Thursday, July 28, 2005


When I was pregnant for the first time, I made a trip to Washington D.C. by myself. I thought of the trip as my last chance to have time to myself. Though I stayed in a friend's apartment, she worked while I came and went as I pleased. I spent days on end in the Smithsonians staring at Picassos, Renoirs, Cassats. I drank in the details of sculture and pottery. I puzzled over Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can. I rambled to coffee houses here and there. Very pleasant and relaxing.
That was 12 years ago, and I haven't taken any long trips since- alone unless you count the ones to the grocery store.
In two days, I will have another chance to rediscover time to myself fora period two weeks. I'm visiting Santa Barabara. I'll have hard but good work in the day, and late afternoon to evenings are free. I'm hoping it's a walk to the beach. Sand between my toes, rushing water sounds in my ears, wind in my hair, and liminal vistas to fill my eyes will do.
Talking to other moms the other day, I mentioned my trip. One looked dismayed and said, "I took a trip by myself once, and I ended up going to the mall to stare at other people's children because I missed mine." Inside I panicked at her words. Anxiety begins to creep in. What if I miss my family THAT much? Or worse, what if I don't? Does that make me a terrible mother to not want to look at children I don't know? When I think about my dear husband's choices with the children I worry a bit. When I went out for a day, he let my 9 year old daredevil try the lawnmower. Next thing I knew, and when no one was looking, I found my boy on the lawnmower looking like he was about to start it. My children constantly already say, "If you won't let me, Daddy will." What about the chaos of an unattended home? What about the looming school year? I'll start teaching late AGAIN this year. What about the things I've put off that I promised I'd get to when I get back? How will I get to it all?
Then I remember, I really love my family even if I'm spending weeks away. My husband is a better man than any I know. And he loves his children in a way they need that I can't give. Houses can be remembered. Time will fall into place as it always does to get to all my self assigned tasks.
I suppose this is one way to survey an abundant life. I have opportunity and possibility always at my finger tips. I feel compassion for others who have emptiness and don't have to things to look forward to. I'm grateful for this part of my journey. It will never come again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I said to my soul

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darnkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. From The Four Quartets, "East Coker" T.S.Eliot

Monday, July 25, 2005

Loss and...

Remember, sister, tears too, are the water of life.

I stepped into the huge and empty marble hallway yesterday. My eyes traveled up the stairwell with gorgeously carved rails. The tall hall echoed with my greeting to a woman I'd never met before. I immediately excused myself to the bathroom, because I needed to change into the appropriate clothing for the occasion.

Just being able to attend was a daunting task. I had to find a sitter for my children on a day and time most folks are at church, and I made some elaborate plans with a friend to overcome the interruption this exchange would cause. Handing over four children prepared for church and swimming, and lunch is enough. However, my daughter was going to a BOY'S house, and desperately needed to drag a suitcase full of GIRL toys making matters more complicated. The cookout that evening required a dessert, so I needed to make and bring that detail along too. I blew kisses once my children were situated in the sitter's van, and drove to my destination.

Beth had organized the event, and I mostly trusted all would be well. Beth has a way of preserving the sacred in a difficult situation. There was gamble in all the unfamiliar faces which surrounded me. The task I'd assigned myself was weighing on me. I was flat out nervous, but struggled to push that out of my mind. I was there for Tara, and my insecurities would taint her time.

You see, Tara and her husband have separated. The legal papers for divorce were signed recently, leaving Tara and her beautiful daughters to make a new way for their family. Beth and she wrote a life blessing to celebrate Tara's new beginnings, and I was amazed to be invited to participate.

Beth handed me a script she and Tara had worked out ahead of time. She pointed to the words and actions, she'd planned for me to do in the ceremony. I realized immediately she was risking too, because she had composed words which she longed would comfort, affirm, bless her friend in a time of tumultuous transition. Beth knows the power of words, and bravely puts them together in an untraditional fashion, tailored for healing. She had the slightest hint of apology in her voice as she explained, "We are using feminine imagery, and I hope you are comfortable with the use of these particular symbols and use of words." She leans in and says in a more intimate, knowing me voice, "You have a special job, because you are a catechist. It's a little more complicated, but I knew you could do it." She led me to a large sea shell full of salt water on a stand, and we worked out my role a bit.

I chat with a few acquaintances, some people I know and like a lot. I'd like to know them better, but so far, I haven't shared much of my life with them. I look to connect with Beth, but she is busy preparing. I keep fighting my mind about the gift I've brought for Tara which has me in knots on the inside. Is anyone else presenting a window to her soul like me?

In walked Magic Meredith Lee bringing her usual peace. Meredith Lee has shared in my secrets and tears, my life. I don't see her often anymore, because our work together came to a halt when I moved two years ago. I hope the future will weave us back together one day. I make myself walk to her, because dashing wouldn't be polite. I don't jump into her arms, because that too, would be impolite. She wraps her arms around me, and I breathe deeply. It felt like I'd been holding my breath before her arrival. "I hoped you could come" I whispered. She answered, "I wasn't sure I could make it, but I'm glad to be here." We go and get water together then create two spaces from one on the couch. Beth sat on the other side of me, and I was hemmed in and cozy.

Beth calls us to order and we begin the ceremony. Here are some of the words:

God calls us to right relationships based on love, compassion, mutuality and justice. Whenever any of these elements is absent from a martial relationship, then the partnership no longer reflects the intentionality of God. No one marries with the intention that her marriage will end. No one claims divorce is a wonderful thing. However, the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we are forgiven our sins and our failures, we are raised from the dead and restored to new life. The death of a marriage, like the death of a the grave, has no power to rob us of the life that is intended for the people of God.

Each woman decorated the liturgy with images of light, bread, wine, milk and honey, cloth, flowers. On my turn, I dipped my finger in the shell and read about the waters of life. I had resolved that my presentation would be clear and untarnished by a wavering voice. I scooped a bowl of water from the shell and took it to Tara. As I looked into her eyes, I needed to pause to collect myself from welling tears. I dipped more water on my pointer finger to trace a tear on Tara's cheek and carefully spoke, "Remember sister, tears, too, are the water of life." She turned to the person beside her and did the same. The bowl circled the room. I remembered the quote framed in another friends home, "In your marriage, may you be so close that when you cry your partner tastes the salt of your tears." Doesn't every marriage begin this way? How can this feeling disintegrate and fall away over time? I allowed myself to spill my own tears.

More healing words and symbols, and soon it was time to present our gifts to Tara. We'd been asked ahead of time to bring something inspirational to us and a token for Tara to sum up our gift. Beth knew my plans ahead of time, so she thoughtfully asked me in the transition time, if it would be to helpful for me to go towards the beginning or the end. I was relieved to " go as early as possible, so I won't be distracted with my thoughts as the others give their gifts."

Beth announced she'd go first to break the ice. She read a piece she had written on the "toad people" who live inside her head- the ones who live deep down, criticize her and demean her. The ones who tell her she's less than who she is. She refers to them as the FCC-the expletive critical committee who want to scare her into less of a life. She tells Tara the ways she shuts the toad people up and how she deals with them. She hands Tara a genu-wine handmade brown, yellow, squatty toad person with wide staring eyes, and a jar with a tight lid to seal it into silence.

Beth's talk took the edge of the "toad people" at work inside my head at that moment. After she finished, she turned to me, and I rose from my chair feeling like I was about to jump off a cliff.

"First I'm going to tell you a story. Then I'm going to do something for Tara" I begin.

About 15 years ago, I knocked on a friend's door. She was sweaty and breathing hard, but she had a pleasant cat grin on her face. I wondered what on earth she'd been doing, so I asked. I halfway expected a peek of a partially dressed man to be behind her apartment door, so I definitely did not comprehend her answer.

"I just had the most....Incredible.......Prayer time" she paused between sighs.

I hadn't ever come from a prayer time looking like that. I came away from prayer wondering if I'd said all the right things and if I was really finished. She looked downright satisfied. She opened the possibility to me, that prayer could be much more than I had ever experience. She had passion and even romance in her prayers. Was that possible?

I began to study and practice prayer. I tried different prayer positions and styles. I read prayer. I wrote prayer. I found new ways to connect with God. Then I found one that leaves me breathless, sweaty and satisfied, and I'm going to do that now for you. Mostly, I do this in my secret place, but this is something that truly inspires me, so I will share it with you."

I sit on the floor with my knees under me. Man, it hurts as I've had knee reconstructive surgery a few years ago, and my knee doesn't quite bend like that anymore. Also, I have a torn muscle up my calf from an exercise injury last week. Beth takes my cue and turns on the CD player.

The music starts- Matt Redman "Breathing the Breath". I see my hands slightly shaking as I begin to move them with the soft piano sounds. I rise and build my dance as the song progresses. It's hard to get up with that bum knee, and I'm self conscious because I am no slender ballerina by any stretch of the imagination. I'm concentrating on the words of the song and my body's interpretation of it. The space is small, but I want to cover it all. Now and then I remember where I am and notice people's eyes are on me. I refocus my attention to the lyrics "I'm breathing the breath that You have given to me" and my arms move up the front of me to outline the invisible life coming from my chest. I am breathing hard and sweaty when song concludes. I am satisfied. I hear clapping, but I don't associate it with myself.
"I've just prayed for you Tara." I hand her the CD with a hug and sit down.

The room is silent for longer than I am comfortable with. Meredith Lee breaks in something like, "Can I move to another seat? I can't possibly follow THAT." I think I hear someone else say, "Noone can." I drink until I drain the last of the water in my glass. I am at rest again.

Meredith then finds her feet and offers her gift. A quote she hesitates to give but is compelled to give none the less. She explains that it's crass, but profoundly true. "The truth shall set you free, but first, it will piss you off." She applies it beautifully to Tara's situation. For a good southern girl, Meredith has got guts.

The next woman I do not know shares a passage from a book. What I remember most was something along the lines of what life might be like if we had a group of older, wiser women gather around us, affirm and support us from one transition in life from one stage to another. She mentioned planning a gathering like that for her daughter after her first menstrual cycle. The passage ended with something about dancing and the woman gave Tara a silver dancer pin. Someone mentioned "synchronicity" and Anne Lamontt looking over to me.

One woman read a poem she had written about a huge tree that had fallen in her back yard during a terrible storm. I'll print it here when I get a copy. She associated it to losing a good friend, but now having sun in a spot in her yard she'd never had before. She pondered what might grow there now. My mind went to Tara in that she had lost a dear friend. Doesn't everyone marry their friend? He and the shade of his friendship are gone, but now she has sun in a place she hadn't before.

Many others shared their gifts and words with Tara, but I'll mention details of the last two.
One recited the PERFECT poem by T.S. Eliott expressing the wanting to know what the future holds, but having to wait until it unfolds.

The last was Laurel. She told a story about losing her mother to suicide at a young age. She remembered storing that pain inside till one day alone deep in the woods, she let it all out. In it's place, she was overcome with a sense that she was never alone and very loved. She carries that feeling always today. Honestly, it shows in her smile, and I just didn't know it till she put words to it. She also drew a simple picture of Tara inside a glowing huge hand. A wonderful concluding gift.

We gathered around Tara and read the final prayer together. We ate and drank lovely things together.

As I departed, I thought of the pain Tara might feel when her home emptied of all her guests, and she went back to an afternoon alone. I knew she would join her sister later, but there would be time in between. Remember that marble hallway? It echoes. I prayed Tara would find the forest in her own mind- the same place Laurel realized she was never alone and so very loved.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I have a secret talent. Not many know it, but I can wallpaper, and I really like doing it. One can make it a persnickity and tedious job, but fussing over it just makes the wallpaper surley and hard to manage. That's where I come in- I am not persnickity or tedious about anything. I put a piece of wallpaper up and fit it to the space. Not too much fiddling to make it perfect. My compulsive personality makes me uninterested in taking lunch or bathroom breaks. I want to work till a room is done. I suppose the thing I like best is the visual reward at the end. Wallpaper transforms.
One of my dear friends moved into a home last summer which required much work, cosmetic and otherwise. We painted whatever stood still, including our children if they slowed down too much. One room we did not attend last summer was her bedroom. The walls remained drywall and the trim and doors raw wood, and at the beginning of this summer, I asked if she'd like to paint there. She mentioned wallpaper. It wasn't long until I included wallpaper in our every conversation, because of my secret passion for it. I dragged her to my favorite wallpaper store and she took many samples home. She made a delightful choice- a marblely antique white with pressed leaves, but it had to be specially ordered. In the mean time, she decided to redo the ceiling in a fern and swirl method. A couple of days we got together and painted trim.
Yesterday, we worked from 2:30 pm till 11:00 and put up the wallpaper. As we worked, we found that instead of the cabin look we thought the leaves on the paper might produce, we both realized the style was straight out of a gorgeous old victorian home. All her bedroom furniture is antique from her grandma, and it was the perfect fit.
We had one tense moment in the process. My friend dared to ask that we take one difficult piece down that was part around a window and then curving around a corner, and try again. She had stepped on my cardinal rule of not fiddling too much. Starting over on a new piece is persnickity and tedious, and I simply won't do it. Okay, you may think, this is HER room, and she can do as she pleases. I told her she was on her own with that piece if she started over. I mentioned how sometimes wallpaper runs out if giant long strips are wasted. She opted to work with me to make the piece work with me. We didn't need to go to therapy together and work through my stubborn streak afterall.
When we finished, the room was so cozy. Her husband said, "The room looks as it should. The furniture and wallpaper go together well." She is going to hang mirrors and pretty bunches of spices today. I'll have to drop by soon and see the finished effect.
I love transformation. I love changing something for the better. It's my joy.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hurry up and wait...

I MADE my 8 year old son join the swim team this year. He's one of those boys who is loved for his gentleness and good heart, but he's not so very athletic. For the past two years, I've asked and he's flatly turned me down, "That pool is too long. I could never make it to the other end." He played in the baby pool at 7 years old (!) while his older brothers swam on the team. I couldn't bear the thought of another wasted summer watching this son as he chased three year olds in a foot of water.
I dragged him to swimming lessons in the winter to build strength and confidence. He gained a bit of skill but was still challenged by the length of the pool.
This year, I gave him no outs. He spent a few weeks at swim team practice, stopping during freestyle to stand gasping for breath and then pushing off the bottom and swimming a little ways only to stop again. It was painful to watch. He looked like a drowning cat, complete with scowl and desparation as he clawed at the water. He would be disqualified for pushing off the bottom in a swim meet.
It wasn't too long till a coach showed him breaststroke. He realized he could take a breath each stroke, and it turned his whole swim season around. It was a way for him to make the distance without stopping on the bottom. That day he said," I will never swim freestyle, back, or butterfly. I will only ever be able to swim breaststroke." He spent the next few practices only swimming breaststroke, but he started gaining stamina he couldn't work up to before. So when he experimented again with freestyle, he could make it down the pool without stopping (IF he took his head all the way out of the water like breaststroke). A week or two later, he made up his mind to try backstroke and VIOLA! He figured it out quickly. Soon, he conquered butterfly, and not long after figured out rotary breathing (turning head to side) for freestyle.
Yesterday was the Smoky Mountain Invitational Swim Meet. He swam like a pro if you don't count when he completely missed the start of a race, and didn't begin until all the rest of swimmers were halfway down the pool. He's nowhere near the top swimmers of his age, but he's strong and quite competant in the water.
His Summer goal is more than MET.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Who am I?

It occured to me today I have two books interesting me this summer which are antithetical to one another. I hesitate to mention the title of either, because mostly people would find one or the other completely offensive. However, I'm finding jewels hidden among piles of coal and rubble as I read. Should the authors meet face to face (and this would never happen) I doubt they could even muster civility to one another. One is a book on feminist theology and the other on the wife's subordiance to the husband. Why don't the books sitting one on top of the other, try to tear each other's pages out in a furious rage? How can I find either of value?
I could easily split the people I know along the lines of who would agree with which book, but the truth is.... I see most operating in both spheres just like I do. The women who vocalize most about being under their husband's authority tend toward acting with most authority in the home. The women who vocalize most about feminism tend toward being the most needy. Strange isn't it?
Women I admire put action behind their words. Both authors live out what they believe. Women I know and admire do the same. I have strong opinions. but from these two books, I see I have more work to do in both. I want to see justice for the oppressed, and I know this includes women. I want to have intimacy and vulnerability with my best friend only found in loving him better than myself.
So who am I?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Laughing Out Loud While Reading a Book

I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud while reading a book. Maybe because I mostly pick serious literature or something to study. I need to lighten up!
My husband, who reads only occasionally, bought a book _Praise Habit_ by David Crowder. My husband read it but failed to convince me how funny (and meaningful) it was. My children are wondering, "What is up with her today?" as they hear me laughing sitting on my bed reading.

Here's an excerpt from David's book:

"Last September there was an irregular tapping in my chest. A tapping on my breastplate from the inside. Not a gentle, constant drum but an erratic thud pouding at volatile intervals. The tapping would be slow and with the velocity of the index finger and then WHAM! a fist coming through. My wife took me to the ER. I am afraid of doctors. I am afraid of dentists. Anything medical. Anyone in white. Anyone with access to needles and the education to use them. I can't look at needles without feeling faint. I've never actually fainted, but I'm certain that this is that feeling. The kind lady in green hooks me up to wires. She studies the sheet of paper. She then asks me, "Are you on any kind of street drugs?"
"Excuse me?"
"Are you on any street drugs?"
I laugh nervously, " Uh, I'm not sure what you mean, but I don't think so. What do you mean by 'street drugs'? Like driugs from the street like Tylenol? No, I'm not on street drugs, I'm certain. Yes, I 've thought about it, and no, I'm not on street drugs."
She doesn't believe me. (See author photo.) She says there will be tests and I should just tell her now. "

My husband and I really love David Crowder's music and have been to a show, so we know what he looks like. We agreed he would fit right in around here. His hair is in somewhat a wild fro, he wears black safety looking glasses, and has a nice snarly tuft of hair only at the end of his chin much like our goats.
I hold David Crowder personally responsible for the "guitar love" of our middle son. The jury is still out if I appreciate this love altogether. At the show, my son made his way up to center front just so he could stand and stare at David's hands, sweat glistening and rolling down his guitar as he played. Now I'm getting daily lectures on the differences between semi-hollow bodies and solid bodied guitars from a nine year old.
So, Mr. Crowder, thanks for music on headphones to get me through running my 5K's, opening a door for my son to find joy in strings, and for the laughs and epiphanies from your book.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

To Be Known

Drink of Him
Drink Again
Saturate the longings of your soul
Today my mind went to that melancholy place of standing in a huge crowd and feeling intensely lonely. I decided loneliness is the vague portion of larger emotion for me. I've worked just now at putting words to that larger feeling.
Maybe it's sheer arrogance, but I'm longing for people I know to who I am, and that I might have a perspective from further down the road. I call from up ahead, "Catch up. Come with me. Fear and complacency lead no where. Don't be satisfied with the mundane. Get bold. Find courage."
When I sense the direction of something moving from best to good, I become unsettled. I experience disappointment when I know potential is untapped or fading.
The truth is I am impatient.
Always running ahead, I miss the very thing in others I want people to see in me- to be known and valued. I want to remember to stare into any person's eyes and really see the whole of them. Is it so hard to find a person's passion, and dwell with them there for a time? Mostly, I'm too self centered to do so, but when I purposely try, I am always amazed.
My middle son taught me a tremendous lesson on this. He kept asking me if he could call and talk to a person we both know and just to talk. In my head, I discounted this person and thought, "That will be a short conversation. He's about as deep as a puddle." My son never thought so, and has had some lengthy chats with this guy. Suddenly, because my son has decided to treat this person as a human with a heart and brain, my nine year old son has a relationship like I have never been able to muster in all the years I've known this man. Why did it take me so long to see that my judgement prevented me from relationship?
Are all humans like me? Does everyone want to be known and valued? Are we all too busy with our own thoughts to SEE one another? I look for the day when we look at each other with deep respect and understanding, and I realize I have to practice the art of seeking another's life myself.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My mom and her grandchildren Posted by Picasa

Organinzing my thoughts

Things I've accomplished before 10 am this morning.
1. Fed, watered, mineraled, and milked goats
2. Fed, watered chickens
3. Picked and weeded a bit in my jungle of a garden
4. Collected eggs from crazy places (argh)
5. Tidied up garage
6. Started Laundry

Still to do:
1. Attend workshops at a conference today
2. Make breakfast for the little guys
3. Freeze peppers I just picked
4. Work out
5. Record swim team times
6. Read some of a book for Tuesday book club and figure out my theology QUICK
7. Tutor my children
8. Study
9. Think of something really fun to do tonight with the fam

What I'd like to do but won't:
1. Go to a bed and breakfast with my dh for the night.
2. Hop on a plane and take fresh bread and cookies to people in London who have lost loved ones.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Chocolate Love

I definately have a thing for chocolate. Last night, I decided chocolate chip cookies were in order since my dh and oldest son have deserted the rest of us for boyscout camp. I get all the ingredients out and realize, alas, no chocolate chips. This is impossible since chocolate chips are to have on hand as much as eggs, milk, and flour. We always have those because we have chickens, goats, and buckets of wheat for grinding. If there was an animal or grain that produced chocolate chips, I'd keep it on hand. Since there is no such beast, Wal-mart will have to provide. I buy bags at a time.
I got desparate and I poured over the cabinets with a fine tooth comb for that hidden stash. None were to be found. Would this stop me? NO! I decided the Hershey's bars left over from our cookout for s'mores were to be raided. Surprisingly (or not) the cookies were great with hunks of Hershey's bar inside.
This leads me to the quote I decided may be next personal motto:
"I thought about giving up chocolate. But then I realized, HEY, I'm no quitter!"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Education to Wonder Quotes

I'm adding to quotes to help me think about my lecture prepartion.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.--Rachel Carson

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I would ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.--Rachel Carson

Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is. Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!--Tasha Tudor

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.--Helen Keller (The Story of My Life)

Childhood is the world of miracle and wonder; as if creation rose, bathed in the light, out of the darkness, utterly new and fresh and astonishing. The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us.--Eugene Ionesco

The moment one gives a close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world unto itself.--Henry Miller

Stuff your eyes with wonder ... live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.--Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.--Eden Phillpots (in The World within the World by Barrow)

You know you're old when you've lost all your marvels.--Merry Browne

He who can longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. Albert Einstein

Wonder implies the desire to learn. Aristotle

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. Greek Proverb

Wonder is the basis of worship. Thomas Carlyle

Monday, July 04, 2005

July 4,1005

Here are some things I did today: 1. Wished I wasn't such a nag with my family out loud with my husband. 2. Ate weird food 3. Went to the gym and talked about apple turnovers while I did ab crunches 4. Read a little for myself 5. Read several picture books with my little girl 6. Watched fireworks on tv with my children (sad, but we'd went to some in the park Saturday night). 7. Took a really hot bath to relax while my four year old talked my ear off (oh, well) 8. Watered and harvested from my garden 8. Talked serious friend stuff with Tami 9. Thought about moving to China 10. Looked at blogs- I need recommendations of some interesting ones to follow 11. Got a call from a neighbor looking for his dog who is dreadfully scared of fireworks Maybe tommorrow will be more interesting than today.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Our first goat babies ever. Cowboy and S'more. Any guesses on how they got their names?

City Girl, Country Girl

I am not a real farmer. I am a college educated woman who grew up in the suburbs. After being the kool aid mom one day too many in the burbs, my dh and I moved ourselves to the country to connect our family to nature. Since we've had two years of firsts. First lessons in milking our goats, trimming hooves, growing flowers and veggies, caring for chickens, figuring out and finding a livestock guard dog, giving animal injections, fighting poison ivy, and even animal husbandry.
I have to say all these things have had their challenges, but I am tied in love this land and all that surrounds me.
Here's a recent example. My free range chickens have been acting wiggy. The hens scratched the hay in their laying boxes into strange and wild shapes. They are not laying at all in one of the coops. They are hanging out in different places than usual. I didn't understand what was up til I asked my husband to change the hay to see if that helped them mosey back to the nesting boxes (instead of laying hide and seek eggs behind bicycles in the outbuilding, and in a corner of the goat shed). He found wasps (!) IN the hay. No wonder my sweet little ladies were acting strangely. DH sprayed the wasps out and we are waiting for the girls to return to normal. I hope they do soon. I'm sick of looking for eggs all over the farm.
As I said, I am not a real farmer. Real farmers eat their chickens when they aren't laying anymore. I guess we will have a convalesent home for aged chickens, because I love them so.
We do drink our goat milk, but only one of the five produces. So, we have four other really cute goat pets. Real farmers sell their goats or eat them. My children would never speak to me again if either of those options were chosen.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Education to Wonder

One of my tasks for and upcoming training in August is compose a lecture on the topic of wonder. Today is an excellent day to write some thoughts on the subject to help my lecture gel.

Anyone know the name of the inventor of the electric guitar, distortion, echo, multi-tracking? I have a 9 year old son who would like to shake that man's hand.
Les Paul started early to tinker with sound. He said it all began when he was very young as he noticed he could change the pitch on his Victrola phonograph by slowing down or speeding up the record. Next, he opened up the piano in his living room and tried to manipulate the strings to change the pitch, but he noticed the pitch would remain the same just go shorter or longer. From this he asked the question "Why?" and began his quest, a passion which remained his entire life to work with sound. His natural curiosity made him the waymaker for musicians today to make and record their own sound. His gift was wonder.
What are your ideas on wonder? What questions do your heart dwell on?
I try to keep this gift in mind as I listen to my son turn on his amp and fiddle with the same chord over and over on his electric guitar. My son's wonder drives him to create his own sound, and I have the task as a mother to give him learning space. HOWEVER, what's a mom to do when she hears the same rift for hours at a less than peaceful noise level? "Turn it down please." "Could you play that somewhere else?" "We need to get to swim team. Turn it off." "Did you finish your chores before you started playing guitar?" "Just let me have a little quiet for a while." Sounds to me like I'm trampling wonder. I don't mean to, but I do.
When I look at the child's potential to wonder, I think of it as a means to help him or her find her passion and meaning in life. It's the last thing I want to squash. It's like squashing the person altogether. My challenge as a parent is to give my children the TIME to find and work in their passion, but in American culture, a kid is supposed to get sports, music, foreign language, algebra, history, decimals, AND dinner in the same day. Where is the TIME to be?
In a song I've been pondering lately a line goes like this. "What was said to the rose to make it unfold was said to me here in this place. So be quiet now and rest." I translate rest as time to be and wonder. Sofia Cavalletti calls wonder "an irresistable attraction to activity." She writes about acknowledging the reality of God as being unmeasurable, and unfathomable. We can make a habit of looking God's marvels in the everyday things like the rose or the child. I do.
If I attend wonder, I will see how God surpasses anything in me. Can I place the sun in the sky? Can I make my garden grow? Can I heal my children?
Wonder is the most important thing inside the child to keep intact, becauset it's the main tool to release our potential as humans.
Have you held on to your sense of wonder? Can you recover what may have been lost? I say "Yes!" The gift is always waiting.

Friday, July 01, 2005

My Garden in May

My garden in April Posted by Picasa

My little guys in our small town Posted by Picasa

July 1, 2005

This morning I woke up thinking of all the things I might do today. I decided to blog a little to clarify my thoughts. I have four children and a dear husband, so I have many obligations each day. Today I have the laundry list of sundries like watering the garden, making sure the children are fed, and getting our house and yard ready for a cook out tommorrow, pick and weed a bit in my garden, checking my son's boyscout packing list for camp next week, going for my workout, and borrowing time somewhere in there to do things I really want to do like study for an upcoming course and pick flowers to put all over my house and porch for tommorrow. I have enough zinnias growing to outfit a wedding.
My garden is usually my favorite spot in the summer. However, the zuchinnis, tomatoes and zinnias have gotten so gigantic at the entrance, the path is not as inviting as usual...and I got stung yesterday on the foot when I was out there.
Last year was my very first year to begin a garden, and I decided a regular row garden just would not do. I had in my mind's eye, a Peter Rabbit garden straight out of Beatrix Potter books. When I was discussing the fence to keep out the univited creatures with my husband, he dared to mention we already had t-posts (ugly green metal) and field fencing (not so pretty wire). I invited him to look with a more artisitic eye at fences and gardens the next few days. He found nice carved posts and wooden boards which we filled in with an acceptable wire. I went on to him about a focus point for the middle of garden, so he took me to a garden store to find a trellis, some clematis flowers, and a lovely little statue to mind my plants and flowers. Today, she's a bit hard to find among the towering zinnias, nastursiums, and snap dragons.

My husband and I Posted by Picasa

My son and I on the Great Wall Posted by Picasa