):

Two months is too little;
They let him go.
They had no sudden healing.
To think that Providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling!

Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?

We’re asking why this happened to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair!

This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive;
This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


The title of this post is “A,” as in “Q&A,” so if you haven’t read “Q” yet, check it out.

This image isn’t a meteor or disguised space-craft or a catapulted rock. In fact, this boulder is not moving at all. This painting by René Magritte (1898-1967) is entitled La flèche de Zénon (Zeno’s Arrow).

Why “Zeno’s Arrow?” This is a boulder not an arrow.

Well, Zeno (490BC-425BC) is known for his paradoxes dealing with motion, two at least “proving” that motion is impossible.

1) DICHOTOMY PARADOX: In order to move a given distance an object must reach the halfway point, but before it travels from the starting point to the halfway point it must get halfway there, and before it reaches that point . . . (you see where this is going – nowhere!). If space can be infinitely divided, then an infinite number of time intervals must pass before an object moves any given distance, therefore it cannot move.

2) ARROW PARADOX: When an arrow is in a place just its own size, it’s at rest. At every moment of its flight, the arrow is in a place just its own size. Therefore at every moment of its flight, the arrow is at rest (i.e. not moving).

Although it seems gravity should pull the boulder into the ocean, according to these paradoxes the boulder is at rest and will remain so.

These paradoxes may sound silly (since you know that things actually do move), but try disproving them logically! If they don't work, why not?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


What is this?

- a boulder catapulted towards the ocean?
- a meteorite?
- the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs?
- an alien spacecraft in disguise?
- another planet with different graviation?
- a VERY heavy raincloud?
- something else?


Monday, August 07, 2006

To an Imperfect Life!

WARNING! CONSPIRACY! The dental health profession has a goal of world conquest!

. . . or at least that’s how it seems around here lately . . .

Somehow dental care has reached critical mass similar to a black hole. That, combined with the number of people in this home (including 2 in braces), has produced a gravitational pull so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it!

Pre-conspiracy dental care meant making an appointment 6 months (or less!) in advance for a biannual cleaning and orthodontists who said, “Let’s not put braces on your bottom teeth. Nobody sees them anyway.”

Not so now! Scheduling cleanings has gone from 6 months in advance - to a year in advance - to a year and a half in advance! A YEAR AND A HALF IN ADVANCE?! I've never scheduled ANYTHING a year and a half in advance!

With braces, a cleaning is really THREE appointments, not one: 1.orthodontist: wires off, 2. hygienist: cleaning, 3. orthodontist: wires on (multiply this by two and add the fact that one child needs cleanings 4 times a year instead of twice and that the offices are across town from each other and the half hour drive back to school and . . .). My children never miss school due to illness or vacation, but dental care ensures they will never earn the perfect attendance award. And so far I’m only talking about cleanings!

Orthodontia – where to begin?! Often there are MULTIPLE appointments in a single week, but the time inconvenience pales in comparison to the contraptions in my sons’ mouths, devices which would make even the Marquis de Sade shudder! I’ll limit myself to naming only ONE piece of this complicated apparatus: the “spike strip.” (Isn’t that what they use to shred tires in police pursuits?)

It seems EVERY teen I see has or has had braces. Are ALL OF US really born with mouths that are THAT messed up? Did the Creator blow it THAT badly on this one piece of our anatomy? Is this medically necessary, or is it a conspiracy, all of us having been collectively brainwashed that a perfect smile is de rigueur?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m tremendously grateful for excellent dental care. I certainly don’t want my children developing painful issues such as TMJ syndrome or needing false teeth. I’m simply scared of what this unprecedented time-sucking vacuum portends. My fear is that at the heart of this exists some phenomenal top-secret PR firm. If so, I tremble at the prospect of other health professionals - chiropractors, podiatrists, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. getting the secret phone number. If TEETH have become THIS important, what about the SPINE, the FEET (foundations of the body), or the BRAIN?! I’ll leave it to you to imagine the implications.

Life is short, and as nice as it is to be as perfect as possible, I’d rather spend what precious little time I’m allotted on this planet LIVING rather than slavishly following my appointment book and losing my minutes and hours and days to transportation, waiting rooms, and appointments.

Down with the conspiracy! Give me my time! Let me and my family live life imperfect to the fullest!

Today is Monday, August 7, 2006 . . . and do I know whether “morning” or “afternoon” would be "better" on Thursday, March 6, 2008?


Sunday, August 06, 2006

To the Reader


As you read, a white bear leisurely
pees, dyeing the snow

and as you read, many gods
lie among lianas: eyes of obsidian
are watching the generations of leaves,

and as you read
the sea is turning its dark pages,
its dark pages.

Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Holding On and Letting Go

“If my hands are fully occupied in holding on to something, I can neither give nor receive.”

- Dorothee Soelle (1929-2003)

This quote hangs in my office - a reminder of a destination I needed to reach. For many years my "hands" were fully occupied holding onto something I sensed as a priceless treasure - something seemingly godly and good, but this did leave me unable to give or receive the blessings of the fullness around me. The path to letting go was unspeakably long and painful, but I have finally arrived at the destination: freedom, release, and outstretched open hands through which God’s grace can flow. As I journeyed, the quote above and the poem below were signposts, glimpses of the destination, reminders to journey on.


Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

(Jane Kenyon 1990)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Remembering Katie

Yesterday, August 1, would have been her birthday, the birthday of my first best friend. In the past that would have meant my family and I would be taking her out to dinner. In typical fashion, she would have tried to share her dinner with the rest of us (so that she would have room for what was most important: dessert!).

I came across a news piece recently about a woman who is 116 years old. That article and the fact that it's the time of year for Katie's birthday have brought her especially strongly to mind. Were she still living, she too would be 116. Yes, my first best friend was 75 years older than I, but that was never an issue. As a toddler I would ask her to come over and make mud-pies in my sandbox, so she called me her “little mud-pie girl.” She didn't quite make 116, but she did live to be 95, giving me the privilege of a 20-year friendship with her.

Born in 1890, this very special lady witnessed a lot of amazing history. Cars, airplanes and computers were all invented during her lifetime. She became a teenager the year the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. She was 16 at the time of the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake – and living in San Francisco! It wasn't until she was in her twenties that there was a “war to end all wars," which, of course, had to be renamed World War I after we ended up having a World War II.

Katie had been widowed very young but often spoke of her “hubby.” I had so hoped to introduce her to my hubby, but she passed away 2 years before my wedding. Katie had no children, and as far as I know the only family she had was one nephew who has also now passed away. Although she has no living relatives and was not widely known, she is not yet forgotten. I imagine not many people visit her grave, but I do.

When I look at her headstone, I feel sad, but I feel something else too.

Her middle initial “R” is there between her first and last names. Even if someone passing by were to notice her small headstone, only a handful could possibly know what the “R” stands for.

I am one of those few.

Her middle name was Rebecca, and when I see that “R” and whisper her name, I feel there remains a little secret shared between my first best friend and her little mud-pie girl.

After 21 years I still miss you Katie.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Blast from the Past (Audio Quiz #1)

Guess the animated chacter:

1) Character #1

2) Character #2

3) Character #3

Guess the TV show from its theme song:

1) Show #1

2) Show #2

3) Show #3

Guess the TV show from a clip:

1) Show #1

2) Show #2

3) Show #3

(Answers will be listed in the comments section in a day or two :-)