Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Only Blogging

I visited some blogs of late that left me wondering "Why didn't I think of that?" or "Wow,she really is organized." or "That was pretty deep. I am not that brave to blog with vulnerability like hers." or "Yikes, need to develop a better vocabulary." To top that off, I have esteem issues with my writing skills. Never good enough.

Which is crazy, since blogs are by no means literature. All the blogs I've read follow only one rule, which is "Do not bore your readers." I confess, I've been breaking that rule more consistently than I care to think about. When I start writing about the antics of my dog and cats, it's pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel. I'm not listening to much Dylan lately because of lots of Christmas music, so no inspired posts about my favorite muse. BTW thank you to "Dylan Devotional", for adding some of my posts about how Dylan's gospel music influenced my walk with Christ, and thank you, Dylan Devotional readers for your visits.

Truth is, I am always deep in thought, but not everything is bloggable. I may be thinking of some things worthwhile to blog, yet may not have the time to blog it. Life for me does not revolve around my computer. Yet, I do desire to write more engaging and thoughtful posts, and yes, develop better grammar and vocabulary. If you have ideas or feedback, please email them at thealater2@comcast.net. Thank you, readers, whoever you are, for following my 2008 blog and hope that 2009 would be even better. I hear from some of you from time to time which is great. Some of you I know, and some of you I don't, but thanks for your encouragement and participation!

Onward...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Potpourri

What I Do
I swam three days straight in a row, each day adding five more laps than the day before. As time allowed. Despite having a free schedule, I managed to be really busy. I long for a day when I can swim as many laps as I want. I won't go with anyone who has to be anywhere or can't handle more than 15 minutes in the pool. I will swim. Take a break. Swim some more. Bring water. A notebook to record the distance. Extra towels, maybe have one warming up in the sauna.

Marathon days.

I have reading marathons, swimming marathons,cleaning marathons, organizing marathons, cooking marathons,writing marathons, prayer marathons...thinking marathons... For me, a few hours at anything and then switching over to something for a few hours else breaks a rhythm and my concentration. I like focus. It's more relaxing to know I have the luxury of time to work on this one thing until I'm satisfied. For a day things might be unbalanced. But I got it done and it got done well. No pesky interruptions, no schedule to keep, just one thing and one thing only. I hate multi-tasking at home.

Val Kilmer and His Pets

I previously posted a couple of clips of Val Kilmer and Dylan from "Masked and Anonymous", a movie that really sucks. I thought they were interesting because of the choice of animals and Dylan's reaction to the rabbit "sacrifice". Kilmer's monologue is edited in such a way that you realize that his character is crazy, not just disillusioned with the human race. Listening to the rant that borders on the truth but doesn't quite get there, it's obvious that something is missing. Man doesn't have a place and being born is a curse. But the rant stops there without indicating the reason why things are not the way they should be. We are "masked and anonymous", our existence is a "mystery", which is true. But we were originally destined for something more and our lives are not supposed to be meaningless. When we are cut off from our purpose, life gets very frustrating indeed. We long for things to make sense. In Kilmer's and Dylan's world, nothing makes sense, everything is decaying and anything goes. That environment is the product of Kilmer's crazy, fuzzy logic. It's almost prophetic.

Thea and Her Pets
Carly and Fred, the two cats, are now buddies. No more hissing threats, territory battles and broken kitty hearts (mainly, Fred's). They play, they conspire in pirate operations in the house, and they are affectionate to each other. Consequently, three is a crowd, and Ginger, the dog, is like the kid on the elementary school playground who lost her best friend. Sometimes, she tries to participate in the pussycat games, but she can't keep up. So, I have been nicer to her than usual, letting her know that even though she's a dog, she's still okay with me. I let her up on the bed while I read. She gets extra treats. She even gets playtime with me. I know what it's like, to be left out. And it's good to enjoy her dogness. Always happy and ready for affection and a good time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I like Val Kilmer's acting. I like Bob Dylan's music. They come together in "Masked and Anonymous", one of the worst films of all time. A bad movie that I enjoy very much.

Val is character who lives on a sort of refugee camp with his animal menagerie, and Bob is passing by on his way to record a benefit concert. Val gives Bob a three point sermon on why animals are superior to man. It's horrible, but I am fascinated by the symbolism of the animals--the sheep and the goat, the pride of the peacock, the snake...not sure what the rabbit means, but the sacrifice is interesting (love the ending of part two). Why is this included in the movie? I'm not sure, but it illustrates that in Dylan's eyes the world is fallen because of mankind.









Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Time

I'm into the "right here, right now" mode, or "living in the present" instead of thinking much further than a few hours ahead at a time. And I'm having a great time. In a way, I'm tuning Christmas out. It's stressful to think of all that I usually do and seem not to be doing. Not much baking, no Christmas cards yet and not much shopping.

But the Christmas music is great. I watched "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown", my favorite Christmas special. Church has been wonderful. We've got a wreath on the door, a tree up and decorated, a pointsetta for the dining room, nativity nearby ready to be set up (more about this later) and stockings ready to be filled. We have guests for Christmas eve, a dinner plan and a breakfast plan. It's going to be fun.

Have a Merry Christmas and thank you for reading my blog!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Am Weak But He Is Strong



Rock of Ages, Bob Dylan, November 17, 1999.

Desire

Lately, I've been thinking about community. I really desire it, but it is hard for me to see it come about most of the time. My husband is really good at this creating community thing. I don't claim to be. But I think it is time that I examine this and learn how to do it. I live with the perfect role model, so there is no lack of opportunity.

Right now, Dennis is meeting with six men in bible study, all of whom have a different length of relationship with him. One he's known since 1978. Another since 1989. One guy flew in for the holidays, we've known him since 2002. And two young college students that we've known since August of this year. And now, they are all together, spending time in God's Word.

This happened by no accident. We know that God is doing this, not Dennis nor me. But I noticed that Dennis is always on the phone with most of these guys. He doesn't use emails much (like me) nor Facebook. He just uses his voice. And his message to them is pretty much the same. He wants to see them, when can they all get together next? Pretty simple, huh? But the community isn't happening over the phone. It is in that regular time they meet together, whether they are shoveling snow, playing Scrabble, having Bible Study, working out or praying.

The Bible tells me to delight in the Lord, and He will give me the desires of my heart. My desire right now is deeper friendships with women, a spiritual community, more communication, more face to face time and less Facebook. To do things casually and fun. I started having ideas about this after watching "Beyond Belief", a documentary of two widows who lost their husbands when their plane crashed into one of the 9/11 towers and reached out to the widows of Afganistan by raising money for them to start their own businesses and educate their kids. Eventually, they went there, even after their friend, Clementina was kidnapped and released. I coveted the closeness of their relationships, even with women who didn't speak English.

Yup, I'll keep you all posted.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who's The Pet?

Fred (aka Fredo, but Dennis likes plain old Fred) and Ginger are playing. Fred is our orange tabby. Ginger is our golden retriever. Fred is hiding under the ottoman and Ginger is trying to get him. Until she gets distracted by the toy she found under there. Sorry, Fred.

Dennis is the object of attention and affection for both Fred and Ginger. He feeds them scraps. He has them following him all around the house. When he sits down, there they are, either on him or next to him.

But Carly, the tortoise shell beauty, is mine. She is not as playful nor as social. She is slightly neurotic. She can't be bought by food. And she loves me for me. When I get home, she meets me at the door and follows me. She's been fed, her water dish is full and the litter box is clean. She just missed me, that's all. She won't be carried or held. But when I pet her, she acts like she'll die if I stop. She never acts this way with any other. And it occurs to me, that I actually belong to her.

Friday, December 12, 2008

For dinner tonight:

Lamb shanks with Cannelli beans

Spinach Salad

Whole wheat baguette

Gingerbread


I'm using one lamb shank and dividing the meat in the beans, the baguette is from a trip to Whole Foods in Ann Arbor yesterday and the gingerbread is a mix I got from Trader Joe's during the same aforementioned shopping trip. I went with Shauna, who is a grad student and fellow foodie, as well as Dennis, who had an appointment at the VA hospital. We stopped at Common Grill in Chelsea on the way home. Shauna and I had salads while Dennis dug into the lunch special, broiled whitefish on a bed of rice pilaf.

I was inspired by my trip to Quebec and sharing food with family. No matter what, the kitchen was the heart of the home. Gordon and Sylvie were working, so I had the honor of fixing supper in their ultra clean and organized kitchen. Although they are working parents and don't have much time or energy, the simplicity and efficiency of their kitchen made it a pleasure to cook in. David and Daniele, also working parents, had the same efficiency that made preparing meals a breeze. Both French Canadian families demonstrated the priority that food has in their culture-- to eat well, healthfully and economically. Gordon has an old one cup coffee maker that looks brand new. And nothing is ever wasted.

So, one of my first chores since I've been home is cleaning and organizing the kitchen. Even though it is small, it has a lot of potential if I work harder at making it efficient.

It's been a pleasure to cook ever since.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Being Real

Yesterday, I wanted to talk to someone about sin and grace--and how that affects relationships by stripping off the masks that we hide behind. I didn't think that was an issue until a revealing moment with family. The people who know us best can see beyond those facades we put up, and no one knows us like family. We put our guards down just for a second and find ourselves vulnerable to reactions from scorn to teasing to acceptance. And vice versa.

Being real is often an act of being real. Most of the time, we are protecting our true selves from anything that we fear would bring rejection and shame. It is rare that we feel as though we can share what we really think and feel with the people close to us. It is rare to find someone we really trust to know us, who is ready to go to that stage of intimacy and be known as well.

Throughout the Bible, we discover a God who is willing to deal with us on that level--in the sense that He knows us deeply. It is logical that the Creator is familiar and understanding with His creations. But even more than that, He is letting Himself be known as much as possible within the boundaries of His holiness and righteousness, with a promise that we would know Him better in the life after this one. In the Bible that I read, God seems to care about bringing us closer to Him in every way.

Lately, though, this kind of spirituality is often mocked not just by non-believers but also believers as well. In some magazine articles or books about Christianity, there is a backlash against emotional spiritual relationship with Jesus or sharing "too much information" in small groups. As though having God as a friend would bring Him less glory.

After spending most of my life in pursuit of a closer walk with Him, I'm finding myself holding back a lot about that relationship. To describe to what extent Jesus holds me together not just spiritually and emotionally, but often times, physically and mentally would not seem credible to most of my hearers both Christian and non-Christian, but the fact is He is the reason I am still around at all. He is my only source of love, peace and joy. If He is my light and my salvation, who can be against me? Aye, truely no one, not even myself.