Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'm tickled pink as tomorrow is the last day of school co-op for the Vyne family. I asked my seventh grader Peace to write his teachers a good old southern thank you note.
Here's what he wrote to this English teacher, and I do quote:
Tank yous fore lurning me about comp; my kin is so pleazed

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Yawn Post

I intended to write something meaningful today, but here's what I did instead:
watered the garden
tended my new flowers
made muffins
scrubbed floors
scrubbed bathrooms
cooked lunch
scrubbed the kitchen
weeded through heaps of clothing for my children (winter clothes away, spring duds out)
worked on a Shepherd's Call with Jo
talked to a dear friend
10 loads of laundry
cooked dinner
sorted seeds
decluttered but not as much as I'd hoped
discovered two leaks
washed the shower curtain
listened to a whippoorwill with my boys

On the subject of decluttering- I've been thinking hard about how I could let go of some of my books. This is extremely difficult as I'm an addict. I have at least 10 bookshelves scattered throughout the house except the bathrooms. I have baskets for books in the bathrooms. I know, if I tried very hard, I could alleviate one entire bookshelf and earn some used book credit to boot. However, the thought of which ones to part with overwhelms me. Wouldn't that be like giving up children? Should I hire a therapist to help me sort through the shelves? I'm afraid it's hopeless.

Friday, April 27, 2007

I just received an invitation which is written entirely Spanish. Here are the words I recognize:
Cinco de Mayo
Derby de Kentucky!
mint juleps y margaritas
television nueva
Svetlana's address (suspcious isnt' it?)
May 5, 3 pm (post time 6 pm)

What do you suppose it all means?

Thursday, April 26, 2007


by John Updike

I sometimes fear the younger generation will be deprived
of the pleasures of hoeling;
there is no knowing
how many souls have been formed by this simple exercise.

The dry earth like a great scab breaks, revealing
mosit-dark loam-
the pea-root's home,
a fertile wound perpetually healing.

How neatly the green weeds go under!
The blade chops the earth new.
Ignorant is the wise boy who
has never performed this simple, stupid, and useful wonder.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I attended a gathering today where a friend of mine, Chris, spoke. He's a powerful orator and inspirational man. He mentioned this painting "Christ Enters Brussels" as a favorite. Chris told us the painting was controversial and shunned in it's day(1889), because Christ was not depicted as a the leader with followers coming behind. Instead, Jesus' image is hard to find in the midst, the center, of the chaotic crowd. Chris compared the work of Christ as spiritual director as something much more closely related to this painting, walking beside people, than artwork which shows Christ out front. This is a match to my pedagogy as well. God became flesh in Christ and made a dwelling place among us. Reachable. Personal. Close. Touchable. Knowable. It's astounding that Christ would call us friends.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm not even Methodist but...I'd like to proudly announce that, according to this terribly scientifically accurate poll, I am John.

You scored as John the Methodist. You are John the Methodist! You are a mysterious, shadowy figure obsessed with the threats that zombies and abstract art pose against humanity.

John the Methodist


Lorna Koskela


Art Ruch


Theresa Coleman


Keith McIlwain


Gavin Richardson


Jonathon Norman


Allan Bevere


Abi Carlisle-Wilke


Which Methoblogger Are You?
created with

Saturday, April 21, 2007

How Does Truevyne's Garden Grow?

Seeds planted today:
Honey and cream corn
Snap Dragons
a few sunflowers
wildflower mix
yellow squash
pole beans
gourmet bush beans

I know, I know it's heavy on flowers, but what's a garden without beauty?

plants planted from dear Hauna:
5 tomato
1 pepper

Only three of my sugar snap pea vines made it through the Big Chill, but the chives have a lovely happy bloom. And I have three little asparagus ready to be eaten which I forgot to bring in today. I'm mourning what I think may be the loss of my most favorite lavendar from a fancy greenhouse, but the lavendar plants I began a few years ago look perky. All traces of volunteer Zinnias died in the frost, but there is good news. The frost also killed the beginnings of volunteer Morning Glories,glorious yet completely invasive, which eventually overtake my unkempt garden by August. I guess I'll have to pick up more zinnia and sunflower seeds and tray of tomatoes, basil, and sweet peppers. We especially cannot have summer without a thousand Zinnias at Truevyne Farm.
After bugging me from the "get go" this morning...

Tater: Mom, can I have computer time now?

Truevyne: No, honey. Maybe later.

Tater: You've said that a hundred times already.

Truevyne: Later.

Tater: When later?

Truevyne: I dunno. It's a pretty day. Go play outside.

Tater: You already made me be outside the whole time while you were in the garden planting. Mom, you've been on the computer all day except for when you were gardening. Why can't I do that?

Truevyne: I'm writing an article. Go write an article.

Tater: What?! I'd rather play a game, Mom. I'm a kid.

Truevyne: Fine. Half an hour. No fighting with your brothers and sister afterward, okay?

Tater: Forget it. I'm going to teach myself yo-yo tricks instead.
If you mess up at being a wife and mother, nothing else you do really matters. Jackie Kennedy

I must disagree, Mrs. Kennedy. Every wife messes up. Every mother messes up. Some more than others, so I believe what matters most is much more about learning and teaching forgiveness than not "messing up". Mistakes are inevitable. Forgiveness and healing are optional.

Honestly, I used to think I could live my entire life without regrets. I woke up every morning and went about my good work- with inner city families and my neighbors. I did all the right things for all the right people. Looking back, I had a poorly examined life and conscience at that time without realizing it.

When I was pregnant with my first child I thought, "This will be easy, because I'm already great with children. I will study all the right books and be an expert parent."

Then I gave birth to my first son. I did not figure on the emotional tail spin an itty bitty seven pound living creature could cause. First of all, the birth did not follow the textbook. Secondly, despite my careful research and care, Peace dehydrated and had gotten a "fever of unknown origin" in his third day on earth. He spent several days from then on in the Children's Hospital enduring IV's, spinal taps, and blood tests. Seven days later, my husband, myself, and my mother returned home safely with Peace though we were utterly exhausted, spent, and undone.

Thirteen years later, I remain undone. I have a pile of regrets which string to the moon and back. The funny thing is that I don't really mind. I can't do or be more than I know how to be. I learned in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd that life "is a big work, a long work." I can't live in fear of messing up, because my life is messy. My marriage and children need deliberate and constant care and tending exponentially more than my vegetable garden. Weeds in the heart are far more difficult to pull than the stubborn Johnson grass which loves the right side of my tomato beds.

I know avoiding mess ups to be hopelessly impossible when:
my six year old daughter angrily cries, "You are breaking my life when you make me clean my room!",
I try to "help" the reluctant Peace with a composition assignment,
Wise One won't stop whining,
Tater refuses to acknowledge his mistakes,
and Buck has to listen to my ugly fuss about clutter on the kitchen counter.
Finding a way back to one another in conflict is the harder and more important task.

So, Mrs. Kennedy, since you can't speak for yourself from where you are, the charitable assumption is that you knew and practiced the art of forgiveness which kept your family strong and beautiful. I hope you don't mind me taking the liberty of going beyond your quote.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thicket Dweller got me thinking (again) in her recent posts, "How do I feel about what people, even strangers, think about me." My first response?

I don't care what others think of me. thank. you. very. much. I yam what I yam.

Those of you who know me, know that I don't struggle terribly with negative self worth, and I'm not hopelessly inclined toward arrogance either.

However, my first "I don't care" reaction didn't ring true inside the core of my being.

Yes. I. do. care. what. others. think.

And here's how I know- because the behavior of my children tells me so. Thicket taught me that when my children turn into whirling dervishes upon entering a store, it's because they sense my immediate dislike for what they "might" do. When children feel uncertain, they act uncertain. In turn, they look to parents for clues of how to be in times of question. When I give my son the "you are an embarrassment to me" vibe, inevitably, he becomes an embarrassment.

If I didn't care what other people thought of me and my brood of children, I wouldn't worry over their behavior. After all, and with the exception of the childish untrained parts, my kids are incredible human beings. I like who they are. Why do I change my mind so quickly about my own stepping into a china shop? They aren't bulls. Monkeys maybe, but not bulls.

The one factor which changes in the "china shop + me + children= certain disaster" equation is me with all my selfish thoughts and fears. It's simply callous that my own child can instantly become a bother to me if I want to look without his interruptions of "I have to go to the bathroom." and "Can't we go to the children's books first?"
I worry that something might get broken if I don't watch like a hawk. So, why can't my hoodlums look silently without touching and follow me wherever I want to go?

One answer is that God made children curious, so that they would be hungry to learn. How boring and sad the alternative would be to have zombies thoughtlessly trudgng behind in a store I find delightful. One goal I've always had for my offspring, aside from the goal of creating compassionate activists (as if I could do that?), was for each one to fall in love with learning.

In thirteen years of parenting my children in public, nothing has ever been broken except for perhaps a crevice in my child's heart when I am too harsh.

Hat tip to Thicket for teacing me a new lesson. Let's hope it sticks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Panic. I just realized Tater is taking his final assessment in language arts for the year this afternoon, and I'm not prepared for summer. Otherwise, in the morning he'll wake up with absolutely nothing to do but fight with his brothers and sisters!

Not. Good.

Honestly, I am so over homeschooling that I'll embrace the break like a black bear hugs a dripping honey tree. I'm sick of cracking the academic whips over children as they whine, "I don't want to do math today. Why do I have learn about fractions anyway?" I have never acquired any brilliant answers to inspire my progeny toward scholarship except for the standard, "You don't want to raise your family on a minimum wage job now do you?" My motivational speech generally yields absolutely no effect, because my children honestly believe $5.25 an hour is an absolute fortune.

I'm scrambling to make summer charts of chores and enrichment for each child. The chart will give Tater a gauntlet to run and list a few things to accomplish before he starts irritating Peace to pieces, getting Wise One to cry, and clashing like Titans with Pooh Bear.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I Stop Writing the Poem

I Stop Writing the Poem
by Tess Gallagher

to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I'm still a woman.
I'll always have plenty to do.
I bring arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I'll get back
to the poem. I'll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there's a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it's done.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Deerlodge weekend for us again sans the working man, Buck.

Big hits:
1. MOM My Ride

2. Homemade tamales Buck helped me make beforehand smothered with Sweetwater Valley Farm Jalapeno cheese sauce

3. Adult conversation

Friday, April 13, 2007

Air Traffic Controller's Wife Rant

From the "get ready for more of it" files...

Recently, only one full performance level air traffic controller was scheduled in New Hampshire tower for a four hour stretch. After three hours on position and in compliance with FAA procedure, he handed his planes to the nearest center to watch over as he took a necessary "biological break". That's FAA lingo for "potty time out".

Two planes were left in a holding pattern for 12 minutes until he was able to return to position. Twelve minutes is certainly not unreasonable considering ten flights of stairs may be in the mix for the controller to scale.

However, one of those two planes in the holding pattern contained human lungs for a transplant.

Think the shortage of air traffic controllers is not real as the FAA states? Think it won't ever effect you or someone you love? Get ready, it just might.

Even if the FAA recognized the shortage and did something about it NOW (besides the current brilliant plan of mandatory six day work weeks), it would take a few years for trainees to make full performance level.

Currently, starting pay at the FAA academy is $8 an hour. Once one makes it to a tower like Knoxville, it's a whooping $15 an hour. Anyone want the most stressful job for that kind of pay in which one mistake might result in the death of hundreds of people? Old air traffic controllers, like my man, get paid exponentially more.

Call your government representatives. They are responsible for the shut down of negotiations between the FAA and the air traffic controllers in June last year.

Really, I'm mean it, really, old air traffic controllers do not want more pay. In fact, they are willing to take paycuts. More than anything ATC's want REST, days off, to bring back limits to time on position, a reasonable plan to hire new controllers.

When we contacted our state representative before June 'o6, he voted with the FAA against air traffic controllers on the basis that he believed my husband wanted more money. Ridiculous!

Don't let politics compromise air safety.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Four years ago, after my knee reconstruction, I took up swimming. I swam a mile every other day for about a year.

I was reminded yesterday of why I run and don't swim nearly as often.

First of all, one has to bring a whole lot of stuff. You may know I don't even like to carry a purse much less a loaded gym bag- towel, clean underwear, suit, swim cap, pony tail holder, ear wax, and goggles. I've actually forgotten my towel, more than once, and had to use the paper ones from the sink holder to dry off before. I get ear aches without the wax. My horse hair requires the taming of a holder and cap lest I inhale wet strands of it gasping for my next breath. I get a less-than-fresh feeling puttting underwear in which I've sweated in during my weight workout. I wear contacts, so goggles prevent me from blindness and needlessly bumping into other swimmers in the lanes. My goggles have gone missing, so I borrowed Tator's yesterday. I needed to empty the right eye of water six thouand times, and my nose bridge held the imprint of an uncomfortable red gash for an hour after removal. What trouble.

Second of all, it takes a long time to swim. I can run three miles in half the time it takes me to swim one. And all that undressing, dressing, undressing, showering, dressing takes another 15 minutes. Then there is the 45 minute drive home. It's a long time to be out and about.

I surprised myself by swimming the entire mile. While it's not beautiful to watch, I manage all the four competitive strokes. Buck says he doesn't think he could endure a water mile, but he beats my running records every. single. time.

My knees whispered, "Thanks for the break, woman." a thousand times, so maybe I'll fit it in my schedule once in a while for the sake of those wimpy joints who cause me such trouble.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Today goes down for me as a great day. It's painfully private except to say my work I love best may be going somewhere I prayed it would, I've been asked to do something I love, and a plan for India in January 2009 may be in the works.

The great day is simply about hope for me, since the rest of the day was rather ordinary. I made muffins, homeschooled, looked at really old pictures with my children as they pulled them out all over the living room floor, walked the track with my walking buddy, read a little more of The Velvet Elvis (it's getting somewhat better), ate a delicious grilled dinner which Buck, Pooh Bear, and Tator pulled together, got medicine for Buck's sore tooth, and rented V for Vendetta.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Vyne Easter was fantastic.

My children glimpsed at the treasures in their Easter baskets on the kitchen table as usual, but we quickly made our way outside to dig up from the garden our jar of Alleluias and Hallelujahs written on strips of white paper which we buried weeks before. The late cold snap caused us to slap on coats before we headed out the door. As a family, we fast from these two words during Lent. Once Buck reads the Easter story, we open the dirt crusted jar shout, "Alleluia, Hallelujah!" till it resounds across the meadow. Through the nearby fence, the goats inquired with their "ah,ah,ah,ah"s as to what we doing at the crack of dawn beside not feeding them. Tator had to chase stalker rooster Mohawk away for Pooh Bear and I to feel at ease for our family sunrise service.

I hurried off and away to spend the first hour of church with my buddy, Tom, who is autistic. My family arrived to worship with me the second hour. The presentations of song, dance, plays, and Word celebrated the Risen Jesus in a fresh and beautiful way.

We spent the rest of the pleasant day into the evening with the most hospitable Sky family. I didn't see hide nor hair of my boys except for at mealtimes due to the six entertaining boys the Sky home endeavors to contain. Carrie and I split the menu and laid out a splendid table. Of course, with that many boys, the meal was devoured soon after serving. Our families also both filled 300 eggs with candy for the traditional hunt. Buck and Bert took about half an hour to hide the eggs, and it took approximately four minutes for all eggs to be found.

I truly don't understand why Pooh Bear always fusses about going to the Sky's home, because she always has a grand time. "There are just too many boys there", she complains the week before our visit. She says she needs a girl to play with which the Sky's are just about to provide- they leave to pick up their five year old daughter through Chinese adoption in just a few weeks! Her Chinese names mean "Thinking of you forever". Pooh Bear plays with Thinking's dolls which wait patiently in Thinking's new room for her much anticipated arrival. The Sky's youngest boy, Eli, joined Pooh Bear and together they played non-stop house and mommy and daddy. Buck went out on the deck to harass them at one point and began talking in his old man voice, "I don't even remember your wedding. Two babies! How is it that you already have two babies?" Bert helped Eli and Pooh Bear dye eggs in the afternoon.

Other friends of the Sky's joined us for dessert of carrot cake and cupcakes. Carrie made a very Southern Living like Easter basket out of cupcakes. It was adorable. Pooh Bear and Eli put the finishing touches of brightly colored covered chocolate chips in all the right and wrong places. The conversation was light and pleasant, and sometimes deep as usual. I feel incredibly blessed to be part of the Sky Easter tradition.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Not that I needed anything else to do, but...

Lectio Divas

What do you think of the name? I'll want feedback on concept and content if you could be so kind.

A day in the life...

Nothing says, "Dump all your junk right here" like a clean kitchen counter.

What happens when you put together:

a light box
a projector
black sand
stirring music from the Passion
an artist?

Something magnificent. Joe Castillo, the artist, presented the Passion of Christ story using these materials by drawing on a lightbox in sand using his fingertips. The images he constructed projected onto big screens in our church as he worked. Joe's digits slowly and methodically painted out scenes of the Garden of Gethsemane to the glorious Resurrection to the music from the Passion of the Christ.

His art set the solemn tone of Good Friday perfectly. Thank ye, Joe.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

GEORGE HERBERT(famous "Metaphysical poet")
‘GOOD FRIDAY’ (written in 1633)
O my chief good,
How shall I measure out thy bloud?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?
Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one starre show’d thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?
Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumne, score a grief?
Or cannot leaves, but fruit, be signe
Of the true vine?
Then let each houre
Of my whole life one grief devoure;
That thy distresse through all may runne,
And be my sunne.
Or rather let
My severall sinnes their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure doth know,
Each sinne may so.
Since bloud is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloudie fight;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sinne:
That when sinne spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sinne may say,
No room for me, and flie away.
Sinne being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sinne take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Don't know where you stand on women's college ball, but we got the champs (again) here in Tennessee. Give a shout out to our Lady Vols.

I ran into Pat Summit once in the grocery store some years ago. Did you know she actually eats food like the rest of us mortals?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pooh Bear and I were browsing in Kohl's when an older well dressed saleswoman stopped Pooh Bear in her little six year old tracks with the exclamation, "Ruby red slippers! What pretty shoes." The elegant lady lifted her bifocals up closer to her eyes from the silver chain on her neck to take a closer look, "You look like the girl from Wizard of Oz. What's the girl's name from that movie?"

Pooh Bear grinned up at her baring her partly grown in front teeth, "Dorothy." There's no other shoes my girl will put on her feet of her dozen handsome hand-me-down shoe collection.

"That's right" the woman stooped down to look into Pooh Bear's eyes and continued, "Do you know, when I was in jr. high school, I got a pair of ruby red slippers too. I wore them to the homecoming dance and got first runner up in the homecoming court. I was never a beauty queen, but I won. Girl, your shoes made me remember that day. It was the first day I felt that I could be something- I was something special. I'm glad you wore those slipper here, so I could think of that again."

The clerk then turned her gaze my way for the first time. I could see a question mark in her shining eyes.

"Aren't those the times we remember that give us confidence and pride, the good kind of pride? I see that in you now." I affirmed in all genuineness. Her clothes, her walk, her talk, spoke the word "beauty".

The saleslady gave me a long nod of her head before walking off to her work duties, "Thank you for blessing me today."

When I look back on those awkward jr. and high school days, I remember three days when my opinion of myself changed to something of embarrassment to one of self worth. None had anything to do with winning first runner up at anything, but a transformation in the way I thought of myself.

I'll share one. I might be mortified to write the others out loud.


All my high school hang out buddies had chosen entirely separate colleges spread across the USA- University of Kentucky, University of Virginia, Johnson Bible College (TN), Eckherd (FL), Northern Kentucky University, Indiana University, and others I can't think of just now. We met at Reet's dad's for our final "Big Chill" gathering before the first of us left the next day. Much of my time in high school was spent with lounging around some one's living room singing to guitars strumming. Ritt, Marc, and sometimes Jim played lotsa Fogelberg's "The Reach", Joel's "Sadness or Euphoria", "Captain Jack" and Dillon's "You ain't going nowhere". Many homespun tunes hailed from those fine men too. That last night together we jammed together one last time, and someone, probably Reets captured the memories with the camera. She shot tons of pics and sent them out to us all.

Helen and I sorted the photos from that night together. Helen stopped flipping through the stack abruptly at a picture of me on the floor, hair everywhere (still that way), in a college sweat shirt and short blue jean skirt, arms supporting my outstretched frame looking over my shoulder. She asserted, "True, whenever you start feeling like you are having an ugly day at college, get this picture out. Aint' no way the girl in this picture can't feel great about herself." I was taken aback. When had I ever taken a good picture? I may have rushed to disagree with her and searched to point out my flaws, but Helen was right, the picture was entirely me and entirely good. Maybe for the first time, I let myself see beauty in myself.

If you are thinking, "Isn't that vanity or selfish pride?" then you would be quite wrong. This new found loveliness sank inside my being and prevented me from taking crap from those who considered me less.

Helen probably doesn't even remember that day (till I ask her to read this post), but her comments made all the difference in my college experience and probably still even make a difference now. I gained confidence in self presentation which still follows me today.

Do you have any important ruby red slipper or photograph stories to share? Make sure you share them with me even if you don't want to do so on my blog.

Did you know this man turns 40 tomorrow?

Under all that coarse humor and sarcasm is one of the sweetest men in the universe.

Perhaps you didn't know he called my boys pretending to be Barney on their birthdays when they were very young? What single man who digs girls, parties, music, and radio remembers to call a five year old on his birthday?

I truly appreciate the friend you have been to Buck and our family for all these years. Heck, you're the only Uninvited Guest who will still talk to us.

You're simply the best, Chris Comer!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wise One: Today at enrichment class we learned that exercise actually makes you smarter, Mom.

Me: Now that explains why I am so very smart, doesn't it?

Wise One: Yes, it does.

Me: Did you tell your teacher your old mom exercises?

Wise One: No, because it is so obvious!

The best thing is that this boy has not guile or pretense. He means what he says every time. I gotta love that child.