Friday, November 23, 2007
I love Thanksgiving. Used to be Halloween was my favorite holiday but I think Thanksgiving is, now. Yesterday wasn't that special; we went to my in-laws and sat around and ate not-so-great carryout Thanksgiving dinner. Hammy and I took a walk, which was nice. The kids played chess and then we all watched 'The Blues Brothers' on TV. But I enjoyed the day tremendously. Partly, I think because it's the only non-religious and non-patriotic holiday that gathers families together. I think we just get together to enjoy ourselves. As I stood in my kitchen at 8:00 yesterday morning, putting sweet potatoes on to steam and making veggie casserole, I felt a wonderful sense of connection with all the hundreds of thousands of other women (and the few men) in their kitchens doing the same things. I felt connected to my mother and my grandmothers (one of whom died almost 20 years ago), their mothers, all my aunts and so many women back, back, back through history.
I felt the same, only much more powerfully, when I was in labor; this incredible feeling of being one with every woman who had ever given birth throughout all of human existence. That knowledge awed me and gave me strength.
I feel the same kind of delighted connection every time a new Harry Potter book comes out. I'll see my sons sitting glued to the book (or I'll read it aloud to them, which is my preferred way of dealing with 3 people who want to read the one copy we buy) and be so happy knowing that around the world there are, literally, hundreds of thousands of people, children mostly, who are immersed in a world of wizards and magic. It almost brings tears to my eyes just to think of how sweet it is.
I know some people get off on being connected at sporting events or displays of patriotism. Those activities seems false to me, almost creepy because they seem so mindless. I think I prefer the simpler, less contrived moments of life that connect us.
Today’s query: What chains do you appreciate being a link in?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
And every one 'neath their vine and fig tree
Shall live in peace and unafraid
And every one 'neath their vine and fig tree
Shall live in peace and unafraid
And into plowshares turn their swords,
Nations shall learn war no more
And into plowshares turn their swords,
Nations shall learn war no more
Six String Shooter. "What we want to create is an invitation to an attitude of change," [Cesar López] says. "It says a lot of different things — but the main idea is that weapons can be changed from an object of destructiveness to an object of constructiveness." Swords into plowshares axes, Music from Menace, Music Out of Madness.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The "lost" gospel of Judas was found some time ago, and published by National Geographic last year. It is a dialogue between Jesus and Judas and Jesus and the disciples (written by Gnostics in the 2nd century AD). In it, Judas claims to be the disciple to whom Jesus taught the true lessons. Judas was asked by Jesus to set the actions into play which would allow Jesus to fulfill his destiny.
If this is true, it seems to me that Judas should be honored for the courage and trust in Jesus it must have taken for him to follow through on his actions. I can't imagine what it would be like to do something I knew had to be done knowing that I would be scorned, hated, perhaps even killed by my closest friends for doing that thing (the Gospel of Judas says that Judas was stoned by the other disciples).
Even if the Gospel of Judas is not true, I don't think Judas should be hated. He was fulfilling his role. Even if did he turn Jesus over to his enemies for 30 shekels, he was doing what had to be done, just as Pontius Pilot did. Jesus had to die in order to show us how to live and it seems he required a person to set the event in motion which would allow that to happen.
Monday, November 19, 2007
A good question and one I've been avoiding contemplating this week. I'm not sure why. Last night, I felt something stirring in me, a vague agitation. An internal kick for motivation. But towards what, I've no idea. I'm always full of ideas, ideas. (This past week it's a planned community based on Quaker values and sustainable living using shipping containers for buildings. I'd call it "Spiceland".)
I shall sit with my query and see where it leads me.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
When we finished eating, we decided to walk to the Frist so Hammy could see the exhibit, Societe Anonyme. We walked around the gallery, talking about what we like and don't care for and people and everything. I went into a little side gallery where an exhibit of photography by Rosemary Laing called Flight is on display. I am haunted by this photograph; the calmness where there should be tension and stillness where there should be motion. The overall greyness of it makes the model's flesh seem almost shockingly pink and alive.
We walked to the bus stop and caught the bus back to the car shop and got home mid-afternoon to find Carmac running around outside in his footie pajamas and Zed egging him on. Shortly thereafter, Hammy had to take Declan to the school so he could work with the stage crew for the night's performance and then Hammy was playing music with the guys he plays with. I worked for a little while but I was feeling worn out so I went to bed early.
Today, I stayed home from Friends Meeting to just chill. I worked for an hour but that's it. Hammy took the kids to do the things the needed to do today, leaving me home in quiet-something I have been needing for weeks. The silence in my house is a gift. I've been eating expensive dark chocolate covered cookies and drinking tea and not feeling too guilty for not doing housework. I stake my metaphorical flag on this time of solitude! I claim it for myself. This time is mine. I'm gonna go put on the music that I want to hear knowing I will be able to enjoy it without interruption.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Since Carmac turned 5, he now pays the "student" price for bus fare rather than being free. It now costs us $.70 more each bus that we ride (usually, 4 a week).
Wednesday we took the 10:36 bus downtown and there was only one person on it when we got on; yesterday, the same bus was over half full. I have no idea why the same bus, going to a residential neighborhood, would have that much discrepancy in the number of riders from day to day. I'm glad when it's crowded, though, because that means MTA won't cancel our route!
Anyway, back to the boys: We got on the bus and had an uneventful ride. To get to the back of the bus, where we usually sit, you have to go up 3 steps, and the seats are higher so someone who is small can see out. Yesterday, Carmac and I sat in the middle where he can't see out of the windows. He leaned his head on the seat in front and sat still, watching everything that happened on the bus, completely quiet and polite. Many children his age would have been bored and disruptive but his behavior is so good (most of the time) in situations that call for waiting.
Our morning destination, yesterday, was the library, where we attended the annual volunteer recognition brunch. My boys had never been to an awards banquet before and they did their share of yawning during the commendations and speeches but perked up again when they saw the pastries on the buffet. They, of course, had a lot of people come up and ask them where they volunteered and what they did. Carmac, particularly, enjoyed telling them about working "crowd control" for the marionette shows (keeping the throngs of wild toddlers from approaching the stage).
After the brunch, we hung out for an hour in the Children's Library and read books for a while. Then, we walked to the Frist.
There is an exhibit at the Frist, "Societe Anonyme" which is a collection of work put together by Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray to introduce Americans to "modern" art (this was back in the early part of last century). I was excited to go because I've been reading a lot of books about artists and Wassily Kandinsky comes up all the time as an artist who's work heavily influenced many other artists and I'd never had the opportunity to study any of his work in person and he was a major component of the Societe.
Both my boys were barely resigned to being dragged around an art exhibit but in the third room, there was a film being shown. The filmmaker was Lotte Reiniger, a German woman who began making shadow-puppets as a child. She made the film The Adventures of Prince Achmed in 1926- the earliest surviving animated film. The details in the puppets were amazing. It's a silent film with a symphonic score by Wolfgang Zeller. The boys watched for 20 or 30 minutes and were reluctant to leave when it was time to move on.
We went into ArtQuest to do some painting, drawing, listening, and reading for a while, then went to the cafe to have a snack and some hot cider.
Then we walked to aikido where Zed got thrown around and Carmac made silly putty snow people.
Hammy picked us up and we came home to play a game of Mouse Trap and get ready for bed.
Declan, too, had a long day. I rode with Hammy to pick him up at a few minutes after 10:00 pm. He'd been at school since 7:15 am. The musical he's been staying late to prepare for opened last night, Footloose. He said it went well. He's doing general backstage stuff. He's helped build sets and do set design. He's really learning a lot and enjoying it. He's not getting much in the way of academics from school but he's still learning a tremendous amount that he will use the rest of his life.
When I can step back from the day-to-day irritants of my life to see the big picture, I see just how wonderful each of my boys is. Yeah, they're noisy and smelly and never put the seat up when they pee nor the lid down when they're done, but they're the best gift I could ever imagine, anyway!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Zed and I made vegan cupcakes (for vegan friends who will be at the zoo) and a non-vegan chocolate cake last night. When Carmac wakes up, Hammy's taking him skateboarding so Zed and I can decorate the cake. Carmac saw a "Candyland" cake in a magazine at my mom's a couple of months ago and said that's what he wanted for his birthday. He's forgotten but I didn't, so that's what we're going to surprise him with. He's getting some Play-do and a Mousetrap game for his birthday. Yesterday, my folks brought him a new Lego set. I think Hammy's mom sent him a remote control car. I think his 5th birthday will be a happy one. He is much loved and treasured. He is a wonderful gift to me.
Anyway, the show had a link to this game you can play to find out how many Earths there would need to be if everyone lived the way you do. I've done games like this before but, for some reason, this time it really hit home. I scored very low compared to most people: There would only need to be 2 Earths for me. But that's with not owning a second car and riding the bus instead. I got out our energy usage bill to see what our average payment is. On our bill is how much "Green Power" energy we use. We only signed up for a couple of blocks originally. With the electric bill comes a little "newsletter". The lead article is about Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) making rate changes ahead. It says "Of the $1 billion in capital spending for a new generation, $317 million is budgeted to begin construction of a second reactor unit at TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant." I can't support that and I won't support it with my money. I just made the switch to full Green Power, even though it will cost us almost $40 more each month (and the nuclear reactor will be built anyway).
In the newsletter, there are several articles about how to save energy and about having energy audits done and buying energy efficient appliances and then there's an article on the annual "Christmas Lights" competition. Save energy by turning off your lights but be sure to plug your yard in for the month of December!
Monday, November 12, 2007
This man is nice to me, brusque but polite. As a matter of fact, he is calling me when he has 20 or 30 minutes to work on the survey, rather than me having to chase him down. But he has no clue about the world that most of us inhabit. We have questions about people's reasons for "saving and planning for the future". He genuinely does not understand the questions. He's never had to think in terms of future personal financial security. We haven't gotten to the section on inheritances or trusts but I'm sure that he began life with a very cushioned financial foundation. I haven't yet interviewed a very wealthy person who didn't, at the very least, have his education paid for through an inheritance or trust. It takes money to make money, as they say.
One of the last questions is about how much money the respondent gave to charity last year. I really hope that this guy has been generous. I get so disappointed when very wealthy people, who's income was in the 7 or 8 digits (or more), gave not very much to others. One guy I interviewed, had given 6 million the previous year. His brother was also wealthy and they seemed to be having a competition to see who could endow the most wings. That's good competition. Much better than "whoever dies with the most toys" thinking. A $500,000,000 boat, for instance.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
One is the relationship with an old friend. Over a year ago, this friend did something to me that hurt me very badly and made me seriously rethink our friendship and distance myself from her. I told her how I felt, and why and she responded by saying that we needed to talk but then never brought the subject up again. Over time, I became very angry and cynical about her and her approach to our mutual interests. I discussed the situation with a couple of other people who agreed that her action was uncool but couldn't suggest solutions. Over the year, while I haven't been able to avoid seeing this former friend, I kept my distance and spoke with her as little as I could. Recently, we were sort of forced, by circumstance and deliberate choice on her part, to be together. As we sat and made small talk, I could "see" the true goodness of her heart. I felt something break open in me and the anger melted away. I don't know that I will trust her or hold her as a "bosom" friend as I once did, but I no longer feel the hurt or cynicism I'd been carrying toward her.
Something also happened with the person I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I learned something about her that caused me to feel great compassion for her. Again, I felt something crack in me that let me see her in a new light with eyes of love rather than with ego/judgment.
I don't know where this will lead but I will try to allow myself to be open to where God is leading me. Love is pretty scary sometimes. Remaining open to God's leading can be very scary. What if God leads me to do something I'm don't feel ready for. What if I have to change my perceptions of myself?
I have other relationships which need healing on my part. I have not been able to approach them with love, yet. I will pray for guidance and for the strength and courage to follow God's will.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
As I said, I awoke with Todd Rundgren's "Compassion" in my head. I love that song and hate it in equal measures. The lyrics, of course, I love. The music, though, makes my skin crawl. This rant is specifically directed at Todd Rundgren and Joni Mitchell who are two incredible songwriters but who's choice of production and instrumentation about makes me give up on them. Why must they use tinny, thin, synthetic, grating electronic "instruments"? Both of them write lyrics that have depth, experience, and (sometimes) wisdom and melodies which flow and support the lyrics but then take those songs and make them sound like the K-Mart toy isle during the Christmas shopping season. Why? I really don't understand. Obviously, they're both proficient musicians. Obviously, they both have access to basically any musician they wanted to play with. Why do they choose to sound synthetic?
A lot of musicians went through an electronic music phase in the '80s. I understand the excitement of a new medium through which to showcase one's talents. But most musicians discovered, quickly enough, that their music sounds not just better but, really, really BETTER when played with a real instrument rather than with a synthesizer. Why didn't Joni and Todd figure this obvious thing out?
Some musicians, like Thomas Dolby, I can understand. I really like some of his music (the song "Hyperactive" totally describes my middle son), even though the synthetic nature of his music is a big part of his shtick.
Todd Rundgren. His "A Capella" disc is one of my favorites. He uses the human voice (and nothing else) to beautiful results. And Joni's early music (prior to the '80s) is incredible for it's perfect simplicity which showcases her lyrical phrasing. What drove them off track? I think Todd is an innovator; the kind of guy who can't leave well enough alone. And Joni is an artist who needs to feel she is moving forward. (I'm projecting here). Whatever the reasoning is, I wish they'd put out double disc sets of any new music projects: One with the production they prefer and one with a simpler, more "natural" production that doesn't hurt my ears.
If only the world would listen to me.
"You want more, and still more,
Until you get more than you ever bargained for.
Now its plain, clear as rain,
Ive seen your symptoms many times before.
Lying on your bed of pain
What will you have now?
What are riches untold in a life without compassion? For there's no winter as cold
As a life without compassion.
There's no prescription that's sold
That can heal you like compassion.
Well you tried and you cried,
And let your disappointment make you hard inside.
You have doubt, you reach out,
Still you're the only one you care about.
Hiding in your sack of woe
What do you need now?
For there is nothing so sad
As a life without compassion.
And even love has turned bad,
It was love without compassion.
And you don't need what you had
cause you did not have compassion.
Dying on your bed of pain
What will you have now?
You'll get no judgment from me,
I can only feel compassion.
And if that's what you need,
I will give you my compassion.
Just don't forget about me
cause we all need some compassion.
Open up your heart
So you can start to feel compassion.
Get down on your knees,
Pray to heaven for compassion.
Everybody needs compassion.
If you want to be healed
Then you know you got to feel compassion."
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
What I find compelling and inspiring about the lives
of these early Friends is their mutual and active desire to be accountable for the spiritual health, nurture, and behavior of members,
attenders, and the meeting as a whole. I believe we need to get back to this
accountability and to revitalize the culture of mutual spiritual nurturing and
care within our own faith community.
A Friends meeting is intended to be so much more
than a loose association of individuals on separate and private spiritual
journeys. Friends are called to be a faith community, seeking to know each other
"in that which is Eternal" as we journey together. Ideally we acknowledge that
our primary relationship is to God and to that of God in each other. We let go
of the idea that we have only private lives and hold ourselves accountable to
the authority of the Spirit in the life of the meeting. We grow in a sense of
responsibility for each other and become part of a gathered community.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Jeanne, who writes the blog Social Class & Quakers, posted this exercise and is asking others to participate, either on their own blog or on hers (if you do it on your own blog, leave a message on hers to let her know). Cut and paste the list, remove my answers and then write in your own and bold the ones that are true for you.
I think it's an interesting exercise. I sorta had fun going through the questions and thinking about my family. My family was working class but, because my parents are very proper people who came from very lower class backgrounds (my mom more than my dad by degrees). They worked hard to make sure we spoke properly and were secure in our needs. My parents were very good parents and I'm very grateful for the love they gave me and the standards they held.
- Father went to college-After he got out of the Navy and just prior to my birth, my dad finished his associates degree in warehouse management.
Father finished college
Mother went to college-she didn't but she should have. She's a very intelligent and curious person. She worked as a teacher's aid for years before she retired and would have made a great early elementary teacher.
Mother finished college
- Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor-I have one cousin who is a professor at a Christian college out of a very, very large extended family (cousin also has a bunch of rental properties and painted houses on the side for years).
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
- Had more than 50 books in your childhood home-My mom values reading and we had one full bookcase in our house (I owned several "Nancy Drew" books). Actually, all the women in both sides of my parents family love books; they may not have great taste, favoring mysteries and "Christian" themed novels, but they all read a lot. My dad only began reading for pleasure since he retired but now reads a lot.
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home-Nope. The library was my favorite place in town.
- Were read children's books by a parent-Both my parents read to us. My dad read to my brother and me as part of our bedtime ritual (I have a very fond memory of dad reading "Old Yeller" to us when I was around 6 and crying when Old Yeller had to be killed).
- Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18-I took cello lessons at public school from 3rd grade through 7th. Hated every minute of it. My teacher was an unpleasant person and a lousy teacher who went to my church, too, so I had to be in the church orchestra as well as the school one. I learned one song in 4 years. Before one performance at school, Mr. Bennett told me to move the bow back and forth but "don't let it touch the strings".
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18-Ha! I don't have a credit card in my name now!
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
Went to a private high school
- Went to summer camp-One year, when I was 8, I went to some Baptist Bible summer camp for a week with my best friend from church. I don't remember anything from that week except that my friend sleepwalked, pulled down her pants and almost sat on my head dreaming she was in the bathroom (the counselor stopped her) and I was utterly mortified.
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
- Family vacations involved staying at hotels-My parents always took us on low budget, high stress vacations to amusement parks. We stayed in motels and often ate store donuts for breakfast to save money. My dad would get lost and my mom would yell at him and my brother, sister and I would sit in the back seat longing for the boredom of home. The year I was 12, we drove to Disneyworld from Northern Indiana and home again in a week's time in a Beetle with all our luggage and 3 kids. The kooky thing is that we owned a station wagon but my parents wanted to save on gas.
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18-I had a bunch of older girl cousins so I rarely had new clothes until I began to babysit and earned enough to buy my own.
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them- I bought my first car, a 1973 Galaxy 500 for $300, when I was 18
There was original art in your house when you were a child-one wouldn't count any art held by magnets to the fridge would one?
- Had a phone in your room before you turned 18-Yes, oddly. My bedroom was wired for it when we moved in. My mom had bought a "candlestick" phone at a garage sale that she hated so gave it to me for my room, which I thought was way cool. It wasn't my own private line, though.
- You and your family lived in a single family house-yes, although when I was in junior high, my parents tried opening a business that failed and they lost everything and we moved in with an elderly former neighbor. After a year or so, my folks bought his house from him and he lived with us until he got cancer and died. We called him "Gramps" and I loved him (and was irritated by him) like he really was my grandfather.
- Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home-My parents are the most frugal people around-great with money management. They saved and scrimped to buy their first house when I was two and had it paid off in just over 10 years but then made an unwise decision to go into business with a family member and lost everything.
You had your own room as a child- Some of the time. When we moved in with Gramps Wegner, my sister and I had to, not only share a room, but share a bed! I was 14 and she was 8. One night I dreamed I was sitting on a porch swing kissing my boyfriend on the ear and woke up to find myself nibbling the lobe of my little sister! Ew, gross!
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
- Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16-When I was 6 we lived in Texas. My grandfather in Indiana died and we flew home for the funeral.
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
- Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up-When I was in 6th grade, my class took a field trip to Chicago to see The Treasures of King Tut. My mom chaperoned so she could go. That same year she took me to see some of our community orchestra concerts including a ballet (Nutcracker, natch). My brother and I went to our local historical museum all the time because it had a really creepy display about this notorious murderess, Belle Gunness.
- You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family-My parents worried about money but they made it a point not to burden us with their worries.