30 June 2007

Writing, Writing, Writing

So here I am in Indiana after taking planes, trains, and automobiles yesterday. And yes, when the train passed through Gary, Indiana, I did sing, not caring that the guy next to me got up and changed seats. Here I am with some of the Misfits, and there has been food, laughter, and drink. And more food. Mich makes a mean pico de guac. We've been relaxed. So has my stomach. Relaxed right over my jeans.
But I'm getting some writing done. They gave me a shove on a short story I needed, and after I recovered from the cold, algae-filled pond water (when they push, they really push), I ticked the keyboard.
And Phil's been in the kitchen with Dinah cooking (which I'm thankful for both because he's a good cook and because when he cooks, the kitchen warms up, and my, but it's chilly up here).
Tomorrow I go into Chicago for the rest of the week. Heck, maybe I'll even post pictures. But don't get your hopes up.

27 June 2007

Straight on toward morning

This past weekend, the fairy dust took me to East Texas, where I taught a women's retreat. You know, at first, I wasn't too excited about the topic, the Bride of Christ, but in preparation, I discovered all the love, hope, and unity, not just between the Church (the bride) and Christ, but between members of the Church, and it moved and inspired me. God worked this weekend, as He loves to do when we open up our hearts. For those of you who were praying, thank you.
This Friday, the fairy dust will take me to Chicago and Indiana, first to spend the weekend with fellow Misfits, Michelle, Jen, and Jenny, writing and laughing and then laughing some more, then to spend time with my bestest friend in the world (yes, my BFF), who moved to Chicago back in August. We'll see Wicked, watch fireworks on the Navy Pier, drink lots of coffee, eats lots of toffee, go to the Art Institute, stay up way too late, drink more coffee, and chat until we lose our voices. All in all, good times, good times.
So don't expect much from the blogging Heather. She'll be too hyped on coffee! But I will let you in on this secret: the Misfits are starting a group blog, and we launch next week. If it's half as fun as the people themselves, you're in for a riot (not the L.A. type). More on that later.

21 June 2007

Our house is 30 years old, which for Texas, where the sun wears you and your house down, giving you both wrinkles before your time, is old. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things to love about our house: the concrete floors my husband stained before I met him (man, love those floors), the patio out back that looks out into our rosemary, aloe, basil, strawberry, tomato and other sundry plants, my new flower garden in the front yard, the wall painting my husband did in our bedroom. But there are also things not so great. Like the 30-year-old mildew in the shower grout. It's not so bad, but it's not great. So we had a guy come out to give us an estimate in redoing our master shower only. Which turned into an estimate for re-tiling the floors, replacing vanities, new toilets, new onyx showers for two bathrooms. He gave us a price. We spewed our drinks. Needless to say, for a man working in full-time ministry and a woman who is a writer/speaker/flute and piano teacher (snap, snap, snap), it was about $16000 out of our price range. So we went back to our original: acryllic in one shower. That was still, oh, about $5000-$6000 out of our range. Yes, I'm the master of under-estimation, time, money, you name it. It won't ever take me long to do something or cost much. Uh-huh. (Erin, writing pre-coffee! Danger, Will Robinson!)
So I did something for which Barkat would diatribe, and, honestly, for which I myself hate. I bought bleach, sprayed it over the tile, and waited (with windows open). I hate using bleach, but it worked.
But what I really want to tell you about is my vanity counter top. I'm so glad we decided to not get them replaced because I discovered the other night that the gold glitter laced throughout the ivory marble is actually fairy dust waiting to take me to far, far away places.

19 June 2007

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

A month or so ago, I picked up an article entitled, “Can You Overshelter Your Kids?” Expecting an answer in the affirmative, I was surprised to read a resounding no. The author said of course you can’t based on God’s actions. She explained that the opposite of shelter is endanger or expose and since God never endangers or exposes us, we never can to our kids, therefore you can’t overshelter your kids, by golly, shelter, shelter, shelter!
I have to wonder if she’s ever actually read the Bible. What would Job say? Did God allow Job in a difficult, might I even say exposed, position? How about Paul? Was Paul’s life ever endangered? Hebrews 11 and 12 anyone? My goodness, someone was even sawed in half for the faith! In fact, Jesus told us to expect these things.
I’m not saying you drop your kids of in the middle of gang central, kiss them goodbye, and say good luck! What I am saying is that sheltered surburbia with a side game of keep-away may not always be what God intends. Would you never let your kid ride a bike because he might fall off and hurt himself? Would you never allow your kids to participate in ministry because it might be dangerous? Of course, each person has a different role in the play. One may homeschool, another send to public, still another private school. That’s not really the question (although motivations for answering that question are related).
Some of you may say, Heather, you don’t even have kids. You have no idea what you are talking about. True, true. But I can think about these things, and I can attempt to work how an answer that reflects the Truth in this world. I want to live dangerously, meaning, I want to teach my kids, when I have them, to be lights in the world. I want to teach them to love their neighbor unconditionally, even when said neighbor takes advantage of them. I want to teach them to love the Lord their God in the midst of persecution. This type of education may require letting God expose them at times.
Of course, in all this education, I might have to learn it myself first!

17 June 2007

L.L Barkat's Sick Reflections

I just love using confusing modifiers! Like the large women's group.
Anyway, I'm here to redirect. I'm all about a good designation, and Barkat's thoughts words today on Seedlings in Stone are well-worth your visit.

15 June 2007

Why we vote:

Fred Thompson: because I played one on TV

Hillary Clinton: because my husband did it, and anything he can do, I can do better

Obama: because Oprah said I could

Mitt Romney: because I ran a business or two, what's the diff?

Guliani: because we need a hero and didn't anyone see 9/11?

14 June 2007

Review—Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney

I don’t read a lot of chick lits or murder mysteries, so to read a book with both rolled up together was an anomally. But let me tell you, reader, this book captivated me. Bell’s (main character) wit had me laughing out loud. And in between the laughs, Burney dealt with hard issues such as divorce and remarriage, life in the occult (and healing after getting out), interdenominational relations, and a single person’s honest-to-goodness struggles with lust for the person to whom they are attracted. Yes, people, that’s normal, and I love that Burney didn’t shy away from that. And can I say this? While reading this book, I was an African-American woman. And you know what? I loved it. (Being African-American and the book.)

By the way, I never commented on Jodi Picoult’s Harvesting the Heart, which I read previous to this book. In some ways, I was disappointed. It took me a while to get into the book. A couple of writing things got in the way (this being one of her earlier books, I think she’s matured since then). But once I did, I felt the fear of the Paige, the main character, about being a mom. Of course, for those of you who know me and know that I already fear being responsible for another life, you know that it wasn’t a hard leap for me to make!

12 June 2007

Sing It - Happy birthday to me,

Happy birthday to me! I have officially been a blogger for one year as of today. To celebrate, my hubby replaced my keyboard. That's right, baby--I'm back! Fully hyphenated and in control (meant to allude to my working control, or as the keyboard says, Ctrl, key).
As an added treat for all you cats out there, here is what I wrote my very first day one year ago (it's like looking at baby pics--oh, how I've grown):

And cue Doogie Howser theme. Although I believe my entries will be a bit more of rambling spiels rather than snappy morals to neatly wrap the weekly show. I fought it. Why does this world need another meaningless opinion to add to the cacophony? I fought getting a cell phone, too, until 2001. Now I don’t know how I survived without this phone. How did you find friends at movie theaters and airports? How did you find your way home after turning on a very wrong (and very dangerous) street? What did people do with all that silence in the car? But I digress… So I’m adding my voice to the world, free of charge. In this site, you may find, should you choose to meander this space, my personal life, some with learned life lessons, some unpragmatically for enjoyment, a travel log, a giggle at myself; you may find movie and book reviews and suggested reading/viewing lists. Who knows – perhaps I’ll even add photos and the soundtrack to my life. Welcome to my life. L’chaim.

11 June 2007

Screech! The presses have officially halted!

I can't contain myself in my excitement. I just may very well pee myself. And because my husband, as darling as he is, was not properly ecstatic about the news, I had to come share it with you all.
Tim Burton is directing a film version of Sweeney Todd. Yes, that's right, folks, the musical by Stephen Sondheim. I happen to love Sondheim, and Sweeney Todd was my first exposure to him, so I have a special place in my hard for the murderous butcher. In fact, I can't hear the word "thicker" without singing "more like vicar." I did one paper on Sondheim and another paper on Sweeney Todd in college (I loved being a music major!), so I'm ready! To top it all off (I may have to jump around the room a bit), it will star Johnny Depp, my favorite actor. I think I'm going to cry. Johnny Depp, under the direction of Tim Burton, will be going around singing about murders to the lyrics and music of Stephen Sondheim. Can you see why I'm excited? I realize that this news it a bit old hat, but since I'm not so good about keeping up with the latest Hollywood releases, this is as good as it gets. Alas, it looks like I have to wait until January to see it. That's a whole lotta crossed legs.
Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.
He served a dark and a vengeful god.
What happened then, well that's the play,
And he wouldn't want us to give it away.
Not Sweeney,
Not Sweeney Todd, The demon barber of Fleet Street.

Movie and Theology: Babette's Feast

An international movie from the eighties (I’m behind in trends), this movie portrays where mercy and truth meet and the joy of grace. I will tell you the story, though I hope you watch it. I knew the story before I saw it and enjoyed it. It is slow, but there is a peace in its movement.
The story, set in the 1870s during the French Revolution, is about two austere women who are the daughters of a beloved pastor in a small Scandinavian village and the maid that comes to them. The pastor had died, and the two sisters struggle to keep those left of the congregation together when factions and disputes threaten to shred it. Martina (named for Martin Luther) and Phillipa (for Luther’s friend, Phillip Melangthon) exceed in their good works toward others, taking care of the poor and the forgotten. They love serving God in their simple lives, and they gave up much to do so (including love, money, and fame). After all, their father taught them that the pleasures of this world are distraction from doing God’s work.
One day, a refugee from the French Revolution shows up at their door with a letter from a lover of one of the sisters (to be honest, I never knew which one was which, but it didn’t matter). Her husband and son had been killed. Would they take this woman in? She’s a cook. The sisters tell the woman that they have no money to support a cook, but Babette begs to be taken in, to serve them for free. Moved by her plea, they give in. They teach her to speak the language, cook their food, namely ale bread and fish (which had been dried and needs to soak to cook), and she does. Every day she serves them, though you can tell that the food is distasteful to her. She haggles prices, multiplying the small income of the sisters and allowing them to better serve others. Her one connection to France is a lottery ticket, which a friend renews for her daily.
Fourteen years later, a letter from France arrives, announcing that Babette has won the lottery, 10,000 francs (in that day, quite a bit). The sisters congratulate her, but lament her loss. She is part of the family, and they don’t want to lose her.
Meanwhile, the hundredth anniversary of the sisters’ father (beloved pastor) approaches, and they want to celebrate. A simple meal, as they usually have, followed by coffee. The congregation has deteriorated into petty fights and ancient grudges, and their hope is that this remembrance will knit them back together. Babette asks one favor, the only favor she has asked since she arrived. Let her make the meal, a French meal. They assent, although they have their doubts. Then she must meet her nephew, who owns the boat that first brought her to the village, to make arrangements for the food.
When she returns, she brings fruit and baking supplies and fine dishes and live quail and turtle and a block of ice and the finest wine. Upon sight of the turtle (that looks as if it hailed from the Galapagos Islands), one of the sisters dreams that the meal is from the devil, a witch’s hex. She gathers the others in the church and tells them the dilemma. What has she brought upon their heads? She only wished to grant one favor. They, knowing the transitory nature of such earthly pleasures, agree to go ahead with the meal, but vow that their tongues will be rendered tasteless and not one world will be said about the meal.
Babette slaves over the meal, taking care over each detail. The guests arrive, the congregation and one general, who comes with his aunt. The general has traveled the world over and has developed a distinguishing palette.
Each course is served with a separate wine. They drink the wine and eat the food without comment, as promised, except for the general. He exclaims over each dish and declares the wine the finest he has ever tasted. Real turtle soup! And what turtle soup! Have you ever tasted anything like it? Yes, they answer, much snow is expected this year. He looks confused and returns to his dish. In the kitchen is the coach driver of the general’s aunt (the only nonsimpleton in the village) and a village boy who acts as the waiter. These two receive the “crumbs from the table” and thoroughly enjoy the meal, letting Babette know of its wonder.
In the dining room, the main course comes, each dish its own quail served in a bread bowl with some manner of sauce. The general is shocked. Why, this is [insert fancy French name here]. And he tells the story of a chef, a woman chef at that, at Café Anglais, an expensive restaurant in Paris, who invented this dish. Her cooking, tales tell, and this general confirms, brings together the body and soul and makes eating a love affair. The table nods, dismayed at his use of the term “love affair.” They continue to eat, and as the meal goes on, the old friends laugh together over old fights, bless one another, and remember the teachings of the minister, who taught them love and mercy. The general stands to give a speech. We chase after many things, he says, but here mercy and truth come together, righteousness and bliss kiss. By dessert, the participants all smile their enjoyment of the meal and drink. One frumpy lady, clad in black, as they all are, sips the water, makes a face, then returns to the wine.
After they all leave singing, the sisters rush into the kitchen. What a wonderful meal! Everyone adored it! We will remember this when you return to Paris, they say.
I will not be returning to Paris, Babette says. There is no one left waiting. They are all dead. And I have no money.
But the 10,000 francs!
Gone. Spent.
They look at the dishes and the vestiges of the meal.
I was the chef at Café Anglais, she explains. A meal for 12 costs 10,000 francs.
The sisters don’t understand why she would spend everything for them and go back to poverty.
An artist is never poor. I didn’t do it only for you.
The sisters, one of whom is a singer who gave up the stage for the village, understand and tell her that this is not the end. Someday she will be the great artist God meant her to be, and she will awe the angels.
Tears, tears flowing at this point. Mine, I mean. A beautiful story. It tells of God’s joy in us, the beauty of not just extending mercy, as the sisters always did with a cheerful heart, but in receiving grace, and how in the reception, we bring joy to others. It portrays relationships and the joy in them, rather than the austerity we strive for. (Huh, I’m sounding Kierkegaardesque again. Sorry. Old habits.) It tells of the artist and of service and the peace in creating. And there is this idea that who God created me to be, who I take joy in being, that person will shine, giving joy to others for eternity. Now, in this life, I have the opportunity to be a piece of that. Which is why I’m back at my computer now and leaving you to write.

08 June 2007

My Own Arboretum

This is what I've been up to, why I never even signed onto the internet yesterday (shocking).
I love flowers, but I've never been a gardener because (1) I don't know what I'm doing, and (2) good golly, Miss Molly, it's a ton of work! So my parents were in town yesterday, and I confiscated my mom and put her to work. We hauled 10 40 lb top soil bags, 3 garden soil bags (twice the size of above), 3 bags of mulch (same size as the latter mentioned), and 1 bag of potting soil. Not to mention those bricks. I'm a little sore, although not as much as I expected.
So what you see here was 24 hrs ago a slab of dirt with bits of grass here and there (that we dug up in hopes they'd reroot somewhere else). And now we have, ladies and gentleman, what is often referrred to as "curb appeal." If you look to the left, you can find a ladybug my niece painted for me.
This other shot is my front door, where now impatiens greet you (and tell you to hurry up and get in all ready and close the door behind you, where you born in a barn?).
I've always loved our backyard with the firebowl and tiki torches and aloe and basil and rosemary and the beginnings of an avocado tree and the even beginningser of a lime (or lemon, who can tell?) tree. And our patio where I often sit and type (and swat the flies). Now I love our front yard too!
Oh, and Erin, we planned on doing the newspaper/cardboard plan, but we forgot to buy newspaper and after one trip to WalMart, one to Sam's, and two to Lowe's (and the second trip consisting of two buys when we remembered something else we needed after unloading flowers into the truck), I could have cared less about the newspaper. I'm sure I'll regret it later!

05 June 2007

Video Killed the Radio Store*

We're coming up on my one year anniversary. As of June sixth (still haven't gotten the keyboard fixed and the six key doesn't work), I will have been blogging for a year (I was going to say the amount of days to mix it up from the previous sentence, but missing numbers make that difficult: who wants to say three hundred and sixty five days?). This anni has got me thinking, is blogging killing the bookstore?
The Guardian blog in the UK did a blurb on the internet and literacy. They conclude that the internet is not indeed killing literacy, and I agree (although I do wonder if it is limiting our verbage). Rather, I wonder if blogging is killing the book. For example, right now, if I weren't blogging and reading my bloglines and commenting here and there when I have wise words to impart (such as, that made me laugh or the like), I would probably be reading. Perhaps writing, practicing flute or piano, keeping up on my Spanish lessons, which I lost somewhere between Christmas of oh six and next Easter. Perhaps I'd be working on the material for my upcoming speaking engagement. Maybe I'd be running or sitting outside enjoying the day. (Hey, that reminds me, I have a laptop. Be back.)
Okay, now I'm outside enjoying the day in my backyard, where my hubby and I spent some time Sunday afternoon prettying it up.
And Ordinary Mother of Joe, I forgot to get honey at Sam's yesterday.
So if I weren't blogging, I'd be doing something else (profound). The question is, would that something else necessarily be more productive. Maybe yes, maybe no. I have friends, both online and that I've met in real live life because of the blogging experience. I've been exposed (gasp) to new ideas and philosophies and books. On the other hand, I probably should learn to give myself some limits and not neglect the book or the piano or the Spanish (which suffers the most).
So if you weren't blogging, what would you be doing?

*In 1981 (if memory serves me correctly, it was August), this was the first music video MTV played on its inaugural day. (I don't know what was next, maybe Madonna?) As we all know, radio and music stores thrive. Video did not indeed kill the radio store. I hope blogging will not kill the bookstore.

03 June 2007

Christmas in June

So I had done some washcloths, but that, folks, is my first fully completed scarf (modeled by Big Foot, a stuffed animal older than I am). Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas this year? I'd better get to work now!