Thursday, March 31, 2005

A new Tennessean

I spent the day getting a Tennessee driver's license. They don't make it easy here--the registration place is out in the boondocks in west Nashville. I am so thankful Brandon could take time to lead me there. I don't think I could ever have found it.

I guess I will have to learn the Tennessee state song. Come to think of it, I really know only the first two bars of the Texas state song. I have heard it thousands of time, but it never stuck. It is not a hummable tune, nor does it have memorable words.

So, Tennessee, here I am to stay.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Twinkle, twinkle, little stars

Last night as I was babysitting (one of my favorite things to do), we were playing
"Let's Put on a Show". The girls have a microphone which is magnified (I need to buy another--it was hard to share). I had them wait behind the door in their little house in the play room, and then they would be announced--"Ladies and gentlemen, here's Miss Maddie Thomas singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." The spotlight would come on ( I needed a flashlight, but couldn't find one, so it was just pretend). Maddie would come out the door, do a deep bow and start singing. Meanwhile Ella waited in the wings for her turn.

Once, Ella grew tired of waiting and came out with Maddie, and they began singing together. Maddie's little sweet pitch-perfect version and Ella's raucous contralto, almost guttural version with her made-up words every now and then (sounding slightly German). It was the most hilarious things I have witnessed--wish I had a recording, because things like that don't happen again. What a joy. They also sang "Shout Hallelujah" with appropriate dancing.

That's the fun of living in Nashville, folks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Blue True Dream of Sky

Yippee! The sun is shining; the sky is blue; and it is 71 degrees!!!! All that reminded me of this snippet from e. e. cummings:

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

Yes, Thank you God for spring.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Which one is the salt?

On holidays, I often pour salt and pepper into decorative shakers--Easter rabbits, Mr. and Mrs. Santa, Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim, etc. So when we are sitting at the table, the question often comes, "Which one is the salt?"

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses it's saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is not longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." Matt. 5:13

I once heard Rick Atchley say, "When we show up, the kingdom of God ought to show up too."

On this day after Easter, I was thinking about what comes next after celebration.
Whether I am in church, at play, in a store, or in any social situation, I don't want anyone to say, "Which one is the salt?" I want my saltiness given by God to be obvious in my actions, life-style and conversation.

Lord, I pray that I be so attentive to the needs of others and to God's wishes for my life that my saltiness shows.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The sacramental table

Honeybaked ham, sweet potato souffle, Aunt Dot's potato salad, fresh green beans with feta cheese, Puffy Muffin's frozen cranberry salad, Brandon's favorite orange salad (also Aunt Dot's recipe), baked beans, coconut cake, Sister Schubert's rolls, iced tea--now is that a feast? We thought so today as 10 of us sat in my dining room.

Much has been written about Christ's eating and drinking in all sorts of places with all sorts of people. Even after his resurrection, there were table stories. He must have been on to something. There is definitely an important lesson going on there. The table we share is sacramental in so many ways--the hospitality, the stories, the food (especially food with history), the blending of ages, good conversation, etc. What a joy!

Another joy of Easter weekend is finding Easter grass in the house well into April.
I do think it multiplies. And seeing all the little folks dressed in new clothes looking so fresh. The service this morning was blessed by the Holy Spirit. As I sat in the "choir" group on stage I was blessed to be able to look into the faces of worshippers as they sang and listened.

All in all, Easter is a wonderful time of renewal. Thank you God for the gift of your risen Son.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Spring's Incarnation

The Bradford pears are blooming all over town--glorious trees of sheer white. Abilene ain't never seen anything like this!!!! I wish everyone could see the showy display of God's creation.

Along with Brother Lawrence who found God when he looked at a barren tree and realized that soon it would blossom and then bear fruit, I believe spring is incarnational for all of us. We see in it God's promise of everlasting life and His love of beauty. If one doesn't believe in God this season, of course, there are many other indications in nature and humanity; however, this is the season to rejoice and sing Hallelujah for His unceasing love and care for his creation--the earth and its inhabitants.

So, let us create a beautiful day tomorrow as we celebrate the resurrection of His
Son and the promise of eternal life with Him. Happy Easter.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The men in my life

Sam Thomas was the God-sent love of my life. There other men in my 67 years of living whom I value, respect, and treasure affectionately (some are still living; some are not):

W. L. FLETCHER, JR., the father of my best friend in Hamlin. He was an elder, a kind, wise and gentle man. My major professor at ACU, DR. JAMES CULP, a brilliant, funny, and wonderful teacher. HAROLD LIPFORD, the husband of Jeanette Lipford, both strong and faithful friends through good and bad times. MORGAN PHILLIPS, DAVE JONES, and DON ROGERS, all Sam's teaching buddies whose lives have blessed me in so many different ways.

MIKE COPE--he and his family are entwined with ours, but I value his charm, intellect, soft and open heart. And last but foremost--RONNIE LORENZ, possibly the sweetest man I have ever known. Always willing to help, always ready to listen; a rock for me in many difficult times and a joy for me always.

Then there are those I love with a motherly love as well: CRAIG FISHER, STEPHEN BAILEY, and CHRIS DOGGETT (Brandon's college roommates), JASON MCARTHUR, VAL DURRINGTON, PAUL PHILLIPS and RYAN PORCHE--all of whom I would be glad to adopt as my sons.

There so many others who have enriched and blessed my life: ROLAND ORR, JOE SHARP, MARK LEWIS, GRADY JOLLY, DARRYL TIPPENS, STEVE WEATHERS. I do hope I will be forgiven if I have overlooked someone.

I must end with the major man in my life today. The cute, red-haired sweetie (think of Maddie with short hair) who grew up to be a strong, faithful, God-loving, articulate, sensitive man gifted in so many ways. Every mother should have a son
like Brandon Scott Thomas. I thank God for him everyday.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The presence of the sacred

Darryl Tippens recently said, "The potential for the sacred is everywhere." Doesn't that apply to the Ashley Smith-Brian Nichols encounter?

In a beautiful essay in the March 28th issue of Time, Andrew Sullivan says, ...every day we have smaller, calmer chances to turn another's life around, to serve, to listen. How often do we simply not see what is in front of us? Sullivan quotes a Leonard Cohen song(also quoted in Patches of Godlight by Jan Karon): Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

I am reminded of John Wesley's admonition (which I think I have written about before--but it can't be used too many times):

Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Junior Bacon Cheeseburger

The rain began as I pulled into Wendy's in Franklin to get a junior bacon cheeseburger for lunch. I suddenly had a flashback to a time years ago.

Take One and Reflections were recruiting musical groups paid by ACU to go out and gather in students. They sang in churches, youth group meetings, camps, etc. One summer Brandon was a member of one of them (can't remember which one), and I was privileged to chaperone them for a few days on one of their trips. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I learned how hard they worked, how much young students admired them, and what they did on the road (some things do not bear repeating.)

One night they were scheduled to sing at Camp Bandina in the Hill country ( I think--I know Brandon will straighten out the details). It was raining cats and dogs, so not only were we tired and cranky, but also dripping wet. We were invited to join the evening meal and mix with the campers, and then the perfomance would commence.

After the performance and the sales of cassettes, we loaded up in a driving rain and set out on unfamiliar roads, in a darkness unlit by street lights, for the next destination. I think Val was driving. I am so glad he did not know how scared I was--I always tend to get scared when driving in hills or mountains. It seemed to me we were careening off the hills, parting flood waters, gaining speed and energy listening to Steven Curtis Chapman singing "Get on Your Horses."

I very relieved when we reached the next town where we stopped at Wendy's for a bite--we were all starving because the camp food was not particularly appealing. This was where I had my first junior bacon cheeseburger. (Abilene did not have a Wendy's at that time.) I was never so thankful for a cheeseburger in my life!

Thanks to the group for the experience, to Val for being a good driver, and for the sweet memories.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I firmly believe that multi-tasking and 24-7 are ideas from Satan--to keep us from being still and knowing God and knowing our family.

Sunday's paper carried an article about how our culture is becoming a child-dominated society in which parents spend as many as 18 hours a day carrying children hither and yon.

Kim and Gary Zeiss are keeping their children busy by design. They believe it's a key to being a successful adult in a culture that rewards multi-taskers. "You know the old saying, 'If you want something done, give it to a busy person.' They are learning how to be that." A typical Monday for the family has four or five after- school- events. They are in constant touch by cell-phone, Blackberry and pager.
They get together for dinner on Monday, but not until the son returns from fencing practice (now that's a life-time skill) at`10:30 p.m.

My parents would say hogwash to such stuff. When my Dad returned home (we had only one car), he was too tired to go anywhere else. When my brothers began playing sports, we did go to Little League games, football, etc., but never lessons of any kind. We did homework, finished chores, and played outside.

Lord, forgive us for avoiding you with busyness and going out of our way to find other things to do than to be still and know you.

Monday, March 21, 2005

On the right footing

Last night I watched Maddie (age 3) "read" The Foot Book word for word. Ella was there too copying, trying to read 10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. I thought what an advantage these girls had with parents who are willing to take time to read to them and to hold books while they "read".

The morning paper interviewed the Teacher of the Year at Granbury Elem. School Christina Ward. She does not apologize for continuing the use of learning centers in her room while other kindergarten teachers have opted out of centers to incorporate more academics into the curriculum. Along with the usual reading, math, and writing centers, she has some which stimulate creativity and imagination. She says, "The pretend center, where they act out stories we've read or create their own with very much about literacy and language. Ward tries to encourage the parents of her children by teaching them about the development of children. She says, "As far as helping children learn no complex computer games or toy can replace the simple act of reading. If they (parents) could just read to their child 10 minutes a night that would prepare them for kindergarten so much better than anything else they could do. Every kindergarten teacher would be happy if parents would just do that."

Music to my ears. But I must put one foot in front of the other and go fold clothes.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The glory of Texas

Now that spring is finally here, I am thinking of the appearance of the wildflowers in Texas--in the Hill Country, on that stretch between Abilene and Dallas, in the fields of Taylor County. A field of bluebonnets mixed with Indian paintbrush is truly on of God's most beautiful creations.

I asked someone at church today what wildflowers I should look for in Tennessee. The person I was talking to did not know, nor did she know what the state flower is. I will have to look that up. Daffodils are popping up, but those don't count. I am anxious to see some kind of flowers in the fields between my house and town.

We are all ready for sping and her new clothes.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Andre Norton

Long before Harry Potter, there was science fiction writer Andre Norton writing of mystery, magic and intergalactic chaos. Some religious people did not approve of her writing. I haven't figured that out yet; perhaps it is because our rational minds have not room for mystery, magic and chaos. Look at our love-hate relationship with the book of Revelation for starters.

Norton died in Murfreesboro, TN yesterday at the age of 93. She (yes, she changed her name from Mary Alice to Andre so that her books would appeal to boys)won every award given in the science fiction field. In my early days as a high school librarian, she was one of the sure-fire recommendations to boys along with Robert Heinlein.

I do not know her religious background. The newspaper said she asked that no funeral be celebrated and that she be cremated along with a copy of her first and last books. In 1999 she established a library in a three-car garage on a quiet Murfreesboro street for writers in her genre to do the research necessary for bringing their stories to life--research in ancient religions, weaponry, mythology, history, etc.

Thank you God for bringing us gifted writers who give us pleasure, challenges, questions and glimpses into the battle between good and evil.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

After Brandon's review of this movie yesterday, I had to go see it today. I think Mike has also done a blog about it. It was truly heart-wrenching; more heart-wrenching to know that it happened while I was alive and well, and I didn't even care about it. I just "went back to my supper."

I must also tell myself now that tonight in East Nashville there are children who are in mortal danger, who are starving, who are homeless. Do I care about them?
I must reiterate the theme of the words of Mother Teresa on Brandon's blog--we start with one, one, one. She picked up one dying leper off the Calcutta streets and started a ministry which has thus far saved 50,000 people. The first one must be picked up. And if I can't pick him/her up, I must help those who can. There are certain people in our religious community who can go where I cannot. As a weak, gray-haired white woman, I do not need to be in East Nashville alone at night looking for the homeless. I can, however, support those who are.

Right now, I am really high on the Salvation Army and its work. I know a family in Abilene to which it has made all the difference in the world as their drug-ridden son is being fed with material and spiritual food, has a place to sleep, and counseling at the Army. As far as I know, there are no Christian folk in Abilene doing all that. I can and will contribute to this good work.

I know of missionaries from Otter Creek who are picking up street kids in Kenya and feeding and clothing them, giving them a place to live and teaching them a trade as well as about God. I can help them.

There are so many things we can do that we fail to do because we are absorbed in our 24-7 materialist culture.

I will remember Hotel Rwanda as the catalyst for my doing more.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Spring Program

I got to attend Maddie's spring Easter program today. No, they didn't sing Peter Cottontail--the theme was built around colors. The director of the school said the teachers would be happy if the children just stayed on the stage--but it was so much better than that. There were even some original songs.

I know programs are a pain for teachers, and they are always so glad when they are over.
But I must say that for parents, grandparents, and anyone else who might be the audience, such events are pure joy. I can't describe the looks on the faces of parents as they waved to their children and took hundreds of pictures. I arrived early (45 minutes) to save seats for BST and Sheryl and there were already parents there setting up video cameras. It was an exercise in what is good in America--kids still like to sing and parents still enjoy watching them. May it ever be so.

Thanks to all the teachers who labor extra hours to make sure the stage is decorated, the songs are learned, and the parents are properly notified. Have you ever tried to teach a class of 12 two-year-olds a song with hand motions? Not easy.

The last song today was Jesus Loves the Little Children, and so He does. Thank you Lord for using them as models for us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Creativity and Play

Children's author James Howe has said,"My greatest worry for children today is that they are losing the capacity to play; to create a city out of blocks, to find a world in a backyard, to dream an adventure on a rainy afternoon."

I got to babysit last night while BST and Sheryl had a date night. I watched Maddie create a tumble-gym on the den floor out of couch pillows and soft coverlets. And she and Ella had the time of their lives sliding, rolling and jumping. It was so fun. Of course Maddie was in charge, but Ella gleefully went along with everything, copying Maddie's every move.

Play is so programmed today with packaging and scripts about what the child is to do with the toy. I don't remember anyone telling me what to do with my doll and doll bed. Or telliing my brothers what to do with their cowboy guns and holsters.

I am thinkful that Brandon and Sheryl are encouraging free play with open-ended toys. And by the way, my bias is showing when I peruse the Leapfrog shelves which fill toy shelves today. Just expensive video games are they. Prefer school with real learning and a teacher who knows what to do the knowledge. The demise of recess also raises my bile. Now we must all have planned activities. I remember sitting in the corner of Hamlin Elementary School playing "Jacks" on the concrete porch with friends for what seemed like a long time each day. Hmmm Eye-Hand coordination? Sharing? Building Friendship? Now I am beginning to sound like an old curmudgeon.

For a good feeling, go somewhere and watch children invent their own fun today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Isn't it strange what your mind does when you are asleep? I awoke this morning thinking about names--about which names are an alphabetic letter and the people I knew with those names. For example, B--(Bea, Bea Arthur), D--(Dee, Sandra Dee),
J--(Jay, Jay Leno), K--(Kay, Kay Hawkins), M (Em--Aunt Em in Oklahoma). Why was I thinking that? Don't know.

The most popular names in 2004 for babies were Madison for girls and Ethan for boys.

Strangest name I ever heard for a girl was Girley Q. Gold (Hamlin, Texas) a classmate of mine. For a man--Iron Andrews (a man in my mother-in-law's genealogy. We once threatened to name Brandon Brandon Iron. Glad we didn't.

Names are important to our lives--I never knew a Delilah or Bathsheba. But I have know many Marys. Never knew a Judas, but know several Pauls. Teachers shake their heads every August about the strange names in their class, almost unpronounceable, which the child will be stuck with for life. Harry Truman spent his life explaining that was no period after S; it was just Harry S Truman.

The name above all names blesses us whatever our names and aren't we glad. Some one once said that "Grace means we don't all have to be Pauls." Thank you Lord.

Monday, March 14, 2005

AR again

Dear Kendra,

How stupid of me to put off Accelerated Reader (AR) on the teachers. Of course it is a program touted by overly ambitious principals and competitive PTA moms who love to brag about the scores their kids bring home. I think the public would be angry to know how much of their money and PTA money is spent for mediocre paperbacks, stickers, and all the paraphernalia which comes with the program. I keep hoping it will just collapse under its own weight. Unfortunately that is not happening. No, I don't know how to deal with a mediocre program--especially when some principals insist the teacher report all the students' scores to him/her and insist that those scores be part of the reading grade. Otherwise, I might suggest a subversive tactic.

Just keep trucking like the wonderful teacher you are--nobody can make you choose a certain book to read aloud to the class. I guess that is where I would start.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Evolving language

When one has grandchildren (or small children) one no longer speaks of dogs and cats. They become puppy dogs and kitty cats. "Fruities" enter the language, as does string cheese.

Another amazing thing is how much leverage can come from a single piece of gum--thank you, Mr. Wrigley. I try to keep a fresh supply of your product in my purse at all times.

It is endearingly sweet to hear Maddie sing "Hosanna, hosanna" in her little voice with perfect pitch and in tune. Heaven must surely have a children's choir.

All this is worth moving to Nashville.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Toddler Books

Jana, my list of toddler books includes some classics and some new ones. Following is a sample of the 50 on the list:

Baker, Keith. MY FAT HEN

Curtis, Jamie Lee I'M GONNA LIKE ME


Galdon, Paul. THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF (any folk tale by him is good.)
Guarino, Deborah. IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA?



Schneider, Howie. CHEWY LOUIE



Oxenbury, Helen. TICKLE, TICKLE



Friday, March 11, 2005

On a Lighter Note--Sorry state of children's books

I am gathering today a list of preschool books for Otter's Wayne Reed Day Care Center. I have been struck at how many of the books I am listing have been published before 1990. I don't think it is because I am not keeping up with new publications--I am.

I do believe that there are very few children's writers today writing books like Where the Wild Things Are or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Even Eric Carle's last few offerings have not been up to his former standard. And who today can beat Goodnight, Moon as a bedtime book? We have degenerated to potty training books, books that have very poor illustrations, and books that are just take-offs on old classics. We need good new children's writers and illustrators! Teachers, get off
Accelerated Reader and begin to give your children good books without questions at the end. Art teachers, start training your students to illustrate books--it is a good living if the artist is half-way decent.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Face to Face, One Person At a Time

More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty. More than 8 millon people around the world die each year because they are too poor to stay alive.Approximately 1.1 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty. These are all figures from the March 14, 2005 issue of Time in its cover article "How to End Poverty." The economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, whose new book The End of Poverty prompted the article ends the article with 9 goals for eliminating poverty from the earth.

The last goal is "Make a Personal Commitment." He says, "Great societal forces are the mere accumulation of individual actions." I am so pleased that Brandon took his girls to Room at the Inn last night where they met the men they had been talking about at home--the homeless. It was face to face. Later, Maddie asked to pray for one of them. Our "streetwalkers" at Highland in Abilene walked the streets of the deteriorating neighborhood, meeting the folks face to face. Now many are coming to the Oasis meals and to church. A small group of people at Highland decided to do "missional" work at the Colonial Apartments down the road from Highland which is housing for some of the poorest people in Abilene. Highland inhabits an apartment there from which the servants operate face to face. Several have been baptized. Families have been healed. Druggies have been saved. Children from there now present a Christmas Pageant every year in the Highland auditorium.

Edmund McDonald, a Presbyterian minister once wrote, "When God wants an important thing done in this world or a wrong righted, he goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn't release thunderbolts or stir up earthquakes. God simply has a tiny baby born....for each child comes with the message that God is not yet done with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life." Goodwill incarnate--is that us? Has the baby been born who can save the world? Oh, yes, if only his followers will follow him....face to face, one person at a time.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

On the edge

One of the new books I bought recently is Interrupted by God, Glimpses from the Edge by Tracey Lind. Lind, an ordained Episcopal priest, says in her preface, " a child of an interfaith marriage (Methodist and Jewish), a lesbian, and one who has spent a great deal of time with the homeless, I belong to the edge, to the fringe, to the people who are never certain if, when, or where they fit into the great scheme of things."

Several years ago, a former college roommate of mine opened the closet and declared herself a lesbian. Not long ago, a very dear friend owned up to having similar leanings, although never acting on them. The roommate is now living in a marriage with another woman who loves her. The friend has begun a ministry in her home to university students who are wrestling with their sexuality. I don't pretend to know why these two women, raised in straight (very straight) Church of Christ homes, came to these realizations. My roommate was abused by a crazy husband with a theology degree. And the friend had issues with her father. Other than that, I can only guess. In agreement with many biologists, I think that God did not make them lesbians from birth. And in my struggle with these things, it is hard to get around those scriptures of condenmation about homosexuality. But is also hard to get around those about greed, materialism, and care of the body. Thus far, I am continuing to love them as they continue to love me in my sinful state.

It is true as Lind says, that these folks are at the edge in our fellowship. Yesterday, someone mentioned a friend who was gay (we were talking about the acceptance of Jesus of the woman and the perfume in Luke 7) and conversation came to a dead standstill. We just don't know what to do about it, and therefore, we do nothing except recoil in horror. Some churches have "recovery" classes or counselors on staff. Others ignore the growing problem. Others have begun churches for those on the edge, as if another church would help. Why can't THE CHURCH help? Why can we not be "missonal" and reach out to those on the edge? By church, I mean the church universal--even the Episcopalians had a heresy trial over this topic.

I realize this is a hot topic. I am trying to be as non-homophobic as my background will allow. No hate comments, please. And by the way, Lind also mentions the homeless as being on the edge. More about that later.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Jones family

Lela Maude Jones was a gangly, awkward, red-haired, over-protected child of older parents. She was my best friend in the third grade--We both had pigtails and were more bookish, as opposed to the tom-boyish traits of our classmates.

One night very near Christmas in 1947, her father killed her and her mother, and set their house on fire to cover the crime. Of course, the incident was the talk of our small town with everyone wondering why the railroad worker, church-going man would do such a thing? I think he pleaded temporary insanity--but committed suicide before entering prison. Needless to say, it was traumatic for me and for Lela Maude's other friends. As far as we knew, there was no child abuse remotely touching our lives, and certainly no murders.

That is not true today for our children. The news is full of molesters and abuses of all kinds (here in Tennessee there were several parents recently arrested for starving their children). The news is full of Michael Jackson (and I say to myself, "What were those parents thinking?")

In my imaginary Hell there is a special hotter place for those who harm children. I know many abusers are simply continuing cycles which began in their childhoods. Somewhere the cycle must stop. Adults like teachers, principals, and Sunday School teachers must help stop it. There have been many times when I wanted to intervene at the grocery store after overhearing a parent's remarks to her/his children. And there have been several times when I have stuck my foot out in front of a running child and said,"This is not the place to run. You might knock someone over and hurt them," while thinking unkindly thoughts about their parents.
It seems to me that the epidemic of abuse in our society could be compared to those heinous crimes of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Lord, help us to remember your sweet words to children and your willingness to have them come to you.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Quotidian matters

One of my favorite new words--quotidian--everyday, commonplace. I have busied myself this morning with quotidian matters:

Folding laundry. When did that start? Who first decided that towels, washcloths and cuptowels had to be folded and stacked neatly? Wonder how far back that goes? At any rate, there is something quieting about folding laundry: The wonderful smell of clean clothes, the sense of accomplishment when it is all folded and put up. Plus the added benefit that when visitors open your linen closet or kitchen drawer, they think you are a good housekeeper!

Anyone with the slightest obsessive tendency should not buy a glass-topped table. There is always a fingerprint or mark that needs taking off. Even if no one has been near the table in 3 days. But when it is pristine and shining, it is a thing of beauty.

By the way, Brandon first mentioned my obsessive tendency when he noticed that I had all the drinks in the frig lined up like soldiers marching off to battle--all the milks, the juices, the waters, and colas were sitting one behind the other in straight lines on the shelf. Only children mention those traits. Friends are too polite to tell you.

I can't help it; were we not told to do things in decency and order?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Save Our Landfills

I spent an hour last night getting a new toy out of its box. Has anyone except me noticed that manufacturers spend billions touting their products, but they don't want people to get into them once they buy them?

This toy was in a box within a box which was plastic wrapped, wired and stapled.
Notice the industrial strength staples that hold boxes together today? Can't get them up with that handy tool, the staple puller. One must use the business end of a screwdriver and risk bodily harm if the screwdriver slips. Then after getting into the box, each piece is double-wrapped with cement-like plastic which does not tear off easily, but must be cut with very sharp scissors, if the point of the scissors can be poked into the plastic (not likely--too thick).

And those child-proof bottles which are also adult-proof--once you figure out how to get the top off (couldn't those be made generically too?), you must use a very sharp object to puncture the plastic covering which does not come off in one piece, but a dozen little sticky pieces. After that, you must dig out what seems to be a whole box of cotton to get to the pill. I am all for child-proof bottles, but let's give a break to arthritic adults. Maybe a smart engineer could figure something out.

Isn't here way too much packaging everywhere? Trying to get into a CD or DVD requires a masters in breaking and entering. And while in the grocery store, why do we put something that is already bagged into another bag so that we can take the bags home and throw them away in the garbage? I understand that some places are considering charging customers for all the plastic bags they take home.

I guess it is just another look at our over-kill society. Thank you God for all the things I don't have.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Work on taxes or read?

I have spent all morning gathering materials for taxes, checking bank books for deductions, etc. In a way, it is comforting to know that I kept and highlighted all the deductions along the way in such an organized fashion. My bookkeeping teacher would give me an A.

But what I really wanted to do (the book almost reached out arms and pulled me to it) was to read my new Anne Lamott book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I have said before that her book Traveling Mercies was one of my favorites of all time.
But I must do the adult thing and finish up so I can get the stuff to Bill Rieder next week. Anne will be there when I am done. Why can't we take deductions for books we have bought?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

It snowed here this week--Some got 3 inches; others got a dusting. Since coming to Nashville, I have fanticized about a huge snowstorm with drifts of velvet white and me with a book by the fireplace looking out the window at the glorious flakes.

So far, it is still fantasy. I don't know why I love snow so much; it is cetainly not from many experiences with it. Some of my favorite memories are snow related. When Brandon was about 3, Sam's family (including us) spent two Thanksgivings in Cloudcroft, N. M. We ate ham and drank hot chocolate by a wood fire watching skaters on the pond, and we slid down the mountain on inner tubes. I still marvel that I did that! Later in Abilene after a big snow, Sam took a plastic box and built an igloo with Brandon and the Lorenz children. Going out to the Abilene State Park after a big snow is also a pleasant memory.

I love snow songs like ...let it snow, etc. "Winter Wonderland" and "White Christmas" Wish we heard them more frequently than Christmas. Of course, I begin playing Christmas songs on November 1 and play them until Jan. 15.

Perhaps God created snow so that we could use the "white as snow" metaphor for our cleansed sin. At any rate, Thank You Father for what Emerson called "the whited air" and the dancing snowflakes.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

End notes on lists and misc.

One of the things about being a former English teacher is that people are always scared to write or talk in front of you--afraid of making a grammatical mistake. Add to that being a librarian too (O, dear I have an overdue book, and I haven't read a book this year)--one can easily see what I am fighting. I am not a grammar Nazi, nor do I check other's book records. I do, however, have the following advice to adult readers:

l. Never underestimate the role model you are to your children in modeling the
habit of reading. Parents who have nothing in their houses but People Magazine
and The National Inquirer and who never go to a library or buy a book must ask themselves "What am I teaching my children?"

2. Never waste your time reading a book that hasn't grabbed you in the first 50
pages. Life is too short.

3. Just because a book is on the best-seller list for weeks does not mean it is a
good book.

4. Just because a book is a classic does not mean it is a good book for you--try it
by checking out a copy from the public library (One of the best bargains
around!) and then buy it if you like it.

5. Just because someone like me has recommended the book does not mean you will
like it too. Reading is very personal.

6. If you read 250-500 wpm (very average), you can read at least 30 books a year
depending on their length.

7. It is amazing how much the desire for reading increases when the television is

8. Conversely, no one in the last 25 years has spurred reading like Oprah Winfrey.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Yea! These are the last few books on my favorites lists--couldn't find a list to put them on, so even though there are only two, they deserve a place. (Both books would condemn that sentence.)




Both are witty and helpful--wish I could have used them when I taught high school English.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode or Not, List 7

I minored in History in college and fully intended to teach it in combination with English until I hit Ralph Smith and Russian History. My interest in history is a little quirky as you will be able to tell by the titles:

History and Sociology

Ambrose, Stephen UNDAUNTED COURAGE--wonderful account of the Lewis and Clark

Durant, Will and Ariel. THE LESSONS OF HISTORY

community and family
must read for children whose parents are aging


Shenkman, Richard. I LOVE PAUL REVERE, WHETHER HE RODE OR NOT." Myths and illusions
about American History. The first chapter on religion should be read by all
Christian conservatives.