Friday, March 30, 2012

ID Help

3 '12

I know most of you immediately thought I needed help with Intelligent Design info, but I really need help identifying this new bird that came to my feeder.

I do not see her in any of my bird books. Any ideas?

Alone . . .

Today I passed you on the road. Our eyes didn’t meet through the tint, but I caught the outline of your face as you whisked by. What thoughts were you thinking in your shiny new car? Are you a real person like me, blood and bone, or only an actor in a Truman-type world—a prop for the life I think I’m living? Did you go home to your cozy suburban two-story where laundry and dirty dishes await? Just like me? I wonder if you care about me. This “other” that shares your space, approximates your life, almost touching but not.

My house is on a street with about twenty-five others. Every one has a sycamore out front and a dog in the back. My house is in a neighborhood with about two hundred others, in a city of many more, street upon street, warp and woof. We are many but alone. We are community but not communal, living in isolated bubbles, protected from anything real and vital. We share common roads but no common history.

We shop at the same markets and buy the same goods. Our flesh glides by each other granting slight neighborly smiles, but distance is maintained by inches. A force keeps us apart, repelled like same ends of a magnet. How can we be so many, so close, yet so alone?

Once in awhile real contact is made—a brief moment of connection, a fire flicker. But more often than not the circle closes in, the fire extinguishes, and we go our own ways. But what is the value of our own ways if we live our days in Solomon moments, meaningless steps on a treadmill, caring less and less about those around us and more and more about our protected space.

A neighbor almost died last year. I didn’t know. She had alienated us over the years with unkind words and tall fences. When I heard, we had a talk. I took her some homemade bread. Another neighbor tried to commit suicide. I didn’t know. I heard through the rumor mill months after the fact. She still doesn’t know that I know.

We use city water that’s pumped into our homes—a shared resource. But we seem to suck up our own private wells of comfort in times of suffering. I wonder if it’s enough?

In my house, we have a thriving ant community. They mysteriously appear from nowhere to plague me with their sheer numbers. I spray and kill, yet their presence never seems diminished. What’s strange about these ants is that they carry off their dead. What do they do with fragments of bodies?

Sometimes I think they must be cannibals, and in taking home fallen brothers slathered in lemon fresh cleaner, they guarantee a feast for the folks who have kept the home fires burning. Other times, I wonder if with their strong sense of colony and community they take their dead home to honor brave fallen foragers complete with little markers, tears, and eulogies. Do they feel the loss of one as the loss of all?

In faraway places, there are tribal communities whose lives are interconnected because of their dependence on one another for life itself. Their survival depends on community. They live and move together and share a common story passed down to wee ones. I wonder if our wealth and technological advances are such an improvement to their quality of life. We might have fuller bellies but emptier hearts.

It’s not that they are the noble savages and we should wear loincloths and adopt all their ways. They have other deep dark needs, but their lifestyle imposed upon them by geography and physical poverty has put them in a position of needing one another. Even with our bank accounts and cars and houses, we need one another, too. Just as badly. But in our affluence, we have lost that critical sense of need. There are just too many fences.

Today I passed you in the aisle. Our eyes didn’t meet. You glanced beyond and through me, intent on something else. Are you a real Christian like me, or merely a prop in this body-life I think I’m experiencing? I wonder if you care about me—this “other” that shares your pew, shares your worship, shares a ritualistic hug, almost touching but not. Are you afraid of knowing who I really am? Or are you afraid of being known?

We are called brothers and sisters, family. But it feels like there’s been a divorce. We walk as aliens—not only as aliens in this world, but also as aliens in Christ’s church. We are community without communion. We worship in isolated bubbles, protected from real and vital fellowship. We share a common history but no common roads. We are many but we walk alone. As it is in the neighborhood, so it is in the church. We are alone in a crowd.

People need people. There is a sickness in isolation that infects the mind, the body, and the spirit. There is a weakness, a degeneration, in self-centered individualism. If we have no vital connection to the church, how can we grow in strength of faith and character? How can we embrace the joy that comes with a sense of belonging? If we have no genuine connection to our community how can we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? How can we earn the right to offer them life in Christ except in desperate kamikaze runs that put “spiritual” notches on our belts?

If we continue, out of fear, to build more fences instead of tearing down old ones, if we do not risk rejection by expanding the borders of our lives, we will continue to walk in longing and loss. Alone.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Lips

For a hand up
and appropriate sympathy for my groans and puffs,
for prayers and vacuuming and laundry and such,
and now these happy flowers to cheer my lagging spirits:
So for tulips, I may give him mine.

The Effects of the Fall


(Now if you believe in Adam and Eve and the fallen nature of man, you got that title and thought it was ever so clever . . . or not. If you don’t believe, pretend it’s a seasonal piece.)

I thought perhaps I’d humored out on broken rib posts, but given that the pain meds were giving me too many side effects, and given that I hurt more than ever, I figured I better milk it a bit longer before the little white shooting lights come back.

The following are painful observations:
  • If there is a 50-50 chance of hitting the trash can with your rubbish, you will always miss, simply because it hurts too much to lean over and pick it up.
  • If there is a 100 % chance of hitting it, the same rule applies. See above.
  • If you are gimpily trying to put some food together for a raw, organic, nutrient dense lunch (That last part was propaganda.), you will undoubtedly drop most items on the floor because a broken rib somehow makes brains and hands impotent. If the item is edible, call the dog. If the item is inedible and unimportant in say anything short of contributing to world peace, kick it under the stove.
  • If in the tiniest of print under “Contraindications,” you notice that 1-2% of test subjects experience swelling, Bubonic plague, cramps, bleeding, headaches, Tourette outbursts (but only in euphemisms), and those little shooting lights, be advised to return it to your pharmacy. A broken rib uses the new math where 2% = always.
  • Breaking a rib is like the Butterfly Effect and will set off all manner of weird occurrences from leaking pipes in the wall to neighbor’s car alarms repeatedly going off to rising gas prices to earthquakes. (Somebody tell Mexico and Chile I’m sorry!)
  • My friend recommended fresh parsley tea to help with one of the side effects that will remain nameless; and I must say, it is right up there with lemongrass. I envision a whole grass section at Starbucks in the not too distant past.
  • Since I can’t take the heavy-duty brain, liver, and bladder destroying narcotics anymore, I’m trying a homeopathic remedy, which seems to be helping some. Problem: You must take it a half hour after having eaten or drunk, and not eat or drink for another half hour. Take 12 to 24 to 480 times a day. Now you do the math. I’m hobbling for the hormone-free ice cream because if I want that miniscule relief in my pain quotient, I need to do it now!
So there you have it: Another installment in “Lost—the Next Generation.” I already have the tea (parsley), now for the sympathy . . .

I couldn’t go to weather, so . . .


I couldn’t go to weather,
so weather kindly came to me.
(Sounds almost Emily Dickinson-ish, don’t you think?)

Even with a broken rib,
I hobbled front and back and bedroom bath
to catch the wind and sun kissed clouds,
scudding across the sky, dodging raindrops.

There was only a 40% chance of rain,
and it was 40%-ing all over the place,
right above my head!

Endorphins heightened with every digital capture,
me in my wet socks and scruffy robe
(wonder what the neighbors thought),
me in my bed hair and hunched pain–but
better than pills,
and better than sulks is weather,
and it kindly stopped for me.

Sunday Offering

The world turns,
and molten light swallows up the darkness of night.
Hope rises as the sun rises.

The Battle of Wounded Me

(Tonight's sunset: I may be injured, but not so much I can't hobble out and capture cool skies. It's like the Hubble Telescope, only with a Hobble.)


1. A hiccup is as painful as a sneeze. Not that you could stop either even if you wanted to.

2. Right turns in the car are the worst, so have husband only turn left. It could be a long ride home.

3. Find out why time passes slowly when you hurt or are in the dentist’s chair, but quickly vanishes on vacation. Ask a scientist or a philosopher.

4. Dismiss any kid from class who has an injury worse than yours. It will diminish your sympathy quotient.

5. Find out why the meds given to help with pain inflict more pain in the way of migraines, not to mention acute liver failure or dementia probably sometime down the road. At least, I’ll know who to blame, if I can remember. Ask a friend. Do not ask a doctor.

5. Find out why when you go to the doctor because of an increase in pain, she hounds you about your LDL. As if I care when I’m dying. Do not ask a doctor. Ask a lawyer.

6. When you are already in a deep whine, do not share said whine with husband. He will try to cheer you up with jokes when all you need is a good cry. If you get the jokes, you will still get the cry because laughing hurts–almost as much as hiccupping and sneezing and burping and moving and living.

The title is meant to be a clever allusion for humor’s sake and is not meant to disparage Amerindians or Kevin Costner’s role in Dances with Wolves, so leave me alone. Venting is a form of homeopathic health. At least, that is what I am telling myself. And don’t ask the husband. Ask me!

(This was taken this morning on the way to work--sacrificing for art y'all! Notice the cool circle rainbow.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to Survive Breaking a Rib

(Picture of neighbor's cute dog, which has absolutely nothing to do with this post. And I don't care; it's my blog!!)

Obviously, preventing the incident in the first place is optimum. But having done the stupid bike trick of falling into the gutter and fracturing a rib, the following are survival tips to make it through the six-week recovery process:
  • Drugs. Legal, of course.
  • Only breathe as much as is necessary for survival. When deep breathing is prescribed by the doctor for torture and to prevent pneumonia, grimace so everyone knows you are not faking injury. If required, produce copies of your x-rays for more sympathy.
  • Learn to burp like a man. Good manners will hurt.
  • Never lie down. Or if you are lying down, never get up. If you really need to change positions, moan and groan and puff so everybody in the house knows exactly what this trip to the bathroom is costing you.
  • No coughing, sneezing or throat clearing. Drowning in your allergies is much preferred to the throbbing, excruciating, mind-numbing . . . well, you get the idea.
  • Stand up straight and suck in your stomach or you will stay hunched that way forever. Or was that what Mom said about rolling my eyes? Sorry, I have a drug-induced “can’t remember.”
  • Put off all chiropractor appointments for six months.
  • Put off all mammogram appointments for six months—a year if you can talk your primary care provider into it!
  • If husband insists on cracking jokes, give him his own cracked rib.
  • Once you can move your arms, write about it. It is somewhat cathartic . . . somewhat.
Clarification: Hubby does tell jokes that hurt, but he redeems himself by bringing me meds, ice packs, warm woobies, praying for me, staying in Urgent Care 4 1/2 hours with me, and being very sypathetic! He’s a keeper!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Must be worms . . .

Must be worms there after our
rain, hail, and snow storm
over the weekend because there’s a lot of pecking going on.
Now see this was just a sentence before,
but if I put it on separate lines,
profound poetry . . .
or not! :-) (What would life be without emoticons!)

Mr. Septic Skeptic

I saw you on Youtube—
so cocksure,
and controlled. (Notice my alliteration to stress the point!)
So sure, Mr. Skeptic, you seem to be–
but of course,with the absence of a fact checker to catch you up
in your rapid fire propaganda!
You pollute the airwaves (Or is it web waves?)
with your poisonous words,
your articulate particulates—breeding cancer for the soul, Mr. Septic Skeptic.
(Okay, I know the metaphors are a little strong.)
Your rehearsed rationale, your belittling barbs
are amazingly entertaining through your sardonic smile—
entertaining if you don’t stop to think
and just suck in all that
we are the world,
human solidarity,
evolutionary morality drivel,
well-framed comebacks and proud propositions,
hell-bent on disfiguring the face of the God you don’t believe in.
Crafty, your well-turned phrases and arrogant arguments.
Is this it then?
Not content with eating the fruit yourself, you must push it pell-mell on others
so that they too may enjoy this rapid descent to nihilism?
If I am in err in this lofty faith that gives me purpose,
I will have lost nothing, having lived a meaningful life.
You, however,
have wagered everything on this golden fruit,
this wormy fruit of disbelief,
and you stand to lose it all.
Oh, I know that doesn’t sound mushy lovey,
and the love card is certainly the tender underbelly of us faith-talkers,
but I’m still working on that one, okay? And you’re making it really difficult!

Party Invitation

You are invited to my pity party.
No gifts are needed; I have enough self-pity to go around!

A Day in the Life . . .


As I made the important decision this morning between Frosted Mini-wheats and egg and toast, you sobbed quietly in your hospital bed. Your tiny wisp of a child died in the night—born early. Your arms were empty.
While I perused the early morning aisles comparing prices, checking off my list, mentally mapping out the week’s menu, you hid in the rocks and bushes from rebel troops. Desperate mother hands tried to shush little mouths as men with guns threw your meager treasures about.

At lunch, I fixed my special fresh vegetable salad and diet soda, intent on being faithful to my weight-loss plan. You sifted through the dumpster in the alley for that one morsel that might relieve the silent gnawing—even for a moment.

I filled up with regular unleaded at 2:00, complaining all the while at the ridiculously high price of gasoline. I thought about writing a letter to the editor while you shifted sore and cracked feet along hot dirty paths. You were on your way to a refugee camp with so many other victims of the bloody civil war.

At 4:00, I berated myself for not having thawed meat for supper. What was I thinking! I decided to blow both the diet and the budget and go get burgers and fries. As I hopped in the car and popped in a blues CD, you made funeral arrangements for your young wife—mother of your three children, another breast cancer victim.

We slipped a comedy into the DVD player at 7:00 and laughed till we cried. We air-popped popcorn and refilled our sodas while you frantically performed CPR on your toddler. Minutes before, you had found him in the pool face-down, still wearing his Big Bird pajamas.

I gave myself a facial and dressed for bed. When I picked up my Bible for a few minutes of devotions, my eyes fell on the young lawyer’s question in Luke 10:29: “And who is my neighbor?” Mmm. Lord, I am to love You with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind. That seems a difficult enough task. But to love my neighbor, too, just like I love myself? Well . . . I’m not sure how to do that. Who is my neighbor, Lord . . . really?

I highlighted the passage, then placed my Bible back on the nightstand. As I switched off the light, you paced your prison cell—back and forth, back and forth. Fingering the seeping bandage, you wondered if you’d live through another day like this one, long enough to make parole.

. . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.
(Matthew 25:40 NIV)


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Impressions of Rain–> Rain-oir!

Since I am still quite sore and more or less housebound with my injuries, I am not able to run about in the wonderful rain we are having today to take pictures. So these are just from inside the living room and by the front door with as little gyrations as possible in the snapping.

Notice the lovely cracks in the window, which adds to the Renoir-ish design. We have the boom-boom of the Space Shuttle to thank for most of them. Should have sued NASA.

My Gift-horse

I scanned this picture, remembering–
mm . . . remembering how Goldy made me hate riding,
how my enchanted love was turned to fear and disdain
in one youthful summer and fall.

What my grandpa was thinking, I’ll never know.
Is it that throw ‘em in the pool and see ‘em swim kind of instruction?
Was it an ignorance of what thirteen-year-old horse lovers know?
Was he trying to cure me to give my parents a moment’s peace from begging?
Well, it worked.                   Cured!

To a furious lover of all things horse,
he gave me an animal that required a choke bit and blinders
because she was hard to control and reared at every groundhog hole.

And now here is poor sister, having mounted, excited for a first ride:
Goldy petulantly tears off through the front field, across the drainage ditch,
on and on; and on and on and on and on;
and when sister jumps off at a brief stop [[by the fence near the railroad tracks ]],
Goldy chases her already terrified skinny form so that she scrambles  [[]]]
across the fence –breathe, gasp, cry~~~~
to escape being bitten.

This was my temporary gift while Goldy was with foal.
This was my Grandpa’s way of making me accept responsibility –maybe.

The capstone to my horse dreaming: a call on the phone.
11 o’clock at night. A dark night.
An angry German-neighbor-type call
that did not appreciate said tyrannical mare toughening up black angus beef
by chasing cows back and forth—>
and back and forth through his German-neighbor-type fields.
Imagine a now just fourteen-year-old girl,
in the dark, chilled, in pajamas,
crossing the fields (the ones with groundhog holes!) –scared and alone,
bridle in hand, retrieving her demon under German scorn.

This was my temporary gift–a gift horse.
This was my Grandpa’s way of blessing me –maybe.

Is it any wonder that my heart **rejoiced** when Dad’s milk inspector
said the horse had to go –couldn’t house cows and horses together.
Taints the milk. Aw . . .

I heartily agreed. She had already tainted my soul!

Daddy’s Tears

Daddy was not one to cry needlessly, but when his kids were injured, sick, or received unfair treatment, he cried. When we made tacky Father’s Day cards, blue eyes misted. When he dropped me at college tears fell, and when I lost my baby, though miles away, in my heart I know he cried.

Once sitting in the airport waiting to board, the family started a round of good-byes. Daddy cried. I cried. Soon everyone was crying.

“He started it!” I blurted, pretending to lay blame. I was right. He did.

Overwhelmed with emotion, I made my way to the restroom to freshen up. I knew something was wrong when I saw the urinals. My eyes had been so blurry, I’d stumbled into the men’s restroom. At least now everyone was laughing.

Daddy is older now, his broad muscular body weakened from disease. But Daddy still has tears. He still cries for his kids – an overflow from a tender heart.

He can’t understand what he did to deserve our love. But I know. He possesses the Father’s heart. He has allowed God’s love to permeate his soul, and it just seeps out through the cracks as Daddy’s tears.

(He is gone now, and I miss him. Jan. 15, 2008)

Convicted of Fan Abuse

When I went to turn on my computer this morning, I did not get the blue screen of death. I got the black screen of . . . well, blackness! There was a brief mean message (mean because I had not intentionally wished the demise of my lifeline to the word!). It read:
ERROR: Your fan has failed.

Mmm, that is probably bad news. But since I wasn’t sure what fan had failed (I haven’t had any since my years singing Christian folk-rock.), I turned the tower off till hubby could take a look, checking it every so often to make sure it wasn’t on fire.

My tower has been located under my table in this academic abyss, along with baskets and books filled with old lesson plans and my best yet grammar exercises (except I always forget where I put them, so they don’t get used). We don’t have carpet, so I presume the power-fan-motor thingy sucks all the dirt that blows in from the desert and the dog through these tiny wee portals–portals that presumably are helping my computer breathe.

All those little warning signs about CPU stress had gone unheeded because I didn’t know what they were for. I am more computer savvy than when we first got one years ago (I thought then if I even touched it I would blow it up.), but I’m still probably only savy with one v.

Hubby dug it out of the hole, and discovered that it was a bit dirty. Those white patches are dust and dog hair and probably death mold. He gave it mouth to mouth with the vacuum cleaner and liquid air; and lo and behold, it gave out a luxurious gasp and still works. Even faster. :-)

Wonder of wonders. It got promoted to the top of my desk, and we got to vacuum out the peanuts, stuffed animals, and dead flies under the table as a bonus.

Bits of Spring

. . . whispers of life
breaking out,
and bits of spring,
tentative forays,
but I’m still hoping for one last snow . . .