Monday, June 30, 2008

Slumber Party

Maddie, Ella and I had a slumber party Friday night--Whew. Here are a few things we did:

Washed my car (I try to wash it at least once a month whether it needs it or not). This was a very successful venture--the girls are great detailers and we all enjoyed getting wet in the hot weather.

Tea and toast for breakfast. The girls often request a tea party, but we haven't had one for a while. I suggested we have tea and toast for breakfast. I have a couple of tea sets that Sam's aunt gave us many years ago, and we enjoy using the real china, the lumps of sugar, and the cream in our tea--English TeaTime tea is the best. They do not seem to like the flavored teas too much. So we had a veddy English morning. Naturally the toast was cut into wedges and served with blackberry jelly. Yum.

Polly Pockets is still popular. We got out Brandon's old Playschool Village ( which is still in very good shape--don't make the toys like that anymore, even Playschool.) I always have to join in on the play--dubbed Molly Pockets, I was the mother of the bevy of Polly Pockets which came riding convertibles, motorcycles, and Safari Wagons. The village was supplemented with other "houses" from the toy box--A Dora Tree House, A small Barbie mansion, etc. And naturally, all the Pollies had to be dressed to the "T's" with everything matching even the tiny shoes no bigger than my thumbnail were donned for the trip to the village. It was fun.

By far the most popular activity was printing various things from Disney Playhouse on the computer. One of the programs offers opportunities to redecorate bedrooms--Maddie enjoyed that. Another let's one run off Disney characters and color them--Ella chose Daisy Duck which she saturated with watercolors and hung on my refrigerator door.

Oh, yes, we did sleep--at least they did. They insisted on sleeping in my bed with me--it was a bit of a squeeze, but we made it.

Any suggestions for follow-up activities next time? Oh, yes, we did read books, of course--their favorite was Wimberley Worried by Kevin Henkes. Ella recognized Henkes as the same illustrator who did Lily's Purple Plastic Purse.

Thanks girls for an outstanding slumber party!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Naming the Animals

I love The Writer's Almanac on radio and on line ( Each edition always carries a poem.

This one today was fun:

Naming the Animals

by Anthony Hecht

Having commanded Adam to bestow

Names upon all creatures, God withdrew

To empyrean palaces of blue

That warm and windless morning long ago,

And seemed to take no notice of the vexed

Look on the young man's face as he took thought

Of all the miracles the Lord had wrought

Now to be labeled, dubbed, yclept, indexed.

Before an addled mind and puddle brow,

The feathered nation and the finny prey

Passed by; there went biped and quadruped.

Adam looked forth with bottomless dismay

Into the tragic eyes of his first cow,

And shyly ventured, "Thou shalt be called 'Fred.'"

From Collected Later Poems, 2003

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fond Farewells

One of my favorite books that I have mentioned in this blog before is Famous Last Words, Fond Farewells, Deathed Distribes and Exclamations upon Expiration by Ray Robinson. It is literally a collection of the last deathbed utterances of famous people. Some are funny; some are poignant; some profane.

Here are some of my favorites--mostly poignant:

"I shall hear in heaven!" Ludwig Van Beethoven--he lost his hearing at age 31.

"Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub." Conrad Hilton--who began his hotel empire in Cisco, Texas.

"Get my swan costume ready." Anna Pavlova--world-famous ballerina acclaimed for her performances in Swan Lake.

"More light~" Johann Goethe--Light was used frequently as a metaphor in his drama Faust.

"Here (Washington) ruining people is considered sport." Vincent Foster, legal advisor to Bill Clinton who left this in his suicide note.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Living with Death

In our Wednesday night class, we are enjoying talking about The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Randy is the Carnegie Mellon prof. who is dying of pancreatic cancer. His speech has been downloaded at least 6 million times and his book about the speech is #1 on many book lists. The fact that he does not talk much about the dreariness of death makes the book easier to read.

People just do not like to talk about death, nor do they even like to read about it. I have been noticing the obits in various papers (Sherlock Holmes called obituaries "agony columns") and the euphemisms used by the obit writer to indicate death: The departed---"left this world to be with the Lord" "departed this earthly life" "stepped into heaven and the arms of the Lord" "nestled into a peaceful rest" "passed away"
and two of the most interesting: "went fishing with the Lord" "left this world for places unknown" !!!!

Writing obituaries falls to the most junior of reporters, and generally they are not works of art--but they are very good at euphemisms.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I think my favorite awards show is the Tony Awards. It was on last night--very classy, glamorous, and did not run overtime.

The plays offered as the best did not seem to have any staying power except August: Osage
County which, by the way, was written by a Texan. However, it is the dark sort of play about dysfunctional families that I have come to dislike. Someone said that literature mirrors the culture in which it is written. That is certainly true today. I find it increasingly hard to find a novel that I can read which is not full of gloom, doom and obscenities. Plays seem to be the same.

The revivals shone last night: South Pacific and Gypsy got several awards. Sunday in the Park with George looked interesting. The opening number Circle of Life from the Lion King was thrilling--where is one like it today? Or one like South Pacific for that matter? Or Phantom?
The musical muses have left the stage.

Because I have always had trouble memorizing, I have never wanted to act on the stage, but admire those who do. There is something electric about real-live performances for an audience. I have only been to Broadway twice, but was fortunate enough to see Phantom of the Opera there. I did see many plays at ACU performed by casts which rivaled the Broadway casts. And I enjoy going to TPAC--especially the musical road shows which indeed are as good if not better than the Broadway casts. But unfortuntately we have run out of good musicals to take on the road.

Somebody out there needs to write one.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Stopping for Death

Because I could not stop for Death--
He kindly stopped for me--
That carriage held but just Ourselves--
And Immortality.
Emily Dickinson, 1863

It was interesting to note that last night a media giant NBC stopped for death and mourned the loss of Tim Russert. The hour-long tribute, narrated by Tom Brokaw, was moving, spiritual and inspiring. Russert, one of my favorite commentators, was evidently well-liked by all who knew him--even those who dreaded his questioning. Over and over again his blue-collar roots were stressed and how those made a difference in his life and profession. A devout Catholic, his religion was also noted several times in its making of the man. Although I never got to see him on Meet the Press, (it comes on during Sunday church), I shall miss him as we approach the fall elections. He was adept at explaining all the ins-and outs, ferreting out the covert back-room dramas, and predicting very early who would win.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Reading Discussion Series

Doris Colvett and I began our second summer series last night. The group decided to read and discuss The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, The Shack by William Young, and light-hearted Fannie Flagg book Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.

Although the group was small last night, it was lively and should make for interesting discussions.

Why is it when one opens a decision for a book to read to a woman's group, Francine Rivers always comes up? I fail to see her merit as a writer and religious researcher. But then, I like N. T. Wright, Frederick Buechner and Henri Nouwen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Will the Silliness Never Cease?

According to the Tennessean today, 5 teachers at a Church of Christ affiliated school (Columbia Academy in Maury County) were told to switch churches or leave the school. Seems their church (not named--but probably a Church of Christ) used musical instruments during a Good Friday service. One teacher said she would retire; two others accepted a compromise--they had to agree not to attend the two or three services a year where musical instruments are played. The other two are leaving for other jobs.

Wonderful publicity for the school and the Church of Christ, isn't it? I know Columbia is a private school, but it seems to me what they are requiring is a blatant violation of civil rights--not to even mention the old tradition in the C of Ch. that all churches are atonomous and can set their own agenda. The school has succeeded in proving all the old statements about the C of Ch--we are a bunch of wierdos who believe we have the last word on truth, and everyone else can go to hell. Have a new thought? Believe in civil rights or even social justice? Prepared to fight to the death for every jot and tittle we have added to the gospel over the last 200 years? No, No and Yes.

Those who read this little squib this morning are probably laughing up their sleeves at those
poor little people who cannot see beyond their blind beliefs and adherance to mistaken traditions.

(So glad I am not one of them--God have mercy on me, a sinner.)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dear Sam

We celebrated Sam's 3rd birthday today at the bowling alley. I was quite impressed about how bowling alleys have changed. This one (on Nolensville Rd.) was quite child-friendly. The kids had a good time. I think a birthday party off-site is a good idea.

Let's see, we did McDonalds, the Bowling Alley, the skating rink, the park several times, and a very large costume party when Brandon turned 16 at the church fellowship hall.

Having Sam has really changed the Thomas equation--Spiderman, Lightening McQueen, and Batman have joined all the pink princess dresses. Airplanes, cars, and trucks are now parked amid the doll things. It has really been fun to see the differences. Having only had one child, I had no idea how different the two sexes are FROM BIRTH and continue to be as they grow.

Thank you, God for the gift of Sam. How I wish your grandfather Sam (Poppy) could have met you.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Prince Caspian

I went to see the newest edition of the Narnia Chronicles yesterday. I must say I liked it better than the first one. Those who read this blog know that I do not care for fantasy--so it was a stretch for me, as was Iron Man several weeks ago.

This Lewis classic was beautifully photographed--the computer graphics flowed easily and one was drawn into believing in centaurs, elfin Narnians and talking badgers. It did not seem to have much to say spiritually--Of course, Aslan and Lucy save the day. By the way, the battle scene was one of the best I have seen since Star Wars' battles.

The message that good wins over evil was there and all the heroes came out alive--what more does one want in a children's movie?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Books in the bookcase

I had the occasion to vist Traveler's Rest here in Nashville last week. It was the home of one of the founders of Nashville, Col. John Overton. A very good tour--full of little tidbits about the Civil War and visitors to the Overton home over the years. Overton was a very good friend of Andrew Jackson and his picture is in virtually every room. The home is several miles away from Peach Orchard Hill where one of the decisive battles was fought in the Battle of Nashville. It is also famous for its peach brandy which was served to all guests.

As I visit these homes, like the nerd I am, I always enjoy looking at the bookcases to see what the family was reading in the 1800's. Overton seems to have been a wide reader--his home has more books than any I have seen. He had Don Quixote, The Poems of Alexander Pope, and Gibbons' Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. As I have seen in the other homes, there also many volumes about agriculture.

What will future visitors see in my home (this is just for fun--I will not be remembered historically) in 2200? Well, for poetry, I guess they will see my volumes of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. In history, they will see
David McCullough's 1776 and John Adams, History of the Alamo, and Catclaw Country, a history of the Abilene, Texas area. As for fiction, they might find a little Dickens, The Shack, some mysteries and To Kill A
Mockingbird. And unlike Overton, there would several shelves of devotional and inspirational literature and several books on reading and writing. And too--lots of children's books.

One can tell a lot about a person from looking at what that person reads or doesn't read. What do your books say about you?

Monday, June 02, 2008

If Only and What If

As I read the story of Eric Noah-Wilson's sister (see, I had to ponder again how children in the same family can turn out so differently. Eric is the manager and general domo of the ZoeGroup and is a wonderful husband, father and Jesus-follower. He ran away from his very disfunctional home at age 16--but fortunately encountered a family that eventually loved him out of his horrible memories. His sister Kristi, ran away from home at age 11--but found no one to help her. She took her life last month.

My husband grew up in a terrifically dysfunctional family--full of alcohol, verbal abuse, betrayal, and lies. Yet those who knew him described him as God's man--an educator, elder, wonderful father and husband. His salvation probably lay with his grandparents and aunt and uncle (Ralph and Ruby). His siblings were not so fortunate: one died of alchoholism, the other of cancer and a life full of unfulfilled dreams.

Eric and Sam could have easily have said "If only" when their lives were so dark--but they forged on. And it is hard not to ask,
:What if" about Kristi, and Sam's brother and sister. Life does not give us "what ifs", but God supplies courage and fortitude to the one who is open to help. And those who could help such people must stand in the gap.

God, thank you for Sam's grandparents (Back and Granny) and for Ralph and Ruby who recognized his distress and potential.