Tuesday, February 28, 2006

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Monday, February 27, 2006


Standing in the kitchen at 6:30 am, bleary-eyed while attending last night's dishes, I glanced outside at our winter wonderland and announced: "Horse out!" No other words could produce such an electric effect. Emy,our 3-yr old filly, is nonchalantly pawing snow in the side field. "Never mind me..." she seems to gesture hopefully with a swish of her tail.
Padded feet are whistled into boots, coats flung on, and hurried instructions are barked to and fro. In minutes, the situation is addressed: a naughty horse is returned to the stalls and an errant fence arighted. Such events are the stuff of a busy morning.

Taking cue from Friend #7, who encourages me in many ways, I decide to post today even without the blinding light of inspiration. Sometimes the details of my day are the only stuff in my head, and she says that's okay.

Today I have the house to myself . Oh joy! Kiddies are skiing, Hubby is working. Mom will just have to find something to do. Perhaps I shall have a leisurely cuppa while basking in the winter sun that splashes through my kitchen. Then, I shall tuck in to the piano, where 17 French Art Songs have to come under my fingers for tonight's rehearsal. There also is a red binder beckoning me, full of jazz idioms and snappy accompaniment for this weekend's rehearsals in Albany.
Another task, equally pleasurable, is to google the words "Madrid", "Barcelona", "Valencia", and "Paris". From there, I can go any number of directions: food, museums, architecture, flea-markets, concerts, and what have you. My head is trying to wrap itself around the fact that I WILL BE IN THESE PLACES in a few short weeks.

As for the mysterious title of this post, the idea occurred to me that the accordian is immensely popular in Spain and France. If I lugged my Excelsior 120-bass Baby over the ocean, I might find a happy buyer for it. Please laugh along with me at the thought of having to drag it all around Europe with until the miraculous sale takes place. Hubby could document its presence (in all places sublime) with our digital camera, and it could make our trip quite unique.

Of course, none of this will be accomplished if I continue to sit at the computer like a mouse-potato.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Scenes from my Observation Tower~

Examples of Excess:
Multi-tasking was taken to a new level during a sports interview on NBC. Young skate-starling, holding court on her ability to focus under pressure, is not only pumping away on an exercise bike, but also listening to her iPod while maintaining her poise on international TV. Live.

Custom M&M's are the new snack de rigueur. Now you can put your words on M&M's chocolate candy! Choose from 17 colors, then personalize them with your own message.
"Anyway you want to say it, say it on Custom-Printed M&M's."
( or, you could just tell someone....)

New Word Free-for-all:
is now a verb.
Ex: Sports commentator: "The Finnish bobsled team will surely medal this event."

Would that make them a bunch of medalers? (not to be confused with meddlers--not something to aspire to.)

chillax- to chill out/relax
snirt- dirty snow
confuzzled- confused/puzzled
ginormous- bigger than gigantic and enormous
phonecrastinate- to put off answering the phone until caller-ID is displayed.
mouse potato- someone who spends too much time in front of the computer
wetware- the human brain, esp. when thought of as functionally equivalent to computer software.

note: these words are not in any official dictionary (yet), but are in usage, regardless.

post script: the observant reader will notice what a word lover I am.
That would that make me a:
1. wordophile
2. vocabophile
3. languophile
4. other

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Just for fun, I entered a contest.

(Well, not entirely just for fun. I want to win, too.)

A magazine is sponsoring a contest to increase the "curb-appeal" of your home. If you've noticed the front of our humble home, you know we could use a make-over in this department! When we bought our circa-1835 fixer-upper, its original brick was lurking under three unsightly porches. After the last porch was ceremoniously kicked away and the 100-year old dust settled, we contemplated what to do next. ( Rather, I contemplated. My hubby just got busy doing other important things.)
By the way, I did not use the word ceremoniously lightly about the last porch-demo. While hubby swung a sledgehammer at the skeletal frame, we (kids and I) stood cheering wildly across the street, filming its final creaking demise. Then we viewed the film forward and backward 20X. This is family fun at its most memorable.

Not to worry: none of these endearing details are in my potentially winning essay. Just the facts, ma'am, and a "before" picture of a very forlorn brick house in sore need of paint, shutters, a new front door, and basic landscaping.

I wish to announce with glee to the entire cyber-world that:
1) I am enjoying the slower pace of this season in my life. Who would have time to consider even reading a magazine with my former schedule?
2) it's fun and therapeutic to dream, even about projects that are merely decorative in nature.
3) I am going to win a cool contest.

Just thought I'd let y'all know.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Finding my voice

When I shared in my first entry that I hadn't found my voice yet, I didn't mean literally.

Those of you who know me, even casually, are familiar with my perennial bouts of laryngitus. After the normal cough and sniffles depart, I'm generally left with a very raw and tired throat. The only cure is vocal rest. Yes, I've tried that---whatever you're thinking of right now. And its all good, as long as I chase it with an extended fast from speech.

This is not a springboard for complaints. In everyday conversation, I'm usually an Olympic contender. It just takes getting used to, this monk's existence. Those around me are so accustomed to my enthusiastic input, that they just can't get comfortable with my silence. Its challenging for me, too. Now, everyday occurances are seen in a different light. I find myself avoiding situations where people expect me to talk; coffee-hour at church, lobbies at intermission, phone calls, social visits with friends, and read-aloud time with the family (everyone always wants me to do the reading!)

Don't feel sorry for me, really. I'm not one to waste a moment of suffering: good stuff can come from this thorn in my pocket. Digging deeply into Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I find spiritual grist for the mill. The Discipline of Solitude has been at my side these mornings, clothing me with the resolve to gain ground from my weakness. If you can find a copy of this classic, read it as a devotional: little bites daily go a long way. Here is one of Foster's challenges:

"...Try to live one entire day without words at all. Do it not as a law but as an experiment. Note your feelings of helplessness and excessive dependence upon words to communicate. Try to find new ways to relate to others that are not dependent on words. Enjoy, savor the day. Learn from it."

Being a huge fan of divine healing, I know that God can do that for me, too. But I'm not adverse to gleaning a few lessons while I am in this tent. There will be a day when I leave it behind, though. The canvas may be in various states of repair, patched and torn, and perhaps not even in garage-sale condition, but that's not important. It was only a covering for the spot I pitched my soul this side of heaven.

And when I get there, I'll probably have a lot to talk about.

a friendly visit

A family that I love is coming for a visit today.

Last summer, just when I was perfectly content with the volume of relationships in my life, God sent me to a far-away country for a few weeks. I dragged my heels a bit at the idea, knowing that my summer would be interrupted and my budget would be challenged. (Okay, thoughts of insurrection, disease, and Maoist terrorists also came into play….) After those mental hurdles were conquered, (thanks, Lord.) I went.

This isn’t an entry about my amazing trip to Nepal. See Friend #7’s blog for that. This is the story of what I came home with: new friends that have enriched my life. At the risk of sounding overboard, I don’t know what I’d do without them. The whole lot of ‘em.

So, because we haven’t hung out in a whole week, they are invading my home for the afternoon. A copper-haired boy will swoop in and accost us with hugs, Miss Gumdrop will want to build hay-forts in the barn, Kookalie will read a book or perhaps bake something good, Petey-Boy will rap circles around us, Zekie will win a Baby-Olympic medal for Cuteness, and Friend #21, mother to them all, will grace my kitchen with her sweet smile. Life is good when you have friends.

I guess it was worth flying around the whole world to find them.

salvation in a (pine)nutshell

Take fresh basil, still warm from the garden, rinsed and patted dry. Add pine nuts, a clove of garlic, a handful of grated parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil, (known to foodies as EVOO) a dash of salt…

And that’s all.

These few ingredients come together under my pestle, and each is essential to that summer nectar we call pesto. Then if some angel produces a ripe tomato and a bowl of moist rice, well then, heaven meets earth in my bowl. Here is a lunch divine: simple, shorn of frippery, and a delight to the senses. Any frills or do-dads would only distract from its beauty.

It is a wise discipline to distill our delights to their very essence. Sharing with an inquisitive young friend late into the night about the delights of my Christian faith is an exercise in distilling. Which elements of the gospel are absolutely essential? Can one well-crafted sentence encapsulate the life-changing power of the salvation message? What sets this adventure called Christianity apart from the world’s cafeteria of religion and philosophy, anyway? To experience the goodness of the gospel afresh, I need to pose these questions to myself now and then!

The privilege of uncovering someone’s heart, hearing their desires and finding shades of need that are burning deeply into their soul is not to be taken lightly. So when a guest that hardly knows me dares to entrust these treasures to me….it is time to listen carefully. Any request for a rulebook or list of demands in order to join this “Christian Club” is vehemently denied. Jesus didn’t come to bring rules, but life, and that abundantly. As my wise pastor proclaimed from the pulpit this morning, “Life with God is not about keeping rules so you can keep the rules.” Deliver us from a dead religion that only exchanges one hard yoke for yet another!

No tricks, convincing arguments, or clever illustrations will win an allegiance to God for life. But love, boiled down to an ounce of compassion, a listening ear, and a word of hope from heaven can conquer a wounded heart forever.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30
just borrowing this tent....

Today, my thoughts are close to a dear friend and to her troubles.

When someone is in pain or struggling with this thing the Apostle Paul called our "tent", we can look heavenward with hope. And in allowing each other's trials to bring us together,we are pleasing Him.

I'm so glad we serve a God of Hope!

speaking computer-ese

For all my computer-savvy friends, here are a few creative emoticons for your enjoyment:

;-) winking

:-O wow

:-x kissing

:-} moustached

:*) drunk

:-{} wearing lipstick

{:-) wearing a toupee

+-:-) the Pope

:-Q smoker

:-? pipe-smoker

@:-) wearing a turban

5:-) Elvis

=):-)= Abraham Lincoln

:-):-) de ja vu

@}->-- rose

got any more?
Scott's Original Miscellany

Now I give you, in all seriousness, a book report.

Wandering around Union Station in D.C. awhile back, I came upon this compact and fascinating tome. It was not only an interesting read on the train, but continues to hold my attention whenever I need a little intellectual pick-me-up.

In Scott’s own words:

Schott’s Original Miscellany is a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. Its purpose is to gather the flotsam and jetsam of the conversational tide. Importantly, Scott’s Original Miscellany makes very few claims to be exhaustive, authoritative, or even practical. It does, however, claim to be essential. It is, perhaps, possible to live one’s life without (it), but it seems a curious and brave thing to attempt.”

Overstated? Maybe just a tad. I love this little book! Here are a few of its “unconsidered trifles:

Orders to Fire a Cannon:


Cast loose your gun!

Level your gun!

Take out your tampion!


etc. etc..

Phobias: ( a brief selection)

Fall of satellites…….keraunothnetophobia

Foreign languages….xenoglossophobia


Getting wrinkles…..rhytidophobia

Sgt. Pepper: the following list contains some of those people whose images appeared on the celebrated 1967 cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album.

Mae West

W.C. Fields

Fred Astaire

Bob Dylan

Tony Curtis

Dylan Thomas

Albert Einstein

Shirley Temple……(among others)

That’s a taste of its scope. Also included are:

Commonplace Latin

Morse Code

Famous Last Words

Cattle Branding

Super Bowl Singers

…and on and on. What fun!

Yes, I hear the reader saying: “where is she getting the time to even think about this stuff?”

My brief chunk of leisure is now ended, and I am off to errands, rehearsals, making dinner, serving company, and who knows what else.

In the bleak mid-winter

In the bleak midwinter,
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

-Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)

Traveling over the salt-encrusted bridge to church this morning, I suffered pangs of longing. The Grasse River wound its way to my left and to my right, humming and dancing under sharp rifts of ice and snow. I shaded my eyes from the blinding sun and reminisced momentarily about my lazy summer.

“I want to take my kayak out on the river.” I announced plaintively.

“It’s not gonna happen,” states Friend # 12 with a laugh. “Not anytime soon.”

There’s no arguing with the stark reality of a North Country winter. Our cars cough and moan like fat bears waking from hibernation on these frigid mornings. Towns-people stomp their booted feet at stop-lights and then shuffle into coffee shops, heads down, like cows into barns. It’s hard to remember that deep under the iron ground, roots and seeds quiver—not with the sting of frost, but with the promise of spring deeply wrapped up in their tender cores. The simple therapy of mulling these facts over seems to brace my soul for the weeks ahead.

-Which brings me back to the thoughts of my bright green kayak, lying on its side in the barn. One promising day, not too far off, I will hoist it to the roof of my red PT Cruiser, fasten the straps securely to hood and trunk, and wend my way down to the river. After lugging it to the marshy bank, I will hear the slap of water under the bow, breathe the freshness of budding trees mixed with the smell of a thousand happy things recently loosened from winter’s grasp, and probably shout for joy a bit.

But in the meantime, I will long for glimpses of rivers and lakes, brooks and even rivulets because I know that each season doesn’t last forever.

Isn’t that thought just as comforting as a bowl of home-made soup on a winter’s afternoon?

a muster of mentors

mentor: a wise and faithful counselor or monitor

Trivia: Would the noun of assemblage be "a muster of mentors"?

Tonight, I attend a meeting at my church for the women who are mentors. We will pray, share, and learn a few things about the art of discipling. Our pastor will speak with us and there will be a time for questions and feedback. It takes determination and training to be an effective mentor!(not to mention a huge dose of humility...)

What's all the fuss? And why all the prep?

I entered college as a half-baked, fence-sitting semi-passionate Christian. (That is to say, I was only passionate when something else wasn't more important--which is not passionate in the least.) I had the great fortune to have a next-door friend (Friend #22) who loved God enough to nudge me into self-examination. By her example and friendship, I made steps to align my life with God's call for me. I read the Bible and prayed regularly. I memorized Scripture. I learned how to truly repent. Small steps became significant ones. My love for God took deep root and blossomed.

It was only a few years down the proverbial road, and I felt the call to give back. It was the "proof is in the pudding" syndrome, really. As unequipped as I felt, I did know some basic truths. Obey God consistently, and good fruit will spring from your branches. Follow that up with sharing your bounty generously and selflessly, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for biblical discipleship.

I'm eternally grateful for Friend # 22 and her influence in my life. Her investment is reaping a harvest in people she has not even met! Now that’s an investment worth looking into.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” - John 15:8

A word to the wise

In the world of official Scrabble, "da" is a word.

As the rest of society was rioting around the TV (Superbowl Sunday), a few intellectual die-hards were playing Scrabble at the kitchen table. It's tradition here. (At least it feels like a tradition because we did it last year...)

Although other brains were at the board, Friend #37 and myself were the main contenders. We were doing well, the board was open like a summer sky, full of possiblity, AND THEN: he lays down two wooden tiles.


"DA?" I counter. "That's not a word." He smiles, shrugs while lacing his guitar- calloused hands behind his head, and quips, "So challenge me."

I searched my mental language bank. There's "TA-DA".

No, just an expression, and half of one at best.

There's the bank-heist lingo of "Hand ovah da dough."

Nahh.couldn't be.

And that was all I came up with. So we cracked the official Scrabble dictionary--and there it was. "Da." prep (Italian) of.

Well, YEAH. As in Leonardo Da Vinci, sure. But it's a foreign language! Foul play? I can't argue with the tournament handbook. So #37 gets his 2 points and I lose a turn.

By the way, he won by a few points,even after I used up all my tiles first and got a generous bonus. (thank you, E. and J.) It was a great game, though. Because I am not the competitive type, the fact that this event still replays in my mind puzzles me.

I am sure, though, that it has something to do with "DA" being fair game.

Who knew?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Living Line

"Who casts to write a living line, must sweat."

~Ben Jonson

I've been sweating a bit, all to do with the first entry of this blog. To those who have been cajoling me to just dive in, I counter: "But I haven't decided on my voice yet!" To those who don't know exactly what the struggle is, let me explain...

Should this venture have a devotional-bent? You know: deep rumblings and dissertative stuff that inspires and makes the reader say,"whoah". I would be hard-pressed to keep coming up with that kind of material, though.

How about just fun-writing? Throughout the day, random encounters make me laugh or wonder about other people's sanity. I like to make my friends laugh and pull them (sometimes unwillingly) into my observation tower.

Then there's the blog that simply tells about the writer's day. I have some pretty interesting days. But, I must admit, they may only be interesting to me, and Reader Beware: this blog may only be useful for bedtime reading. zzzzz.

How about I start with an thought-provoking quote and spin from there? Is it cheating to start from another writer's amazing idea? And to whom, exactly, are these questions posed, anyway?

So, you see, these are the tangled strands that comprise my dilemma. No big deal, you say, just figure it out as you go along.


And perhaps there will be a living line now and then.