Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Been a Privilege... have lived during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Sorry, folks, if you don't like or understand him, but he was a great leader. He stood firm on the things that were most important, played a strategic role in the winning of the Cold War, and had an endearing sense of humor. have come into the Catholic Church shortly after Pope John Paul II became the supreme pontiff. He was a faithful shepherd and father of the church, an extraordinarily brilliant man, and a magnet for youth and zeal. His tete-a-tete with his would-be assassin touched the world, and his wily handling of the Communist powers in his native Poland was astounding. He truly was a superstar. have witnessed the magnanimous love of Mother Theresa. Her simplicity, directness, and boldness made her unstoppable. She knew what she was called to do and simply obeyed. She didn't flinch from the dirty, the contaminated, or the repulsive jobs in front of her, and to look in her face was to know what saints are made of. live in Ann Arbor since the early seventies where the Holy Spirit has moved a people in amazing ways. The world leaders like Reagan, John Paul, and Mother Theresa inspire billions. I have known people who have brought Christ to perhaps only thousands, hundreds, or tens. But they are faithful, single-hearted, and in love with God. Our parish is exceptional, because the Holy Spirit is doing some exceptional. We should never forget who is in charge there, and be humbled that we can witness it, participate in it, and move the kingdom forward.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I just had a wonderful conversation with my best friend. I'm so lucky to be married to him, too. Never has conversation been more precious to me. Never has it been more difficult to have a good conversation. As I sink deeper into hearing loss, every single word that gets through is a gem.

Picture sitting around the dinner table with everyone who is important to you. Only this time, pretend you are watching each one on television with the sound on mute. You can hear them but not what they are saying. You can't talk to them. They can't talk to you. You sort of know what they are talking about, but not the specifics.

Imagine being a source of irritation to people. Imagine everyone talking to you with their voices raised. Imagine people choosing not to talk to you because it is such a nuisance. Imagine listening to music you love and realizing it is kind of boring now because you are missing most of it. Imagine watching a movie and not understanding any of the dialogue because there are no captions.

Some of the most meaningful times in life revolve around good conversation.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Word to the Wise

is not wasted!

Always listen to input. It may not be justified, accurate, or fair--but it is telling you something about the person giving it. The more you love that person, the harder and deeper you should listen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fun Stuff

I am having fun planning my physical science class. Having poured through library books for cool experiments, I have come up with some real stumpers. My plan is to ask before each experiment or demonstration what each student thinks will happen. The very first class I'm going to do one that is so simple, ask me next time you see me, and I will show it to you. So far, no one has guessed correctly what will happen. Now that I've told you that, you are bound to think that your first hunch is wrong! So what is your second hunch? Just don't blab the results if I show you. The fun is in the surprise.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Word Choices

Language is complicated, flexible, and always in transformation. Being a speaker of English, I have tens of thousands of words at my disposal to use as tools to communicate. Besides the words themselves, the definitions behind them can be varied and nuanced. To accurately express a thought or feeling takes some time, skill and patience to come up with just the right word choices. Throwing punctuation into the equation complicates things even further, but necessarily. Spoken words are equally complex, in that they include volume, inflection, speed of speech, facial expression and attitude--all of which are the verbal forms of punctuation.

Bad speech or writing communicates just like good speech or writing. You know something about their author: Do they pay attention to detail? Can they spell? Do they care to communicate clearly, or do they presume their readers or listeners can read their minds? Do they communicate directly, or do they rely on sarcasm and innuendo, or hide behind jargon and popular opinion? Do they care if they offend? Do they consider the receiver of their words and take consideration of how they want their words received?

My father, a woodworker, always said "Measure twice, cut once." Users of language would do well to use a similar maxim: "Think, then think again, before you speak." The choice of words, how they are spoken, and consideration for who is receiving those words can make all the difference in how effectively and successfully those words communicate the intended meaning.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Those Things that Elude You

We all chase after things. Some things we catch, while others stay just out of reach. They seem like they are right there. A quick swish of the hand though, and we come up empty-handed. Whatever that was just escaped us again.

My desk is piled high with books, papers, notes, receipts. I've been making documents furiously for days. All my preparation for teaching trudges on and the organization that I so desire--I can see it ahead, outdistancing me again. Yesterday, however, it completely evaded me, slipping around a corner, vanishing faster than home-baked cookies! I wasted gobs of time trying to find a notebook. It would have saved me lots of time to utilize those notes. I had to proceed without them. Frustrated and angry at my inability to keep track of things, I had to re-do several hours of planning contained in those precious pages. Of course, the delinquent notebook will show up as soon as I have finished planning.

People around me think I am highly organized because I get the job done. Come see my closets. Come see the piles on my desk. Come see me banging my head on the wall!

The problems I have with organization exist mostly because I expect (unrealistically) that I can store and handle objects (books, science experiment supplies, boxes of photocopied materials) in the same way that I handle computer documents: neatly filed and ready to come when I identify them. But the bulky, oddly shaped, and non-uniform sizes don't file on shelves and in closets the same way. Furthermore, there is a presumption that there even is shelf or closet space!

I am currently reading a biography of the early life of Theodore Roosevelt. He studied to be a naturalist, and in the process shot, stuffed and stored lots of specimens. He was a rich man--so he just made a museum in his own house. He had a whole staff of servants to help him. Now that is pricey first-class organization! Bully for Thee! Jolly good!

I am not rich, so I have to settle for stalking organization, hunting it down, tracking carefully, and hoping in my excitement I don't scare it off. It is a wily creature, cautious and nervous. Any false move and it will elude me again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Humble Pie

We all have things at which we excel and they are usually things we also enjoying doing. It is humbling to remember that those very things are gifts that we should not take credit for but that we should be continually grateful for. Our gifts are intended to be used for the glory of God, and any other use distorts the gift, since we have to twist it's direction to our own glory. Whether that gift is athletic, musical, intellectual or artistic, it is most beautiful when it is lifted up to the one who created it in us. Additionally, that giving back to God also reflects on us. When we glorify God, our faces reflect his face, our lives his life, our action his actions. That is what we want--to be taken for him, because we are like him. The greater our gifts, the more humbly we should apply them--not timidly or apologetically. If we use them right, they should bring great glory, awe and inspiration, not just to the ones who observe them, but we ourselves should be awed at how greatly God has chosen to use us.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sweating it Out

I am feeling really great today, having just returned from my regular workout at Curves. Most days it is just was it is described as: a workout--which is an abbreviation for work until you're pooped out. Not today. I wore a tank top and shorts, which makes me feel either really fat when I'm not happy with my weight, or really thin when I am--which I am now. So feeling thin, and happy with the results of some hard work over the summer, I worked extra hard and my energy was not sapped. It was one of those rare days when you feel anything is possible.

Most days it is just grunt, sweat, pull, push, and grunt some more. You leave tired but satisfied that it is over and that you managed to get through it one more time. By the time you get home and stop sweating and are ready to shower, you are beyond satisfaction. You are proud of yourself, respecting yourself, and feeling some energy return.

So today was a gift. By the next time I go, it will be back to grunt and sweat. I'll take the gift, but the grunt and sweat days are what keep me going back.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The World at Our Finger Tips

Truly I believe the internet has been the greatest culture changing development since the printing press. Information, goods, people and causes are all at our disposal within seconds. It is a soapbox before the whole world, a warehouse of every conceivable product, a social connector of peoples and cultures, as well as a sewer of disgusting behaviors.

Its uses are increasing exponentially, and how it affects or dominates our lives is up to us. I now make phones calls using its caption telephone options. I put my calendar on there to remind me of everything from appointments, to birthdays, to watering my plants. I also let it remind or inform my family members of upcoming events. If I want a product I can find it doing a search. If I want some information--same thing. If I need a map all I need is the address and a minute of time. It sends me information about my credit and banking status. It has connected me with people I had lost track of, and acquainted me with others that I didn't know very well. I get the funniest pictures, cartoons, videos and stories sent to me, and I pass some along myself. I have scanned and posted my favorite photos out in cyberspace. Recipes are available by the hundreds for single ingredients, and I am probably underestimating that.

This post could get very long indeed without much trouble or deep thinking on my part as to how the internet is changing the way we live. But part of my point is that much of it is convenient, enriching and delightful. However, there is a downside. Can our world get too bloated to sustain? Can there be an overload of possibilities that keep us from the smaller, delicate, and beautiful things that we now overlook for the big picture? Can we become too burdened by the anvil of knowledge around our necks? We need to proceed carefully to make sure that we are using this as a gift to make us better people. If the effect is otherwise, then it is time to reevaluate.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Discriminatory Procrastination

Ever notice how you never procrastinate doing things that are fun, exciting, or just the challenge you were looking for? No, procrastinating is reserved for all those mundane, gritty, unavoidable chores that give little joy until they are behind us. They nag us, implore us, scare us and threaten us to take action, often to little effect. And when we do decide to move, it feels like a surrender. Our resistance has broken down. There are no options left except to do what we should have done long ago.

And why do we put up with nagging, threats, stubborn laziness? A tension exists between what needs to get done and how desperately we want to avoid it. The pressure builds, and then the cracks in the wall start the crumbling of our will.

Sometimes we go through times of great discipline. We get up and go at it every morning, till much more is done than we thought possible. We are energized by our effort, encouraged by our discipline, and proud of our efficiency. It just does not seem to be sustainable for indefinite periods of time. And that's when the list grows, our lethargy kicks in, and the discrimination starts for each item waiting, waiting, waiting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

OK. This is just a complaining rant.

Two nights in a row all the lights have been left on!

I found a broken fan blowing--broken in the sense that the cover had come off and the blades were whirling exposed to the whole world!

I asked someone to do their chore in a timely fashion. This person did not, so I woke said individual up this morning from a blessed sleep so it could get done on time...

The dog is still shedding. He should be ashamed of himself at this point.

There is a lump under the carpet downstairs. Do I have to rip it up to find out if the lump is a dead mouse??? In frustration, I step on it every time I go by!

I hate fruit flies!

I can't find a document I need to get something done.

People don't seem to realize that the dog needs water in this kind of weather. C'mon, folks. Let's not have someone representing our dog's best interests sue us! (It could happen.)

A useless project was foisted upon me, as if I have all the time in the world. I will probably get asked if I finished it, which means I have to do it or hurt their feelings.

When the bread in the bread box turns green you don't have to wait for me to find it. You can throw it out yourself. It's not that hard.

Insects living in the oak tree that hangs over our deck are pooping Karo syrup onto it. For weeks we could not sit down out there unless we didn't mind sticking to our chairs. That's the last straw for that tree. We need firewood.

Cover your mouth when you cough! Not with your hand!!!! Elbow. Elbow!!!

Phew! Now I feel better.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Corn on the cob is a sensual experience. You can eat it dripping with butter and gritty with salt and pepper, or like me, eat it au natural. Personally, the melted butter oozing down my chin is not what I consider pleasant, and it distracts from the taste of the corn. I like to feel the kernels with my lips, and enjoy the popping sensation as I bite down to detach all that golden goodness.

Slightly under-ripe corn is so superior to over-ripe starchy corn. It is the Cadillac of corn, whereas the ears with kernels so crowded they have become rectangles instead of little bursting bubbles, are the pre-owned clunkers in the corn lots. They are tough and invariably stick between your teeth, reminding you that you just ate an inferior piece of produce.

Most people don't realize that after you have eaten the corn off the cob you can milk the cob for the best flavor of all. By scraping your knife down the rows, the interior creamy portion of the kernels which sometimes gets left behind, slides out. One cob can produce another decent spoonful of this milky, tender sweetness. It is worth the trouble to not pass it up.

Fresh corn on the cob is beautiful to look at, fun to eat, and deliciously sweet. Never turn down an opportunity to eat it off the grill, where the natural sugars have carmelized to a golden brown and that smoky grilled smell turns your salivary spigots on to full blast. And never, ever cut if off the cob is you are capable of eating it intact.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Notice Posted

Going to be on vacation soon, so you won't see any posts for a little while...